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 Humour : The Secret of Laughter

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PostSubject: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:34 am

Why is our society so obsessed with humor?

Could it be because laughter evolved from a display of dominance and aggression (showing of teeth) into a more egalitarian display of mock superior fitness/dominance, and our society is full of people of inferior fitness who need to laugh to feel adequate?

That's what Anthony Ludovici argues in his book, The Secret of Laughter (1932)

lol!
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:49 am

He makes a very good case for this theory.

People love to laugh because laughing makes them feel fit, or at least appear to feel fit, as in nervous laughter. No other theory of laughter can account for every type of laughter.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:02 pm

I don't think it came from a display of dominance. Seems like it is something that is used to relieve negative tension in the organism. People love to laugh because it feels good.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:09 pm

Relief from negative tension doesn't explain all laughter.

And why does it relieve negative tension? Because it makes the laugher feel adequate (fit).
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:20 pm

Any theory of laughter ought to explain all of these types of laughter:

AML wrote:
Now one of the main difficulties in investigating the meaning of laughter consists in the great variety of circumstances in which a laugh seems a suitable expression. For instance:
(a) A small child, hard pressed by a pursuer, laughs when it reaches safety in the folds of its mother's dress. There is nothing obviously funny or humorous, however, in running to safety.
(b) A young woman, knowing herself to be well dressed, smiles constantly, and laughs at the slightest provocation. There is nothing obviously funny or humorous about being well dressed. On the contrary, it is often more funny and humorous not to be well dressed.
(c) We are told that the gods on Olympus burst into loud laughter when they saw Hephæstos hobbling lamely from one to another offering them nectar. Hephæstos was the crippled ugly god.
(d) We are told that David Garrick once broke down in a tragic scene because he was laughing so much at a man in the front who, owing to the heat, had placed his wig on his dog's head.
(e) Children and some adults laugh to see Harlequin belabouring the clown.
(f) Some people laugh to hear other people speaking a foreign language, or speaking their own language in an odd way. Much of the success of Harry Lauder in London was due to this human peculiarity.
(g) Many people have difficulty in not laughing at someone who loses his hat in the wind and proceeds to grope about for it, at great personal risk, under the bonnets of cars and the heads of horses.
(h) On the other hand, that same person will laugh while he is trying to recover his hat, and will look anxiously and laugh at those near him when he first loses it.
(i) Once on a damp, greasy day, in Old Bond Street, where the pavement has two different levels, a smartly-dressed woman, evidently unfamiliar with the two levels, fell in front of me. Her handbag dropped on the flags and sprang open, money rolled in all directions, and I noticed that her white gloves, her silk stockings and the skirt of her dress were badly soiled. And yet, the whole time that I and a few others assisted her to her feet and helped her to recover her property, she never once stopped laughing. Now it cannot be funny or humorous to fall and soil one's clothes in the street.
(j) We laugh when we inhale nitrous oxide.
(k) We also laugh at a mere absurdity, as, for instance, when we are told that two lions, kept in adjoining cages, broke through the partition separating them, and in their fury mauled each other until only the tips of their tails were left.
(l) Again, the more dignified the person is who has a fall, the more we laugh. A ragged, bedraggled tramp falling in the dust or mud is not nearly as funny as one of His Majesty's judges, or a bishop performing the same antic.
Sydney Smith, writing over a hundred years ago, gives a curious instance of this. He says:
"If a tradesman of a corpulent and respectable appearance, with habiliments somewhat ostentatious, were to slide gently into the mud and decorate a pea-green coat, I am afraid we should have the barbarity to laugh. If his hat and wig, like treacherous servants, were to desert their fallen master, it certainly would not diminish our propensity to laugh. . . . But if instead of this we were to observe a dustman falling into the mud, it would hardly attract any attention." 1
(m) We never laugh at a horse, a child or an old woman who falls. 2
(n) We laugh when we are embarrassed. In fact, the typical mannerism of all timid and ill-adapted young people on the stage is a perpetual simper or laugh.
(o) We laugh at any mishap that may occur to a performer on the stage. Voltaire actually said: "I have noticed that a whole theatre audience never laughs loudly as one man except when a mishap occurs to one of the performers." 3
Once, I believe it was at the Coliseum, I saw Sir Frank Benson walk on to recite a speech from one of Shakespeare's historical plays. He was in the garb of some ancient knight or noble, and as he approached the footlights he tripped over his long sword. The whole audience rocked with laughter, and although he bravely shouted the speech he had to deliver,
nothing would compose the house to seriousness, and at last he had to retire discomfited.
(p) We laugh at schoolboy howlers. But — and this is most important — we only laugh if the howler is one which our own unaided knowledge enables us to recognise as such. When we hear a schoolboy refer to the bridge spanning the Menai Straits as a "tubercular bridge," we may laugh. We may also laugh when we hear him describe an oculist as a fish with long legs. When, however, the howler concerns some science or language with which we are not familiar, we cannot laugh, except out of courtesy to the interpreter, even when the howler is carefully explained to us. Why is a mistake we know of our own knowledge to be a mistake, funny, and a mistake we know through someone else's knowledge to be a mistake, not funny?
(q) We laugh at a pun.
(r) We laugh more heartily and loudly at a joke or a pun in a foreign language, which we happen to understand, than at a joke of equal merit in our own language. De Quincey 4 thought that many scholars had, as the result of a like infirmity, grossly exaggerated the value of certain classical writers.
(s) We laugh when tickled.
(t) We smile or laugh when we meet a friend. But even when an enemy passes and we are in company, we also take care to smile or laugh, to indicate to the enemy that we are no worse off for his absence from our circle.
(u) Although a joke may be really funny, we rarely if ever think it so if it is against ourselves.
An instance of this occurred at the Law Courts a few years ago, in the case of Captain Wright versus Lord Gladstone.
Mr. Norman Birkett, counsel for Lord Gladstone, cross-examining Captain Wright, said: "Did you see the daily papers on July 28th?" Captain Wright said: "No."
Mr. Birkett suggested that the reading-room of the Club would contain all the London daily newspapers — he could have seen them there.
Captain Wright retorted: "I am a journalist, not a barrister. I don't rush to the papers to see if my name is in them."
There was some laughter and Mr. Justice Avory remarked: "There is nothing funny in that." 5
Evidently some people present did think it funny. Mr. Justice Avory could not, however, because, being a member of the legal profession, and having been a barrister, he could not enjoy a joke which exalted journalists at the expense of the dignity of his own calling.
(v) When we slip in trying to reach a platform, or knock our heads by accident in front of a crowd, we provoke loud laughter; but it offends us to be laughed at. Even animals, according to some people, are annoyed at being laughed at. 6
(w) We laugh at a surprise, or an expectation that ends in nothing. Many investigators have believed this kind of laugh to be the only kind.
(x) We laugh at an incongruity (Schopenhauer's example under (k)).
(y) We laugh at a good nonsense picture by Lear or Bateman.
(z) We laugh at mere caricature.
(A) We laugh at disguises.
(B) We laugh when others laugh.
(C) We laugh at a good ruse, a good trick, a good case of diamond cut diamond, and at a witticism.
(D) We laugh at good mimicry or imitation.
(E) We laugh in what we conceive to be an intellectual way, when, in a public debate, one disputant cracks a joke against his opponent, and we then regard the disputant who has had the joke cracked against him as defeated in the argument.
(F) We laugh at mere indecencies, or at scenes, reference and stories actually indecent, bordering on the indecent, or reminiscent of the indecent, on the stage, in books, and in daily life. Men, after dinner, when the ladies have retired, habitually laugh at indecent and salacious stories.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:21 pm

... which Ludovici's theory does admirably:

