A Clown’s Philosophy

The internet is currently under the spell or a curious character called Clown Pepe, also known as Honk Honk. I think that Clown Pepe is a good starting point to look at clowns, the philosophy behind clowns, and their tragic yet profound role in society. 

I’m going to minimize political talk in this video, and rather talk about the philosophy behind Clown Pepe and clowns in general.

The idea surrounding Honk Honk is that we are living clown world; an absurd society full of seemingly brain-dead NPC’s that consume everything that the large corporations throw at them, no matter how ridiculous, and, of course, these radical feminists that demand privileges under the guise of ‘equality’ and everyone is applauding them, while men are killing themselves and no one gives a damn. It’s almost like the world is run by clowns. 

For those who might ask why I’m not interested in the political side of Clown Pepe; people can point out everything that’s wrong with the world from a political and ideological point of view – maybe things like immigration or homosexuality – and call that clown world, but I think this is more an attempt to adopt the Clown Pepe meme to push an agenda. I don’t think that’s too interesting, and I think the role of the clown is way more profound than just politics. Ironically, if we’d make a clown a symbol for a certain political group, he’s immediately reduced to seriousness. Because he might ridicule those who he doesn’t agree with; he does that because he actually takes his own cause seriously and he loses his clown status in my opinion. I think that a true clown transcends any ideology, and embraces the absurdity of it all. I think that’s interesting.

People, let’s call them the NPCs, seem to take life very seriously even though it’s absolutely absurd, and some, (those who see through this) make fun of that. So, we have this herd of people that are basically subject to the mind control of the few that are in power. Top down we are taught how to live our lives, what to achieve, how to relate to other people or, in short, what to do in order to fit in. Although, some trends may start on the ground level and will influence the masses bottom-up, in order to be commercialized by the corporate masters. No matter from what way it comes: the masses will follow religiously and see going along with the latest trends, fashion, etiquette, ideologies – no matter how absurd – as an utterly serious matter. Then, we have the clown. When he looks at the way people pursue their affairs in all seriousness, from managers to politicians, from lawyers to businessmen, from peasants to kings: he starts to chuckle. He finds it quite amusing how people put so much energy into attaining these temporary goodies and rewards like a high position in a company, honor because they defend a certain cause, a good reputation among the neighbours, respect from people they don’t even like and money to buy stuff they don’t need. It’s like watching dogs fighting over a bone.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said:

When I was young, I forgot how to laugh in the cave of Trophonius; when I was older, I opened my eyes and beheld reality, at which I began to laugh, and since then, I have not stopped laughing.

Kierkegaard acknowledged the absurdity of existence, and he believed that only faith could transform the absurd into not absurd. The clown, however, is the definition of the absurd man that has embraced his absurd condition, and probably rejects faith like he rejects ideology. I mean: I’ve never seen a clown being religious; religion is a very serious business. And I think that’s what Kierkegaard wanted to point out; that religion is at least this beacon of seriousness, or something that we can rely on and hold on to, in an absurd universe. It’s clear that there’s a correlation between the decline of institutionalized religion that we see today in the Western World, and the transition from order to chaos; beyond the confines of religion, absurdity now has all freedom to manifest.

However, from the perspective of the clown, something like ‘organized religion’ is just as absurd as everything else. Just think about the hypocrisy going on among some religious people; those who do everything God has forbidden, but still want to look good on Sunday morning in church. Or how about the power struggle within the religious dominance hierarchy, that have very little to too with the precepts that religions teach. Many religious authority figures are blatant narcissists and don’t shy away from a bit of sexual abuse. And those people represent God? Honk Honk.

Based on the famous metaphor from The Matrix movie, the blue pill represents blissful ignorance, the red pill represent seeing the harsh reality. Honk Honk, however, has swallowed the clown pill, which means that he acknowledges the complete absurdity of the world. In a way, this can be a very freeing experience.

As opposed to Kierkegaard, the French-Algerian philosopher Albert Camus embraced absurdity. He believed that the world is completely absurd and that we should simply go with the flow and make the best out of it. He explained the human condition by the metaphor of Sisyphus; the king who challenged the Gods and was condemned to push a rock uphill for eternity. When the rock reached its peak, it rolled down again and, so, he had to push it up again. This is what our lives are like according to Camus. And the only way to cope with this, is by embracing the push. Like Sandman who just keeps on cranking out daily content which gives his life meaning, being a modern day Sisyphus. His work may last a few generations, heck, it may even benefit men for centuries to come, but from a cosmic point of view, thinking in millions of years, what we do as humans here on earth is kind of pointless. Getting out of bed in the morning seems absolutely preposterous when we look at it this way. Yes, humanity truly is a joke. And guess what’s the best way to approach this cosmic joke we’re all part of? With humor. That’s when the clown comes in.

Morpheus pointed out that people residing in blissful ignorance are too attached to the system that they don’t want to be freed. In a similar way, people are so attached to clown world, that they don’t want to see how ridiculous their lives are. Thus, when someone makes fun of them, they will most likely get angry. When you are completely secure that you are doing the right thing, you will not likely get triggered by those that oppose you. But when you’re not so sure about your righteousness but, nonetheless, you are attached to your position at the same time, you will get angry when someone pokes fun at you or the things that you think are sacred.

That’s why Honk Honk upsets people, because, he reminds them of their humanity and that the universe may just be one big prank. And if they let that shine through, they will realize that the joke is on them; not on Honk Honk. 

I believe, deep inside, we’re all aware of our meaninglessness. The idea coined by Tyler Durden in Fightclub, that there’s a good possibility that God hates us, might be a huge overestimation of our role in the universe. Because if God hates us, he at least recognizes us. Looking at the vastness of space however, it’s more likely that its creator is completely indifferent towards us. Like Alan Watts used to say: earth is like an apple tree. When and apple tree grows apples, it’s ‘appling’. Earth, at this moment, is ‘peopling’. We’re born, we grow, we age, we die. And the cycle goes on, and on, and on, until Earth is done peopling. The question is: will humanity end with a bang, a tear or with a honk?

When you look at the beauty of life, of the tree and the apples that it produces, you might see the miracle and absurdity of life at the same time. What could we do? I’d say: fully enjoy it, don’t take it so seriously, and be amused by the ones who do. A clown pill a day keeps the overly concerned NPC’s away.