The anomaly, the trickster, the divine lunatic, the Unemployed Samurai, arrives in times of chaos. Such a person may be an offence to ordinary perception and codes of morality certainty — he may turn things inside out or upside down. It is not that he needs to be unethical or unkind, but he may just be responding to dead structures. The Samurai may need to burn away the dead wood, or wear a terrifying mask, or act in any number of unconventional ways.
The point is not to condemn or revere such a person but to notice this archetype within oneself: we all have the possibility of being mischievous in a divine sense. Of course, one would have to be highly skilled and responsible to, paradoxically, act irresponsibly for the sake of the larger good. The key is timing: we need to know when to create and when to destroy. Otherwise, the unemployed Samurai could become capricious — or even malevolent.
This is the trap of many artists or tricksters, and why they easily fall into disrepute: a certain idleness. The idle samurai or artist for that matter (for the unemployed samurai is fundamentally an artists), is not a pretty picture. One has to earn freedom from the hierarchy — though a lot of training and self-honesty. Being an outsider requires first being an insider, absorbing the tradition before is free to move in and out of it.
Take the example of the painter Cezanne. Cezanne was trained in classical painting, but at one point he decided to destroy everything he had ever painted and start over, to move beyond perspective in painting. This was a dangerous move, of course, but it absolutely changed painting forever. Cezanne had to throw the world of convention into chaos, to destroy all the maps (but only after he had internalized them),to discover an entirely new world. Mount St. Victoire could be now seen from infinite perspectives, it was luminous and free from the lockjaw of history, it was fluid and alive. Cezanne destroyed perspective and shadow in the same way Einstein destroyed fixed space and bended time with his theory of general relativity. What could be more of an offensive to those locked within hermetic tradition and fixed principals, to those believers in a flat earth?
Later Cezanne’s paintings became somewhat of a postcard phenomena and the impressionists also had to be imaginably smashed; another return to a deeper tradition was necessary. The ‘destroyer’ comes to renew the living traditions, sometimes though disruption and chaos, destroying the dead wood. The more you destroy — of virtual or imaginary structures — the more space there is to be creative.
There are times when we might need to turn the world upside down. We might need to leave an unhealthy relationship for instance (or just change the nature of that relationship though disrupting its stuck patterns). In extreme cases, we may have to leave country and kin and go in search of a holy grail somewhere. When the world gets unbearable narrow and provincial, when we are stuck in a ghetto somewhere, when there are nothing but screaming ghosts around us, it may be time to take to the road and plunder.