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Pierrot, the white-faced clown. When I was in High School, I started reading books by Michael Moorcock. The subject matter was generally fantasy or science fiction, but it generally had dark undertones. I think it was 1988 when I discovered a book called The Final Programme. The main protaganist was a bloke named Jerry Cornelius. Over the course of this book, Jerry went through transformation from a hedonistic secret agent type character through an identity change, or maybe more correctly, identity loss. It was interesting. In the following books his role, and that of the other characters changed in various explicit and implicit ways, as did the background envinronment, questioning the nature of self and position in the universe.

In the the fourth book, The Condition of Muzak, Moorcock essentially brought through the hypothesis that life is essentially a commedia dell'arte in which the players cycle through the commedia roles.

The commedia dell'arte was a form of comedic theatre that came out of Italy into the rest of Europe in about the 15th century. It's principle characters were prototypes Harlequin, Columbine, The Doctor, The Major, and a bunch of others. The plays were all improvisation, with some basic underlying storylines. One of the later sub-plots that was reflected in literature in the centuries to follow was that of the love triangle between Harlequin, who is trickster typoe character; Columbine, who is a charming young lady who is easily distracted; and Pierrot, the fool, the butt of Harlequin's pranks, and who is in love with Columbine. As you can probably guess, Harlequin always gets the girl, but in many storylines he's only interested in the conquest and the other two are left hanging in the end.

The Pierrot character always appealed to me, but also Moorcock's premise that Pierrot would evolve to become Harlequin. Of course, there is also the understanding that Harlequin could also become Pierrot again that was interesting.

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