AML wrote:
I now propose to test the definition by means of the examples given in Chapter I, though before I start it may be well to emphasise the fact that, whereas all laughter is the expression of superior adaptation, all states of superior adaptation do not necessarily lead to laughter, and also that whereas the explanation I have given of the facial expression in laughter seems to account for the origin of laughter, the definition of laughter would still stand, even if the explanation of the expression could not be sustained.
The letters in brackets correspond to those prefixed to each example in Chapter I, so that there will be no need to repeat the examples in extenso.
(a) To find safety at its mother's side after being chased, is to find superior adaptation; therefore the signal of superior adaptation — showing teeth — is instinctively made.
(b) To know oneself well dressed is to be conscious of superior adaptation. Self-glory, not necessarily resulting from any comparison, is therefore felt, and the slightest provocation broadens the perpetual smile into a complete display of teeth.
(c) The other gods of Olympus enjoyed superior adaptation as compared with Hephæstos, and therefore gave the signal of it. (But in regard to this kind of

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superior adaptation, it should always be borne in mind that it is not constantly, at all stages of human evolution or even at all stages of the same man's life, necessarily expressed by laughter, that is to say, signalled by showing teeth. Physical superior adaptation tends to be felt less acutely by adults than by children, by cultivated than by uncultivated peoples, by the educated than by the uneducated. Thus, as Meredith observed — and he had no idea of the theory of laughter outlined here — "We know the degree of refinement in men by the matter they will laugh at." 1 The Chinaman, the schoolboy and the savage are much more inclined to laugh at a person falling down and hurting himself than the cultivated man, whose claim to superior adaptation resides in things more purely spiritual — scholarship, taste, science, etc., and who will laugh only at things which provoke the sense of superior adaptation in a more subtle and non-physical manner.)
(d) As Bergson points out, we laugh only at the human. It is the humanising of the dog, by giving him a wig and converting him into an ugly and grotesque little man, that causes the animal to become an object provoking the onlooker to signal superior adaptation by showing teeth.
(e) The child in its stall is not being belaboured and shows teeth because it wishes to signal that it is enjoying superior adaptation to the clown. (The same remarks apply here as in the parenthesis to (c).)
(f) Ignorant people are inclined to imagine that their country, their language, their customs, are necessarily the most rational, and therefore show teeth

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at anyone betraying another nativity, another language, another custom. Moreover, to be unable to master as completely as they do something "which is such a commonplace with them as their own language, suggests a childish failing and naturally an inferiority. In the first case, the very sounds of a foreign language suggest, to the ignorant, the inane gibbering of infants and lunatics, and the mob are therefore inclined to show teeth when they overhear foreigners speaking.
(g) We feel inclined to show teeth because we are instinctively impelled to signal superior adaptation to the extent of having our own hats on. (The same remarks apply here as in the parenthesis to (c).)
(h) He shows teeth, because, knowing instinctively that it is the signal of superior adaptation, he tries out of vanity to bluff you into thinking his adaptation is still superior, and thus to damp your own feelings of superior adaptation and quell your laughter. It is all quite unconscious, both in him and in the crowd.
(i) The lady in Bond Street showed teeth all the time out of pure self-defence or vanity. Although her adaptation was for the moment conspicuously inferior, she quite unconsciously gave the signal of superior adaptation for the same reasons actuating the man under (h).
(j) Sir Arthur Mitchell, who investigated this matter, quotes the opinions of men like Southey, Coleridge, Lowell, Edgeworth and Kinglake, all of whom declared that breathing the gas caused the most pleasant sensations; often they spoke of the pleasure as being quite strong. 2 Now pleasure has from the

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beginning of time been rooted in feelings of superior adaptation.
(k) Here is a case of the liberation from the customary constraints, or rigid laws of reason and logic, and since every form of liberation is a state of superior adaptation, it leads to showing teeth. All nonsense comes under this head, and leads to the order of laughter which Hobbes, in his explanation, says arises from "absurdities" and "infirmities abstracted from persons."
(l) The more dignified a person is, the more he challenges by comparison our own claim to superior adaptation; consequently the more relieved do we feel when his superior adaptation is reduced under our eyes for a moment. This, of course, does not apply to a case where we are emotionally related to the superior person by great reverence, respect or love, because then another emotion conflicts with our single-minded contemplation of the mishap befalling him. (Same remarks apply here as in the parenthesis to (c).)
(m) We fear no competition or rivalry from a horse, a child, an old woman, or an old man. They do not threaten our adaptation, consequently we are not conscious of our superior adaptation when they fall. But a child may show teeth when another child falls, because possibilities of rivalry are present. One must be very low in the scale of human evolution to feel superior adaptation on witnessing the fall of an animal. (See, however, the parenthesis to (c).)
(n) We show teeth when embarrassed, because we feel our adaptation is inferior, and we wish to convince the company that it is not inferior. (See (h) and (i).)

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(o) The mishap to a performer on the stage places him in a position of twofold inferiority; because, not only does he cease to be master of the character he is acting, but he also ceases to be master of himself qua man. (See, however, the parenthesis to (c).)
(p) We show teeth only at the schoolboy howlers which we can recognise as such by our own unaided knowledge, because to know them as such through subsequent explanation is tacitly to confess that we might have been guilty of them ourselves — so that what might have been a position of superior adaptation becomes, if knowledge fails us, a position of inferior adaptation.
(q) We show teeth at a pun, in the first place because the repetition of similar sounding words in one sentence is, as Bergson points out, sometimes unintentional and a sign of absent-mindedness (that is to say, inferior adaptation). Alexander Bain also suggests two further reasons. In the grasping of a pun there is self-glory (superior adaptation) at having noticed the play on the words, and there is triumph (superior adaptation) over the degradation of a nobler word. 3
For instance, in Shakespeare's Henry VI. (Part II, Act I, Scene 2), Falstaff and the Prince of Wales are ragging each other.
Says Falstaff: And I prithee, sweet wag, when thou art king, as God save thy grace — majesty I should say, for grace thou wilt have none, —
Prince: What none?
Falstaff: No, by my troth, not so much as will serve to be a prologue to an egg and butter.

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In this triple pun, grace as a prayer, is degraded twice — first by being confused with grace (a form of address) and secondly by recalling grace, elegance in form and manner.
Again in the schoolboy's reply to the Scripture question: "What does 'sick of the palsy' mean? "we get a similar degradation. The boy says: "It means having the palsy so long that you're sick of it."
Here is another instance: "We row in the same boat, you know," said a comic writer to his friend Douglas Jerrold. "True, my good fellow," retorted Douglas Jerrold, "we do row in the same boat, but with different skulls."
The degradation is here obviously the reduction of the noble human cranium to the level of an oar for propelling a boat.
(r) When we understand a joke in a foreign language, we show teeth with more than usual insistence, because we celebrate a twofold triumph — that of understanding the joke and that of understanding the language.
(s) We show teeth when tickled, because, as Dr. Robinson has pointed out, 4 ticklish places are in highly vulnerable and defenceless regions of the body, and the threat to them in tickling is therefore so serious that the relief from inferior adaptation, when it is realised that the threat is not serious, causes a correspondingly high feeling of superior adaptation. Moreover, only intimate associates ever tickle one, and a bodily attention from a very intimate friend is usually met with a feeling of superior adaptation. Added to this is the nervous stimulation, which, particularly in

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erogenous zones, like the neck, is not unpleasant, and is reminiscent (only racially so in the child, of course) of the eternal and time-honoured familiarities of sex-play, during which a feeling of superior adaptation is constant. It should, however, be remembered that all dogs show teeth when being tickled and rolled on the floor. Evidently, as Dr. Robinson points out, the state of one who is being tickled is a very defenceless one, at any moment the ragging may change to a serious menace, and showing teeth by the passive party has probably therefore been a traditional accompaniment of this play for millions of years before man appeared.
(t) We show teeth on meeting a friend, because we are gregarious animals, and every friend means an access of support, strength and good adaptation. (This particular example, as we have seen above, was explained by Penjon most inadequately, and, strange to say, it is regarded by Mr. J. C. Gregory as a particularly difficult test for theories of laughter.) 5
When an enemy appears and we are in company, we show teeth — often quite irrelevantly to the conversation we are having — in order to signal to our enemy that we can be superiorly adapted without him, or her, in our lives. When talking to people in the street, if you notice a smile on their faces, or any hilarity, which seems to be out of all proportion to the matter you are discussing, you may usually take it for granted that someone is hovering about to whom your companion wishes to give the impression of superior adaptation.
(u) If we show teeth at a joke against ourselves, we do so only out of vanity, to convince the joker that we are still superiorly adapted, or else that we are good

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fellows, or "good sports," or whatever the jargon of the day may be for the gregarious hero. If we are not vain, we either do not show teeth at a joke against ourselves, or else we show them out of courtesy, to encourage the joker. (See, however, (h), (i) and (v).)
(v) This is a variation of (h), (i) and (u).
(w) We show teeth at a surprise or an expectation that ends in nothing, which so many investigators have believed to be the occasion of all laughter, because, for millions of years, surprise and expectation have always meant possible danger, possible inferior adaptation. (The Jack-in-the-box is the classical toy of this kind of comedy.) When, therefore, the surprise or expectation turns out to be harmless, or nothing, we rise suddenly from a state of apprehension (possible inferior adaptation) to a state of confidence and safety (superior adaptation). This covers Spencer and Kant's descending incongruity, or the expectation that ends in nothing.
(x) We show teeth at an incongruity because it is the characteristic of a mad world, freed from the mental and physical bondage of logic, reason and scientific method; and, in such a world, even if only imagined, we taste once more of the euphoria of irrational infancy (Freud) or merely of the joys of emancipation from reason (Renouvier, Penjon and John Dewey).
(y) We show teeth at a good nonsense picture by Lear or Bateman, because the figure or scene presented either makes certain human beings appear grotesque, or else is possible only in a world that has abolished the constraints of reason. See (x). (The more harassed we are by the complexities of our real existence, the more

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likely we are to find superior adaptation in such scenes and pictures. Hence the extraordinary and increasing vogue of nonsense, during the gradually increasing complexities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.)
(z) We show teeth at mere caricature because of the reasons under (y), or because we happen to know the people caricatured, and find their least fortunate features so spitefully exaggerated as to render them abnormal, that is to say, inferior people. (It should be noted that "abnormal" always means "sub-normal" to the crowd, who never stop to ascertain whether the aberration from type may not constitute a plus, but always hastily conclude that it constitutes a minus.)
(A) We show teeth at disguises, because they have the power of making the familiar unfamiliar, so that the ascent from inferior adaptation in presence of the unfamiliar, to superior adaptation, operates as in (w); or because disguises transport us to an unreal world — a world of nonsense, a fairy world, or some inadequately explored world of the past, which we imagine to have been better than this (see (x) and (y)); or because a disguise may make a normal human being descend to an inferior being.
(B) We show teeth when others show teeth, because we are gregarious animals, among whom moods are infectious. (We yawn when others yawn. Women cry when they see others cry.) The quality of sympathy does not, as the etymology of the word implies, lead to fellow feeling only for suffering, it imposes on those who possess it — particularly the uncontrolled — every mood that is conspicuous among their fellows.

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(C) We show teeth at a good ruse, a good trick, a good case of diamond cut diamond, and also at a "witticism, because we sympathise, or side with the stronger party — the witty or resourceful speaker or trickster — and share his superior adaptation. (We only do so, however, in the case of witticisms, provided the point of the witticism does not hurt or offend our own peculiar susceptibilities. We laugh uproariously at a witticism that conforms with our own fads or beliefs, we hardly smile at one which exposes or assails them. I have tested this again and again with mixed audiences of men and women, by reciting Napoleon's witticism on the difference between success in war and success in love. Napoleon said: "Success in war means surrounding your enemy, routing him, and driving him from the field. Success in love means — escape." Without exception the men in the audience have always laughed at this, and the women and girls have always remained coldly silent and grave.
(D) We show teeth at good mimicry or imitation: (1) because of sympathy with the superior adaptation (skill) of the imitators; (2) because of the element of deception which, however, does not deceive us; (3) because, in the case of mimicry of persons, the imitation usually caricatures and therefore belittles them; (4) because when men imitate cats and dogs, elephants, etc., they humanise the beasts (see (d) and (x)); and (5) because of the incongruity — nonsense state — of the situation: here you have a bird, or the sound of a bird, or a cat, or the sound of a cat, and no bird or cat. (See (x).)

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(E) We show teeth in a mock intellectual way when, at a public debate, one disputant cracks a joke against his opponent; and we (particularly the less alert intellectually) regard the disputant who has had the joke cracked against him as defeated in the argument, because a crowd cannot help feeling, owing to the instincts associated with showing teeth, that a man or woman against whom they are showing teeth must be inferior. Hence the trick of raising a laugh against your opponent in debate, which was recommended by the Greek Gorgias as early as the fifth century B.C. 6
(F) The superior adaptation felt by most decent and normal people when they hear stories or references either frankly indecent or bordering on the indecent, is really no different from the superior adaptation felt by the savage and shown by him in roars of laughter, when confronted by a frankly obscene act or display. It is due to the release from a constraint — in this case from one of decency — and to the consequent generation of an intense feeling of freedom and probably also of primitive and infantile irresponsibility and euphoria. It is also due in part to the fact that indecent stories and illusions turn almost exclusively on bodily functions, particularly those of sex, all of which are traditionally associated with superior adaptation. Of course. Puritans who suffer from a neurotic phobia, whether of the functions of the organs of sex, or of some other part of the body, will not feel this superior adaptation, or will repress it. Reminded by the indecent or salacious story, of their neurosis, they will feel more inferiorly adapted than ever, and will not, therefore, show teeth. The kind of obscenity the

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savage laughs uproariously at, however — for instance, to mention one example at random, that described by E. E. Evans-Pritchard in his able paper on this subject 7 — although more gross than that at which the civilised white man laughs, serves, as Mr. Pritchard shows, the same purpose in savage life. It releases the onlooker from constraints and conventions, the only difference being that the savage is often obliged, not necessarily owing to the greater immorality of his life, but rather to his greater familiarity with the sight of male and female nudity, to resort to more drastic breaches of what the European considers decency.
A number of further examples can now be added.
(G) A child smiles and laughs when it is being teased, a grown-up person does the same when he is being taunted, because each hopes by means of the bluff of showing teeth, to defeat his tormentor by feigning superior adaptation although inferior adaptation is felt. Shakespeare said: "They laugh that win." 8 Yes, but they also laugh that lose, if they who lose are anxious to despoil the victor of one of the most precious fruits of his victory — the evidence of inferior adaptation in the vanquished.
(H) People laugh easily and uproariously in a court of law or in any grave assembly, because in surroundings of great solemnity where constraints 'and great individual restraint are imposed, any excuse to break through the irksome limitations of liberty is seized with unreasoning avidity, and for a moment superior adaptation is tasted and wildly expressed in the instinctive fashion by the most silent and most constrained of those present (the spectators). Hence the absurd ease

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with which judges, magistrates and presiding commissioners acquire a reputation for wit and humour. Alexander Bain noticed this. 9 (Children have a tendency to laugh in church and at funerals for the same reason.)
(I) People show teeth encouragingly at anyone who has just escaped a serious injury, or who has just been rescued from danger. They hope, by the principle of sympathy to bring someone who is depressed by inferior adaptation speedily back to a consciousness of his superior adaptation. Mothers do this to their children after a fall or an accident that has turned out to be trifling.
(J) Nothing so intrigues a whole company as solitary laughter; because until the cause of the solitary laugh is discovered, everyone present, knowing that he lies under the suspicion of being laughed at, cannot rest until he has cleared up the mystery and set at rest the doubts about his superior adaptation which the solitary laugher has raised. Hence the familiar anxious demand: "Do tell me what you are laughing at!"
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:35 pm

Quote :
We never laugh at a horse, a child or an old woman who falls.

(m) We fear no competition or rivalry from a horse, a child, an old woman, or an old man. They do not threaten our adaptation, consequently we are not conscious of our superior adaptation when they fall. But a child may show teeth when another child falls, because possibilities of rivalry are present. One must be very low in the scale of human evolution to feel superior adaptation on witnessing the fall of an animal. (See, however, the parenthesis to (c).)
"200. Laughter

Laughter means: being schadenfroh but with a good conscience. [schadenfroh: the word is famous for being untranslatable; it signifies taking a malicious delight in the discomfort of another person.]" -N

There would be no "good conscience" accompanying schadenfroch laughing at a horse, child or old woman falling... It would be too cruel.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:47 pm

Include, in this, the Jewish presence in United State's popular comedy, the comedy of the nihilist.

Include, in this, the popular usage of "LOL" as an electronic showing of teeth.

This is why imbeciles cannot help but expose their quality. While they think they are doing one thing they are exposing another.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 3:32 pm

Humans don't have sharp, ferocious looking teeth, so I'm not sure how a human showing of teeth is a display of dominance.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:16 pm

In my experience people laugh because they're happy....
Unless it's fake, and that can be used to cover many bases.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:17 pm

Primal Rage wrote:
Humans don't have sharp, ferocious looking teeth, so I'm not sure how a human showing of teeth is a display of dominance.
It is....

It's why rich people are so obsessed with white teeth. ; -)
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:27 pm

Very Happy 
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:33 pm

Maybe, just maybe, when thinking of human beings, or any subject, instead of thinking it in a very shallow way, you may consider - my advice, take it or leave it - within a broader, in timescale, perspective.

Think, for example, or study, the behaviour of chimpanzees, our closest relatives.
Why do they bear their teeth, and why is looking someone in the eye a sign of aggression, when within human environments, looking someone in the eye is expected, and a sign of respect?
What is respect?
Why do infants look in the eyes, even amongst chimps?

Think more about primal environments. Is the reptilian brain connected, encased, by a grey matter that evolved gradually, in time?
Does it still have an effect, or is it there for cosmetic purposes?

Do animals do something rationally or symbolically, instinctively?

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:36 pm

Why do babies frown when feeling unpleasant?
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:38 pm

Probably because they gotta poop.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:39 pm

Evolutionary reasons, Echo Laughing 
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:43 pm

Ah, and he who can read the signs, like this one, understand more.

Like ...why do women push back their heads, exposing their necks, when laughing, in an exaggerated style?
That one is easy.
Why do they flip their hair, or rub their earlobes?
Why do men lean back, and puff out their chests?

What subtle verbal cues do they make?
Why do they become more pronounced when in the presence of a female of sexual interest?

Why do men lose all sense of time/space, and see only the focus of their need: the object/objective?

Fascinating.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:46 pm

No doubt, we still carry our primal instincts with us as humans. But I simply don't get how a showing of human teeth is seen as a display of dominance/agression since, as prior mentioned, humans don't have the typical predatory sharp and ferocious teeth. I don't feel intimidated when someone smiles at me.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:49 pm

Primal Rage wrote:
No doubt, we still carry our primal instincts with us as humans. But I simply don't get how a showing of human teeth is seen as a display of dominance/agression since, as prior mentioned, humans don't have the typical predatory sharp and ferocious teeth. I don't feel intimidated when someone smiles at me.
because smiles, in modern environments, are meant to display stress-release ...comfort.

You've not been smiled at, in the right way.
You'll feel it when you see it...if you ever do.

In lions there is also a bearing of the teeth as a male approaches and mounts.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:02 pm




I feel what you mean now...
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:03 pm

Echo wrote:
In my experience people laugh because they're happy....
Unless it's fake, and that can be used to cover many bases.
Do you always laugh when you're happy? Which instances of 'being happy' compel you to show teeth?
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:17 pm

Satyr wrote:
Include, in this, the Jewish presence in United State's popular comedy, the comedy of the nihilist.

Include, in this, the popular usage of "LOL" as an electronic showing of teeth.

This is why imbeciles cannot help but expose their quality. While they think they are doing one thing they are exposing another.
Exactly, this is why leftists and their Jewish idols love to joke about the right. To 'get the joke' about your enemies means to feel like you are better adapted to the world than them.

Leftists love to feel, and they are sorely lacking in adaptation to the world outside their bubble.
So they really love to feel adapted while watching Jon Stewart or Bill Maher, without having to know they are wrong and weak.


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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:30 pm

Satyr wrote:
Maybe, just maybe, when thinking of human beings, or any subject, instead of thinking it in a very shallow way, you may consider - my advice, take it or leave it - within a broader, in timescale, perspective.

Think, for example, or study, the behaviour of chimpanzees, our closest relatives.
Why do they bear their teeth, and why is looking someone in the eye a sign of aggression, when within human environments, looking someone in the eye is expected, and a sign of respect?
What is respect?
Why do infants look in the eyes, even amongst chimps?  

Think more about primal environments. Is the reptilian brain connected, encased, by a grey matter that evolved gradually, in time?
Does it still have an effect, or is it there for cosmetic purposes?

Do animals do something rationally or symbolically, instinctively?    
Well said Satyr. Show your teeth to almost any animal, and it will be interpreted only one way.

Just because we humans evolved to misinterpret the showing of teeth (probably to increase cooperation and reduce conflict), doesn't mean the instinct to show teeth has suddenly become benign in nature.

A deep-rooted instinct like showing teeth can't just disappear because we evolved away from being dominating and animalistic. Evolution doesn't do splenectomies, especially to such deeply rooted parts of our psychology.

It's much easier for evolution to simply make us misinterpret showing teeth as something else.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:52 am

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Nov 11, 2013 4:40 pm

Good read. Thanks for the link.

He's right that Ludovici's theory is extremely broad. But so are the situations in which one might laugh. Any comprehensive theory needs to be very broad.

And if pleasure isn't connected to feelings of superior adaptation, nothing is. Pleasure is very relevant to feelings of fitness.
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PostSubject: Question: Emotional responses, smiles and laughter, and the psychology behind. Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:35 am

I remember Satyr talked in one of his videos about emotional responses and arguments, and made a good psychoanalyzis around that. I cant find the video, and his videos are many and lenghty. So I'll ask it here.

This usage of laughter, and smile to divert attention away from the lack of subtance in their arguments, and to ridicule opposite views. This subject in itself is very crusial for it's a way to communicate information, and getting trough to public, and awaken public awareness. Laughter is a slander and usually direct response to a made argument. I see how Satyr keeps his calm, and directs his linquistic energy towards the right leverage.

How does one approuch that sitsuation scientifically? Is there an underline primal motivation other then "ego"? How does one approuch laughter, and can laugher in itself be ridiculed as a natural response? Especially if one is a minority and majority is using laugher as a social weapon? How to turn the tide so to speak, and force them to take things seriously.

I have my own personal positive experiences, but that usually involves time and just hammering the same arguments over and over again. People's dialectics are good, and their cognitive dissonance even greater.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:52 pm

Laughter is a stress relief, an expulsion of energies when a sudden unexpected stimuli, a threat, offers the pleasure of being detached from it...a detaching from the scenario being presented and which is always negative towards one of the participants.

The bearing of the teeth , we call smiling, which often accompanies this sudden release of energies, as an expulsion of relief once stress has been built-up, hides a defensive threat.
The throwing back of the head, exposes the neck and the bearing of the teeth is a warning, fake in its humility:
"I surrender, but I warn you do not hurt me."

This is why comics feel that sense of power, on stage, and why laughter is, and producing it in others, is a form of dominance - the intellectual kind.
Laughing is relieving because it is like a coughing away.
The one exposed to a possibility which is threatening - always presented indirectly as if it were occurring to someone else - the mind feels relief, first because it is happening to a hypothetical other, and second because he can push it away, dismiss it, distance himself from it with this expulsion of wind.
He expresses vulnerability, surrender, insecurity, toward the prospect, and relieves himself with this distancing, this coughing which expels that which threatens.

The bearing of the teeth and the movement and exposure of the neck is both a surrender and a warning.

-------------------------

In modern nihilistic sheltering systems cynicism prevails.
Nothing is relevant, and so nothing can be taken seriously. Nature, the past, reality, the world, are all distanced ...detached, pushed away ...laughed away.

The modern sheltering, mind, remaining in a state of stunted development, is child-like.
It is "fearless" because it is protected.
It can laugh, in that stress relieving manner, at anything real, because it remains detached form it.
Everything becomes a joke because nothing matters which is outside the common, the self-evident, the given, the popular.

Such a mind can laugh away anything that comes close to causing it stress, because it is already existing in an institutionalized bubble.
The "truths" are given, adopted and they come to it from established authority sources.
The rest is nothing but what can be ridiculed.
No matter how stupid and ignorant a mind is it, at the very least, knows that there is someone out there who knows best, and this someone has told him a "truth" which no reason, no argument, can shatter.

-------------------------

From another point of view, feminization implies that all males, including hyper-masculine ones, are emasculated.
The popular psychology is distinctly female.

Females are pragmatic, in that they surrender to power.
Entropy is irresistible. Order is imperfect and ephemeral ...it is washed away by increasing entropy.
The male is about order.
The female is attracted to the male, but also laughs at him, knowing that no matter his superior physical and mental attributes, his superior order, he too must be swept away by chaos.

Jewish comedy is an outcrop of this feminine cynical, ridicule of all forms of order.
The ancient tragic/comedy has given in to comedy, as an outer pretense, while the tragedy is repressed and internalized.
The weakling, the coward, the inferior laughs at what is above it, because it will suffer the same fate as everyone else.
That in the brief moment of conscious existence the weakling exposes itself as what it is, for eternity, fails to register.
What matters for the victim of nature, is that all, even the beautiful, even the genius, will give-into entropy, like the retard and the ugly.

This is equality via the negative.
Life, the perpetuation of order, retains the memory of it...and so this must be destroyed.
Forgetfulness, as expressed by nihilism, is this desire to destroy all evidence of the inferior's essence.


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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:41 am

Thank you very much. I find the poin about laughter being a stress releaf to be most helpful. It all ties back to nihlism, to shelter it
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:44 am

Laughter is also a form of hyperventilation.
I think this is a preparatory phase for the fight/flight mechanism.

------------------------------

He who makes us laugh holds a position above us.
He can expose us to what we hide from, helping us expunge what we repress in a fit of hyperventilating, stress relieving spasmodic display.

Our anxieties regarding the topic being set-up as a plausible scenario is a source of a hidden fear, and that it is occurring to another, is what we are grateful for.
Our joy is guarded, and strained. It erupts out of us, with the help of the comedian who acts as a hypnotist placing us, with his storytelling and his own attitude – the energy he exudes – in the right frame of mind to let the process come to fruition.  

He is like a therapist, for whom we are both thankful for providing his expertise, and we resent because by seeking him out we admit we need help.
He must make us feel comfortable enough to let those repressed anxieties spill forth uncontrollably.
In comedy the actor does this by humbling himself before the audience.
He makes himself the joke, allowing the listeners to use him as a vehicle to reveal themselves by hiding behind him.

The comedian is a modern-day scapegoat.
He is to be ridiculed so that our own shame, and fear, can be projected upon him or her.

------------------------------

The modern-day comedian, the artist of mirth, must place himself at the lowest status point before his audience.
His power over them will only be accepted if he first shows the proper humility before them, just as with the process of choosing a leader in Democratic systems.
Once his own humiliation is established he is permitted to say whatever he likes to those who can now nod in agreement, as if the entire act is not about them or what is inside of them.

Within modern nihilistic systems, where reality is annulled, the comedian expresses reality by ridiculing it and all who participate within it – it takes on a cynical, resentful, vindictive quality.
The actor turns himself into the worse example of everything the audience fears, and hates because of this fear.
Only in the context of a joke can anything honest be uttered, because then the speaker, the joker, can claim that he was only acting, though what he said could only have been effective if it was based on a reality all participants deny or try to forget and escape.
The tragic, about the human condition, is flipped into a source of mirth.
It is ridiculed out of consciousness.

We notice this practice amongst the adolescent, born into sheltering environments where this raw jaded attitude of entitlement, accompanies any exposure to anything outside their comfort zones.
No idea is left free from shaming, because then all is equally irrelevant, and inconsequential.
For the modern, sheltered, nihilist, all is turned into a big joke, a prank, a kidding-around, as in remaining kids in regards to all and everything.
Respect, care, is gone because nothing can touch them within their protective institutionalized shield; nothing matters because nothing has a price which cannot be paid or cannot be erased.
Everything becomes a joke.

------------------------------

Joy produces laughter as it represents a release of stored energies meant to be directed towards fight/flight.
It is the appreciation of a state where nothing foreseeable will require this automatic (re)action.

In a state of comfort, the individuals feels secure, his energies sufficient to provide him with what he requires to continue existing.
He can now discharge energy because he no longer requires it.
He laughs at the world, with the world, power brimming out of him as carefree pleasure.

------------------------------

The comedian humbles himself to permit the audience to accept him as someone beneath them and so someone that cannot hurt them.
Laughter is produced as the listener acknowledges the truth of what is being stated, offered as a surprising jolt that circumvents defensiveness, and the laughter is a display of power before this truth.
The one laughing is signaling with his neck and teeth exposed, that he is detached from the truth being stated.
The story teller is the one beneath them, and what he is saying is distanced with the mocking ridicule. His power over them, and their state of mind, is dismissed as irrelevant, as laughable. The eyes close in an act of indifference to the imagery being presented.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:01 pm

Although so far I'm only familiar with excerpts of his work posted here by Lyssa and others, I recall that Sloterdijk distinguished between the cynical and the kynical. If I'm not mistaken, the cynical is the subconsciously fearful slander of all that is outside the memetic comfort zone of a nihilistic sheltering that Satyr alluded to in his comments thus far in this thread, whilst the kynical is the simultaneously aloof and generous deconstruction of the meaningless, self-referential symbolic orders inherent in artificial environments.

The imperative of the cynic is to live in accordance to the social reality, whereas the imperative of the kynic is to live in accordance to Nature. The cynic grotesquely mocks in willful ignorance that of which is above him (that which has substantial, pre-symbolic meaning); his attraction to Jewish (parodic) comedy is the sure expression of his ressentiment. On the other hand, the kynic playfully displays the absurdity and lack of substance behind sheltering norms by frankly displaying himself as the living embodiment of that which the sheltered nihilist resents.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:04 pm

Yes, Sloterdijk does make that distinction between kynical, and cynical.

Kynical, from kynos, dog/canine.
To live outside man-made constructs; to see the hypocrisy in the human social method.

