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Reading List, March 2022

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Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.

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Rasa → Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Colour: yellow, Śāntam: Peace or tranquillity. Colour: perpetual white.

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ArchetypeHumorist

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We carefully chose the word ‘the humorist’ to describe the personality archetype used to construct Johnny’s character. This is to avoid the biases and connotations associated with the other names of this archetype—like ‘the trickster’, ‘fool’ or ‘clown’. For centuries, even millennia, and in the widest variety of cultural and religious belief systems, humans have told and retold tales of humorists—archetypal figures who are comical, yet serve to break down social constructs. In its shadow, the humorist is irreverent and deceptive; In its wisdom, this archetype crosses boundaries and exposes the folly of human superiority, bringing us to understand the fragility of the status quo. We found this archetype helping a man find redemption in the 1991 film The Fisher King starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges; we reencounter the same archetype in its destructive shadow through the iconic pop-villain Joker and in the childish mischief of Don Quixote, Krishna and Bugs Bunny.


One of the most interesting thought-seeds connecting to the wisdom of the humorist archetype comes through the works of Albert Camus and his philosophy of absurdity. In ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, where he compares our human existence to the story of the Greek king condemned to roll a boulder uphill for eternity as punishment for his attempts to defy death, Camus suggests that life is, in fact, meaningless. He also suggests that finding joy in life’s meaningless struggle is the only way to overcome the absurdity of the situation. As Camus puts it: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”


Maybe, we are Sisyphus. And maybe, we are shouldering a pointless boulder up a mountain. But what if, meaning is the thing found when going up the mountain laughing?


This reading list contains some of the literature and ideas that helped us answer these questions on life and meaning, as well as links to social and environmental issues hinted at in Johnny’s story.


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