“Clown in the Graveyard”

What does that phrase mean to you?  Think for a minute before you read on: it does  mean something to you, doesn’t it?
When I first encountered the phrase, it didn’t.  But within a few minutes it hit me: my best friend volunteered as a hospital clown!  And now he’s dead!  

It actually felt like a revelation,  even though I was just reading a Wiki article about various techniques used by people performing “cold readings” in front of an audience.  Imagine the effect it would have  if I’d been part of an audience to a psychic performance: a group of people probably inclined to believe in the phenomenon of ESP, (or at least curious about it, else they wouldn’t be there). Is that him?  Is he trying to get through to me? 

In my case the phrase could be interpreted literally, but note that both”clown”and “graveyard” are nouns which can easily be metaphorical .A clown could be someone who is or was always amusing, or someone who repeatedly did or does foolish or laughable things . Who does not know someone like that?  The graveyard can also mean the end or failure of a particular venture, social isolation, obloquy, or obsolescence.

Anither thing about the phrase is the  inherent incongruity of the (very vivid) images the nouns invoke. Everyone will “see“  the ridiculous, brightly-clad figure of the clown, and also “see” in the mind’s eye the gloomy “Old churchyard” with its leaning, moss covered stones, and the occasional new grave.  There’s something awful about the combination, something profane or at least inherently impossible.  It’s like the utterances of the three witches in Macbeth: “When the battle’s lost—and won!”  Or  “…when Burnham Wood  be come to Dunsinane..”

I’m at the polishing stage of an article on fortune telling, where I kinda read all around the issue (again, like I did before I started my draft) just to make sure I haven’t missed anything interesting, or gone off on the wrong track.

i was so struck by the jolt of pleasure, or satisfaction, or just…reinforcement,  as they say in the laboratory, that  I got from making this connection, and the insight it gave me into  the mental mechanics of faith and conviction.   It was like cracking a code; I’ve had similar experiences when the connection or common root of a word in a foreign  language  becomes clear in a flash.  It’s like the instant when the second image in a trompe l’oeil  drawing  reveals itself.   Not so much an “Ah HA!”  moment,  as an “Ahhhhh..”  moment, a minor frisson  of ecstasy.

And, the current flows both ways!  The performer who has thrown out such a phrase sees the stirring in the audience, sees a number of them obviously affected, sometimes even jumping to their feet to share their epiphany.    The “reader” is reinforced in belief in her own skills!  This is known In the trade as the “transcendental temptation”.

Well, thanks for reading, O Ratty, if you’re still with me!  Have a great day—and that “clown in the graveyard“  you keep picturing?  just ignore him….

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12 thoughts on ““Clown in the Graveyard””

  1. As I was reading “clown in the graveyard”, I remember being at a hospital after a college student had drowned in a small apartment swimming pool because he could not swim. As we were standing around a man in a Pink Panther costume came in delivering balloons to someone at the hospital. It was such a shock to the system that one wanted to punch this innocent stranger for not respecting the moment.

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  2. Hypatia:
    But within a few minutes it hit me: my best friend volunteered as a hospital clown!  And now he’s dead!

    Did this happen to you? Did a friend contract a disease at a hospital while volunteering?

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  3. 10 Cents:
    As I was reading “clown in the graveyard”, I remember being at a hospital after a college student had drowned in a small apartment swimming pool because he could not swim. As we were standing around a man in a Pink Panther costume came in delivering balloons to someone at the hospital. It was such a shock to the system that one wanted to punch this innocent stranger for not respecting the moment.

    There, you see?  The phrase evoked a strong emotional reaction because you made the connection between a jester Nd a death!

    10 Cents:

    Hypatia:
    But within a few minutes it hit me: my best friend volunteered as a hospital clown!  And now he’s dead!

    Did this happen to you? Did a friend contract a disease at a hospital while volunteering?

    It happened,  yes: my friend is dead,  but but he didn’t die as a consequence of clowning for the sick. (And right now I’d like to do a shout-out to the Bumper T organization, which trains people to engage in this particular errand of mercy to cheer up hospital patients .). It’s just,  he was really into his hospital clown persona and everybody loved him for it.

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  4. The whole of Socialism is a clown in a graveyard seeking to extend its venues with rewards for adherents after death.  Marx pounded a stake into mankind’s heart.   Socialism removed a randomly brutal god by substituting determined committees.

    To be fair, God in whatever flavor is a business plan whose red ink is indefinitely future-deferred, as is the New Economics.  Touching a hot stove uncoupled from being burned is not an act of kindness.  It is scar tissue.

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  5. Actually there is a very sad story related to “a clown in a graveyard”…

    There Is A Clown Graveyard In Chicago And The Story Behind It Is Tragic

    By Paul Fox
    Boredom Therapy Staff

    Even the nicest cemeteries are inherently creepy. It’s difficult to walk by one without thinking about the people buried there, not to mention the circumstances behind their deaths.

    Each graveyard has its own unique history, and this particular cemetery—located in a suburb of Chicago—has a story that is more disturbing than any other that you are likely to find.

    This is one of a few elephant statues that populate a large plot called Showmen’s Rest at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Each one is a headstone, all bearing the engraving “Showmen’s League of America” and the date June 22, 1918. It may look whimsical, but underneath these statues is a mass grave full of circus performers, including strongmen, acrobats, and clowns.

    On that fateful night, a pair of trains were on their way to Hammond, Indiana. They carried the performers of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, who were heading to a show.

    The first train, which held the circus animals, was chugging along about an hour-and-a-half ahead. At around 4 a.m., the train with the performers stopped to cool down as the passengers slept.

    Behind them, the engineer of an empty military train had fallen asleep in his cab, missing all of the flares and signals that another train was ahead. He slammed into the circus train, killing almost everyone on board.

    Most of the people in the stalled train actually died within the first 30 seconds of the crash. As the survivors pulled themselves out of the wreckage, the train caught fire, leaving them helpless as their friends and family burned in the inferno.

    The casualties totaled 86 deaths and 127 injuries.

    The Showmen’s League of America bought a 750-plot part of the Woodlawn cemetery and dug a mass grave for the deceased.

    Because many of the victims weren’t known by their real names, some of the headstones are marked by their stage names, including “Smiley,” “Baldy,” and “Unknown Female #43.” Other remains were so destroyed that they were unidentifiable.

    A tourist attraction called Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin still holds some of the original wagons from the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. The International Circus Hall of Fame can now be found in Peru, Indiana, the home of the ill-fated Circus’s winter headquarters.

    The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus sideshow in 1917

    International Clown Week participants paying respects and homage at the cemetery.

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  6. Gerry_D:

    Hypatia:
    Ei-yiii-yii, Gerry!  Thanks for this..I think….😢

    A sad but true thing. If you say your prayers at night, mention them as well.

    I’d feel funny doing that…😂😂😂😂😂😂.
    (No, seriously I will🎡🎠🎪🤡🤡)

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  7. Hypatia:

    Gerry_D:

    Hypatia:
    Ei-yiii-yii, Gerry!  Thanks for this..I think….😢

    A sad but true thing. If you say your prayers at night, mention them as well.

    I’d feel funny doing that…😂😂😂😂😂😂.
    (No, seriously I will🎡🎠🎪🤡🤡)

    I’ll bet they haven’t had many prayers in a long time. Remember, there were other entertainers and just workers in that tragedy as well.

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