Cynic, a form of jaded sheltering, where things are taken for granted and all is laughable because nothing offers a cost to make it something to care about.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:07 am

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"Humor is the only domain of creative activity where a stimulus on a high level of complexity produces a massive and sharply defined response on the level of physiological reflexes. This paradox enables us to use the response as an indicator for the presence of that elusive quality, the comic, which we are seeking to define” (Koestler, Act of Creation, p.31; emphasis by the author)."
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:08 am

Quote :
"By suddenness is understood here unexpectedness such as that occasioned by the perception of something extraordinary that does not easily fit into our habitual modes of organizing our thoughts, emotions, movements or perceptions, rather than swiftness, though the two ideas are closely associated. For often it is the swiftness with which the unexpected element intrudes into the dominant operative field that prevents the harmonious integration—or at least the tendency to such integration—of the new element by modifying the existing field or the element itself. [The philosopher] Abhinava was seen associating hâsa with ‘suddenness’ (“lightning-like”), but which he also attributed to the emotional reaction of surprise (vismaya). While expounding his superiority-theory of humor, Hobbes has claimed that “whatsoever it be that moveth laughter, it must be new and unexpected.” Subjecting Hobbes’ theory of humor to close scrutiny, La Fave et al conclude that “the insight which amuses typically (perhaps invariably) is sudden. Thus a useful humor formula might be: amusement results from a sudden happiness increment consequent to a perceived incongruity” (Humor and Laughter p.86).

This element of suddenness in the comic or in jokes has been felt by most theorists and explicitly recognized by some, but since suddenness is even more intimately linked to the reaction of surprise, this has understandably led the latter, of whom Freud is an outstanding example, to see in surprise itself one of the essential ingredients of a living joke. “We are able to understand the peculiar fact about jokes that they only produce their full effect on the hearer if they are new to him, if they come as a surprise to him. This characteristic of jokes (which determines the shortness of their life and stimulates the constant production of new jokes) is evidently due to the fact that the very nature of surprising someone or taking him unawares implies that it cannot succeed a second time.

When a joke is repeated, the attention is led back to the first occasion of hearing it as the memory of it arises. And from this we are carried on to an understanding of the urge to tell a joke one has heard to other people who have not yet heard it. One probably recovers from the impression the joke makes on the newcomer some of the possibility of enjoyment that had been lost owing to its lack of novelty. And it may be that it was analogous motive that drove the creator of the joke in the first instance to tell it to someone else” (Freud, JU p.207).

Our own experience tells us that Freud here has put his finger on some valid and fundamental element of the mechanism of appreciating a joke, and linguistic usage which recognizes the distinction between ‘fresh’ jokes and ‘stale’ or ‘dead’ jokes seems to vouch for this insight. Yet anyone familiar with the clear-cut distinction between the funny and the surprising, in Indian aesthetics cannot help but question the manner of conceiving this relationship between jokes and the element of surprise. Freud apparently implies that it is the newness of the joke, the fact of its never having been heard before, that is directly responsible for the effect of surprise, though there is nothing to prove this definitively. On the other hand, he leaves unsolved the exact role of surprise in the psychic mechanisms that release the necessary quota of superfluous energy to be discharged as laughter: why should this mechanism cease to be fully operative in the absence of surprise?

The criticisms leveled by La Fave et. al. against the conception of suddenness in Hobbesian humor theory apply with full force against Freud’s own appeal to surprise:

“Suddenness seems a necessary ingredient in an adequate recipe for humor—a humorous experience appears to require that the amused experience a sufficient rate of increment in happiness or joy per unit time. Without suddenness the slope of the happiness increment would conceivably be insufficiently precipitous to generate amusement. However, Hobbes apparently conceives of suddenness in a different sense: that which is new and unexpected generates surprise. Clearly, however, surprise cannot be a necessary component of humor, or jokes heard before could hardly amuse. Yet often they do. Contrary to Hobbes’ opinion Hollingsworth reported some types of jokes more amusing if already familiar. Apparently surprise is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition of amusement (though such ‘novelty’ probably does often serve to enhance the magnitude of the amusement). In any event Hobbes’ view on suddenness seems clearly erroneous” (Humor and Laughter p.64).

The existence of jokes which remain as fresh as ever provoking as much amusement now as in their first telling—‘classics’ as it were—or even greater amusement, is sufficient to prove that the suddenness characteristic of jokes lies in reality elsewhere than in the surprise of novelty, though we need not exclude a priori a possible relation between the two.

The effect of surprise somehow seems to linger on, even when the witticism has grown old. La Fave et. al. attribute the suddenness to the sharp rate of joy-increment but are unable to account for this sharp rate, necessary for amusement, in terms of the dynamics intrinsic to the processing of the joke itself. At the same time, they do not account for Freud’s nevertheless valid observation that, with most jokes, repeated telling erodes the surprise-effect of the joke and in the process deprives it of its original funniness. If suddenness is the precondition for the happiness increment to be high enough to generate amusement, we must certainly ask ourselves how familiarity, in the case of Hollingsworth’s jokes, could possibly enhance the effect of suddenness.

It is the bisociation theory alone that can satisfactorily account for the vital role of suddenness in the comic experience without confusing it with surprise in general, in such a way that both Freud’s and Hollingsworth’s observations become intelligible within the framework of a single theory of humor. The sharper the contrast or opposition between the two operative fields forming the bisociation, the more sudden or unexpected will be their mutual collision at the junctional concept corresponding to the convulsion.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:09 am

Quote :
"“The effect of a joke may thus be described as the sudden clash of two swift-flowing, independent association streams in the listener’s mind. The clash must have the impact of surprise; and this can only be achieved if every contact between the two streams is avoided until they meet at the appointed junction. But…a person responds only to that type of joke which sets of a train of habit-formed associations, leading to automatic expectations, in his mind. Receptivity for a given kind of joke varies with intellectual level and habitus; the joke will have no effect if the listener’s mind is unable to embark on the proper association current. But it will be equally ineffective if the level of his intelligence is too high, so that he takes in the whole pattern of the joke at one glance, from a bird’s eye view, as it were; in this case the convergence of the two streams is seen from the beginning, and the effect of surprise is lost” (Koestler, Insight and Outlook, p.27).

Since both association currents are derived from the content of the joke, the element of ‘surprise’ is already contained within the structure of the joke and is not external to it. In other words, it is not the unexpectedness of the total joke-content when heard for the first time that is responsible for the surprise, but the sudden juxtaposition of two associative contexts that are habitually never brought into relation with each other in this particular manner. It is the inner consistency and cohesiveness of one field that resists the sharing of some of its members with the opposing field, held together by its own selective operator incompatible with the first field, and thereby ensures the suddenness of the clash when it comes. The sudden intensity of the bisociative clash, therefore, depends not only on

1) the mutual incompatibility of the two fields but also

2) the strength of the bond holding the junctional concept to the particular form of coherence constituting each field.

Where both fields have a simple and familiar principle of coherence, the attention is simultaneously and easily trapped into the opposing networks to produce the clash. But where either or both fields are more complex, subtle and require unfamiliar thought processes, the repetition of the joke can only intensify and accelerate the associative currents necessary for producing the desired clash, and our appreciation of the joke’s funniness seems to be heightened through repetition. A similar gain in amusement is also possible through exposure to a variety of jokes possessing a similar structure and calling up the same associations. The effect of repetition is to increase what Koestler has aptly termed the ‘facilitation’ of the associative flow in the listener’s mind. This permits us to understand why certain jokes are more amusing if already familiar.

On the other hand, the first of the two conditions stipulated above also explains why most jokes grow stale and lose their funny appeal with time, for “after a concept has become bisociated with two previously independent associative currents, these cease to be ‘independent’; that is, the contact thus established between them will make them coalesce into one continuous flow. What came originally as a surprise has become a though habit. Hence a joke is only effective the first time; hence, also, a revolutionary discovery becomes a platitude after a while. In other words, a given bisociative connection becomes, after a few repetitions, if not at once, transformed into an ordinary associative connection and is incorporated into the mental habitus” (Koestler, Insight and Outlook pp.37-38).

