this essay originally ran in Happiness Pony #10, January 2012, and was written at the behest of the editors of that newspaper, as part of a 4 part series that also included Hermes, Barnum, and Legba.
Monkey is inquisitive, playful, fast, dextrous, sometimes a thief, sometimes (inadvertantly) helpful, an inventor, a liar, a braggart, sometimes annoying, sometimes a child, unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, uncontrollable, sometimes cunning, sometimes foolish, sometimes combination cunning/foolish, never a winner, sometimes a loser, always a player in any game, ever. Monkey is helpful in many situations defined by rules, customs, taboos, stasis, and change- Monkey messes around and ruins things, tests limits, and seeks new ways of doing things. Though Monkey is useful in this regard, they don't do these things to be useful- they're just doing their own thing, messing around! In the scientific community, this is known as "pure research".
Monkey is a character in many independent world literatures and folklores- this is because with some variation in temperament, monkeys are real and constant fuckers, though cute, and abstracted enough from humans that it's tempting to see yourself in them. People tell stories about crazy monkeys getting into all sorts of trouble- that's a story that everyone likes to hear. I read a great article recently about a monkey that used to ride this one bus every day- it would wait at the stop, get on the bus, it had a regular seat that it always sat at, and a regular stop it got off at. Long story short, something went down on the bus, someone put their foot down like the monkey is going to understand or respect human law and what a dollar means, and let's just say that a mess of people got very bit up as a consequence. Maybe the monkey got hurt, but the monkey wasn't the only one, that's for sure.
In some of these stories, things end up very bad for the monkey, but the important considerations are: it's fun to tell stories about monkeys; if there are monkeys around you're going to tell stories about them; a monkey sometimes will just run up and steal your Gatorade out of your bag, run up a tree, and drink your Gatorade, and you're just standing there, what are you going to do, yell at it? So bottomline: if you have a literature in an area where there are monkeys, there's going to be a lot of leeway and adventure, and not so much moralizing or fingerpointing. And if your literature is from a place where no monkeys at all live, chances are it's going to have uptight and weird bummer elements that you will need extracurricular spiritwork to route around. I mean even Jesus Christ Himself didn't get things done on Earth until he met those two thieves on the hill, that's basically the same thing.
IN CONCLUSION: If you are an annoying kid reading this I am in no way advocating you being annoying and intelligent and precocious to me, I will treat you like a wild animal and sweep you away with a broom without ANY moral compunction. But if you (any you) are stagnating in a self-made prisony realm, try the monkey's pathless path- standing on any available surface, opening things and pouring them out, talking about things you have no business talking about, and getting into a position where if you don't think, and think fast, you are going to die.
famous monkeys in history: