Today we follow up on the clown archetype. There are many faces of this archetype throughout history but the “evil clown” has taken center stage in the horror-genre in popular culture. We touched on this with past guest Michael Bala and referenced the Stephen King novel “It.” In one description of the book which featured a demented, murderous clown named Penny- Wise, it reads quote – it did for clowns what Psycho did for showers and what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean. Michael Bala suggested that Pennywise is the expression of repressed desires and fears, the sewers represent the subconscious realm. There’s a deep reservoir of examples and illustrations of the evil clown. It could actually be eclipsing the non-evil clown archetype, I’m not sure.
How did the evil clown genre emerge? Was it side by side from the beginning? Buried in this research is the freemason or shriners connection which has undoubtedly influenced the genre throughout the decades with pins, posters, and tattoos. There’s also the evolution of the dark side of funny, the psychotic homicidal maniacs, or malevolent tricksters and pranksters where the shadow archetype emerges naturally over time processing through the collective consciousness. The clown’s appearance is devilish, with a chalk-white face, bright colored hair and ghoulish large mouth. The scene is often set with slightly out of tune carnival music. A late storm rumbled through the area and now the deserted circus tents are silhouetted on the outskirts of a small New England town. As the wind picks up, you hear the cackling of the evil clown in the distance. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist, and the founder of analytical psychology.
In 1917 he wrote in his essay “On the Psychology of the Unconscious” about the personal shadow as the other in us. The negative side of the personality, the sum of all unpleasant qualities we like to hide. It embarrasses or shames us. “Everything with a substance casts a shadow, the ego stands to the shadow as light to shade.” As listeners may know, jesting and clowning is a very ancient art that can be traced through Egypt and medieval Europe. That’s plenty of time for the shadow to develop. Clyde Lewis article Evil Clown Evil.
Guest – Laurie Schapira is a teacher at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York and former president of its board of directors. She’s a filmmaker and author of the Cassandra Complex: Living with Disbelief: A Modern Perspective On Hysteria, she also wrote directed and produced the film titled The Prophecy of the Seeress.