The suddenness consists in the unexpected juxtaposition of two impressions of the self-same stimulus. For bisociation to occur the two contrary impressions, though simultaneous, should remain distinct and sharply conflicting—they should not blend or harmonize—and the suddenness or unusualness of an event, object or perception is a common and highly effective technique of ensuring this sharp contrast. It is this refusal to coalesce that explains why in our experience “the insight which amuses is typically (perhaps invariably) sudden.”

But where this suddenness is merely the effect of theinhabitual juxtaposition of familiar modes of processing a familiar object, the repetition can only have the effect of making the inhabitualhabitual and what was originally a bisociation of the link concept becomes just another association. Such is especially the case with jokes that depend primarily on word-play, particularly word-play based on sound affinities.

Surprise is characterized by a pleasure that is sudden (literally: ‘lightning-like’) and indeterminate.”  The attention has been switched to the intruding element but is unable to integrate it into the conceptual or perceptual frameworks at its immediate disposal, either because the intruder is so extraordinary in itself, because it presents itself in a context to which it does not seem to belong, or because its emergence is so swift that it seizes the total attention before the appropriate framework for comprehending or assimilating it can be called up. This is just another way of saying that it provokes surprise only so long as it remains ‘indeterminate’, that is, not integrated into the frame of reference appropriate to it. And it is this clash with the operative fields reigning at the moment, that gives this intrusion the character of suddenness. The suddenness of surprise therefore results in curiosity, problem-solving or concept learning, involving behavioral reactions of approach, and other purposive activity that aims at reintegrating the surprise-stimulus into more familiar frames of reference. The stimulus is ‘incongruous’ not in the sense that it is bisociated with two opposing yet familiar and habitual operative fields, not because we are unable to integrate it simultaneously into two conflicting modes of association, but simply in the sense that it does not seem to belong to any field at all. The suddenness in humour does not abolish the ‘determinate’ nature of the perception that underlies it, for it is due not to the strange stimulus impinging upon frameworks that resist it but to the mutual clash of stubborn frameworks over a stimulus that can escape neither.

Where the nature of the fields is such that they of themselves resist all tendency to the blurring of their mutual contrast, the inherent suddenness persists, and may even increase; though the joke lacks the surprise of novelty it yet remains fresh like an evergreen. Such is that case where the fields involved owe their respective coherence not to mere habitual association but to stringent rules of a logical and/or psychological nature that ensure the permanent incompatibility of these two mutually exclusive yet simultaneous modes of organizing the joke-content. But where it is a question only of an inhabitual but mechanical juxtaposition, as in many species of the comic, the repetition of the juxtaposition creates a new association, if it does not merely extend the existing associative fields, and the suddenness, and with it the laughter, fades. Though it cannot be claimed that surprise and bisociative laughter are mutually exclusive, for many stimuli, as evidenced especially by magic tricks, produce both simultaneously, the above analysis, it is hoped, has satisfactorily demarcated the province of the suddenness of comic incongruity (or contrast) from the suddenness of surprise."
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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:09 am

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"Another study of laughter in college students revealed 49% of the jokes to sexual and excrement jokes. Excrement jokes necessarily contain an element of disgust and this element is not lacking in those sexual jokes that would be classified as obscene (‘dirty’), though the latter also contain the opposing element of positive sexual affect. This type of the comic based on the negative affect of disgust is especially important in the ritual clowning common to many ‘primitive’ and traditional societies, where the clowns violate powerful taboos interdicting all contact with organic impurities. In an attenuated sense, this is true of the Jester (Vidusaka) of the Sanskrit drama who also indulges, by prescription, in generous doses of obscene language.

The bisociative mechanism behind the laughter caused by sexual obscenities is quite apparent, in that the disgust-stimulus becomes a laughter stimulus not by ceasing to evoke disgust but by simultaneously evoking positive sexual affect, the mutual neutralization (no/yes) being responsible for the laughter. In the case of purely scatological elements, as in the ceremonial clowning of the Pueblo Indians where excrement, urine and other disgustingly impure substances are consumed, it would go against everything we know about the attitude to impurity in these societies to suggest that as laughter-stimuli they must be wholly distinguished from their normal role of disgust-stimuli. It is clear that the social position of the clowns—generally they are powerful religious figures, even ruling priests in the case of the Zuni Koyemci clowns—who handle these impurities, has much to do with the transformation into laughter-stimuli. “It is this larger context which is obvious in sociological and anthropological studies which serves to moderate everything a comedian or clown says and does. It is quite one thing when a ritual Zuni clown drinks great draughts of urine amid the roaring merriment of the spectators and quite another when a psychotic patient does so in a hospital back-ward. In one case we have humor and laughter, in the other, only madness and woe. Because of the very strong effect social factors seem to play in defining what is permissible and/or appropriate, it seems necessary to look at such factors before we turn more directly to comedy and comedians” (Pollio & Edgerly, pp.216-17).

Similarly, the Jester, though assimilated to a madman of sorts, stands in a privileged relationship to the king as his equal (together forming the two principal male characters of the ritual-drama), and this valorization contributes too his comic effect. It is because to a certain degree we are able to identify with the ritual clown in his handling of impurities, that the opposing reaction of disgust is discharged as laughter.

Before we leave the subject of the psychological reactions evoked by ritual clowns in their traditional audiences, it is relevant to note the preponderant role of fear and its rapid alternation with laughter, exactly as was observed for the school-children studied by Blurton Jones. The Amerindian clowns, during their public rituals inspire both hilarity and fear at the same time, and if they approach too close (let us not forget that often they are masked), “the smiles of the women and children quickly change to expressions of surprise, tempered with fear.”
The Assineboine clowns provoke the laughter of their audience, but also frighten them. Seligman, for example, mentions the intermingling of fear and laughter of the Shilluk, running away from the figures of Nyikang and Dak.
So characteristic is this response that L. Makarius, “this intermingling of hilarity and fear is, ethnologically speaking, a s stereotype sufficient to betray the presence of a clown. The ambivalent behavior of the public reflects the ambivalent character attributed the clown…”

She goes on to stress the contradictory attitudes to the clown of his people, who not only grant him the highest social valorization but “at the same time recoil from him as an unclean being, to whom every kind of impurity is assimilated and whose contact is defiling and baneful” (ibid., p.57), which shows that in the clown the stimuli of fear and those of disgust are often indistinguishable from each other. Seen in the light of the theory of bisociation, the very laughter itself is marked by ambivalence, the negative ‘distressing’ affects of fear and disgust being neutralized by their exalted place in the ritual. The basic function of the ritual clown, including the Jester of the Sanskrit theater, is the violation of socio-religious taboos...

Rather than a mere intermingling, the fear/disgust may be seen as necessary components of the bisociative laughter. The problem then becomes one of determining the factors that contribute towards the component of positive affect towards such comic figures, which by neutralizing the fear and disgust generates our laughter. In the Jester, the fear aspect has been minimized and even reversed to the extent of characterizing him with an exaggerated timidity. The only element of his make-up that perhaps retains this fear-evoking role is his deformity and ugliness, itself symbolic of transgression.

What is common to all these four kinds of stimuli—of fear, anger, disgust and sorrow—when promoted to the status of laughter stimuli is that they all contribute, each in its own specific way, the component of negative emotion, of pain, necessary for the emotional bisociation discharged as laughter. This assumption is simpler, hence more ‘scientific’ than to assume that each type of the above stimuli ceases to evoke its specific negative emotion while functioning as laughter-stimulus.

