I keep reading and rereading Harlan Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin!” Said The Ticktockman just because it’s one of my favorite readings, and because I was using it for my second paper. After the first class we talked about it, it became apparent to me that the Harlequin was indeed caught and “readjusted” to suit the “system,” this “metronomic” world governed by the Ticktockman. But I had thought, after the first reading, that somehow the Harlequin was able to escape his fate, even though he appears on the communications screens at the end clearly brainwashed.
I thought we were supposed to get this feeling about the Harlequin that he can pull off anything, even beyond reason, like somehow getting and paying for so many jelly beans when jelly beans hadn’t even been in production in so many years. I thought his escape, and switch, was perhaps just another question that will “never be answered to your complete satisfaction” (372). And yeah, not only did I think they weren’t able to keep a hold of him to perform whatever adjustments to his brain, I thought he somehow was able to rise up, dethrone, and switch himself with the Ticktockman himself.
I mean, of his previous feats before, many where physically really high up, whether up in the air-boat with the jelly-beans, or up on the shopping center spire. He seems to have this ability to inconspicuously raise himself up high to get the attention of the people. In the same way that he has a knack for elevating himself for his feats, I figured his greatest one then was getting himself to that top position where he could have more influence.
It said that “the important reactions were high above and far below. At the very top, at the very bottom” (369) so I figured he had done what he could from the low position he was in as this laughable jester, and he was championed as a hero from the lowest classes, but now that he had accomplished sort of stirring change from the very bottom, now to get the top he would have to take a different approach. I figured, that maybe, he someone created the plan as it worked out that he was now the Ticktockman and maybe the old Ticktockman was behind the new Harlequin costume/persona spewing good things about being on time, and belonging, but now in this doped up image, it’s more laughable. It’s like with having the Harlequin say these things, the people who didn’t champion him, the upper class would sort of disregard what he says as nonsense, but now what he’s saying as nonsense is the things the Ticktockman would have said seriously. It sort of…discredits those ideals. And then I thought now, as the Ticktockman he can sort of stir change from the top little by little, by being late himself like he is at the end, relaxing the rules from the top, and easing those who became so accustomed to order into disorder.
The Ticktockman himself said that many people liked how the world worked then, people like Pretty Alice, accepted the world how it was, however terrible, just to belong and conform. I thought then the Harlequin would be right in starting with little changes too at the top as he did at the bottom in a way.
And at the very end, with the Ticktockman grinning sheepishly, calling his own actions ridiculous. It just felt very Harlequin-esque. And I guess everyone said that, that was the change the Harlequin started in the Ticktockman himself. And that now makes sense, thinking about it. It’s just not what I originally imagined. Also since the Ticktockman wears a mask just as the Harlequin wears a costume, I just thought it would be so fitting that they could switch without anyone ever knowing. And also the mrmee mrmee, mrmee that the Ticktockman says was so confusing. I tried to make sense of it, and I just thought it reminded me so much of the Harlequin’s own name, Everett C. Marm. E. Marm. But I don’t know.