The pleasure involved in the specific consummatory act of fulfillment which liberates the tensions inherent in hunger, sex, fear, anger or enthusiasm—a fulfillment towards which these emotions tend but which nevertheless remain ‘outside’ them—is, in the case of laughter, derived from the purposeless explosion of the excitement. The tensions of the constituent emotions of bisociative laughter are not consummated, but released in aimless muscular activity. The process of relief in laughter is not congenial to the emotional tensions involved, unlike clobbering one’s enemy or sexual union with the beloved. Laughter is its own fulfillment."
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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:10 am

Quote :
"Gurdjieff offers us a theory of laughter, independent of any state of amusement (= humor), that nevertheless distinguishes between laughter as a physiological response and the organismic cause of it, which he also calls “laughter.” This organismic variable, though not necessarily the same as humor, is shown to be a complex structure that is radically different from the visible laughter that results from it.

G. made some very interesting remarks about yawning and laughter.

“There are two incomprehensible functions of our organism inexplicable from a scientific point of view,” he said, although naturally science does not admit them to be inexplicable; these are yawning and laughter. Neither the one nor the other can be rightly understood and explained without knowing about accumulators and their role in the organism.

Laughter is also directly concerned with the accumulators. But laughter is the opposite function to yawning. It is not pumpingin , but pumping out, that is the pumping out and the discarding of superfluous energy collected in the accumulators. Laughter does not exist in all the centers, but only in the centers divided into two halves—positive and negative (…). At present we shall take only the intellectual center. There can be impressions which fall at once on the two halves of the center and produce at once asharp ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Such a simultaneous ‘yes’ and ‘no’ produces a kind of convulsion in the center and, being unable to harmonize and digest these two opposite impressions of one fact, the center begins to throw out in the form of laughter the energy which flows into it from the accumulator whose turn it is to supply it. In another instance it happens that in the accumulator there has collected too much energy which the center cannot manage to use up. Then every, the most ordinary, impression can be received as double, that is, it may fall at once on the two halves of the center and produce laughter, that is, the discarding of energy.

You must remember that I am only giving you an outline. You must remember that both yawning and laughter are very contagious. This shows that they are essentially functions of the instinctive and moving centers.”

“Why is laughter so pleasant?” asked someone.

Because,” G. answered, “laughter relieves us of superfluous energy, which, if remained unused, might become negative, that is, poison. We always have plenty of this poison in us. Laughter is the antidote. But this antidote is necessary only so long as we are unable to use all the energy for useful work. It is said of Christ that he never laughed. And indeed you will find in the Gospels no indication or mention of the fact that any time Christ laughed. But there are different ways of not laughing. There are people who do not laugh because they are completely immersed in negative emotions, in malice, in fear, in hatred, in suspicion. And there may be others who do not laugh because they cannot have negative emotions. Understand one thing. In the higher centers there can be no laughter, because in the higher centers there is no division, and no ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”(emphasis ours, and not the author’s). (P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pp.236-37)."
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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:16 am

Satyr wrote:
Yes, Sloterdijk does make that distinction between kynical, and cynical.

Kynical, from kynos, dog/canine.
To live outside man-made constructs; to see the hypocrisy in the human social method.

Cynic, a form of jaded sheltering, where things are taken for granted and all is laughable because nothing offers a cost to make it something to care about.

Cynicism = repression ["enlightened false consciousness" / "reflexively buffered"] - knowing yet carrying on.
Kynicism = resistance. ["being in resistance, in laughter, in refusal, in appeal to the whole of nature and the fullness of life."] - anarchic irony.

'Where cynicism comes near to a splitting of the self, Kynicism becomes the embodiment of this resistance.' [Sloterdijk, Critique, p.366]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:17 am

I wonder how all this can be used to describe internet laughter ...you know that LOL many constantly use to dismiss and ridicule without actually responding.
The fear here must be rationalized, because how does one type laughter, while laughing?

It is a fake kind of display, mimicking the elements in actual laughing that the poster wishes to convey to the one reading ...and all those witnesses.

It's a way of saying:
"This is beneath me" or "None of this touches me, I am immune", by avoiding the concepts involved, but only alluding to them.

Kynicism, is living outside the human cultural norms, but cynicism is depending on them to cast aspersions towards that which threatens cultural norms.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:19 am

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"To understand these apparently irrelevantly provocative gestures, it is worth reflecting on a principle that called into being the doctrines of wisdom and that was regarded by the ancient world as a truism, before modern developments eradicated it. For the philosopher, the human being who exemplifies the love of truth and conscious living, life and doctrine must be in harmony... The appearance of Diogenes marks the most dramatic moment in the process of truth of early European philosophy... With Diogenes, the resistance against the rigged game of ‘discourse’ begins in European philosophy. Desperately funny, he resists the ‘linguistification’ of the cosmic universalism that called the philosopher to this occupation. Whether monologic or dialogic ‘theory’, in both, Diogenes smells the swindle of ldealistic abstractions and the schizoid staleness of a thinking limited to the satirical resistance, an uncivil enlightenment. He starts the non-platonic dialogue. [Sloterdijk (1987b): P. 101 - 102]

It is this cheerful cheekiness which one can find in all of the kynics action, and which distinguishes the kynics attitude from the cynics. The kynics argue with the whole of their bodies, especially with its lower part, which has been neglected through out the history of philosophy. The kynic is similar to the cynic only in so far as they both have an enlightened consciousness. Yet, the enlightened consciousness of the cynics is called false by Sloterdijk, because their consciousness makes them miserable. Whereas the enlightened consciousness of the cynics can be called correct, because they are cheerful, life-affirming, full of vitality and therefore also cheeky.

Cheekiness has, in principle, two positions, namely, above and below, hegemonic power and oppositional power, expressed on the language of the Middle Ages: master and serf. Ancient Kynicism begins the process of ‘naked arguments’ from the opposition, carried by the power that comes from below. The kynic farts, shits, pisses, masturbates on the street, before the eyes of the Athenian market. He shows contempt for fame, ridicules the architecture, refuses respect, parodies the stories of gods and heroes, eats raw meat an vegetables, lies in the sun, fools around with the whores and says to Alexander the Great that he should get out of the sun. What is this supposed to mean?

Kynicism is a first reply to Athenian hegemonic idealism that goes beyond theoretical repudiation. It does not speak against idealism, it lives against it. [Sloterdijk (1987b): P. 103 - 104]

Farting is something one does not do. Like masturbating, pissing and picking ones noses, it is an activity one only does behind closed doors, but one does not do it in public and one never talks about it as well. It is regarded as cheeky if one breaks these conventions, and cheekiness nowadays rather has some negative connotations. However this has not always been the case, as Sloterdijk tells us:

By the way, only in the last few centuries has the word ‘cheeky’ (frech) gained a negative connotation. Initially, as for example in Old High German, it meant a productive aggressivity, letting fly at the enemy: ‘brave, bold, lively, plucky, untamed, ardent.’ The devitalization of a culture mirrored in the history of this word. [Sloterdijk (1987b): P. 102 - 103]

Vitality, life affirmation, living, laughing, celebrating is all linked to Kynicism. As I have already said Kynicism as well as Cynicism reject any form of belief in absolutes. It is the life affirming attitude of Kynicism which distinguishes it from Cynicism.

In idealism... the ideas stand at the top and gleam in the light of attentiveness; matter is below, a mere reflection of the idea, a shadow, an impurity... [How does Kynicism react?] The excluded lower element goes to the marketplace and demonstratively challenges the higher element. Feces, urine, sperm! ‘Vegetate’ like a dog, but live, laugh and take care to give the impression that behind all this lies not confusion but clear reflection.” [Sloterdijk (1987b): P. 104]

The reflection which must be apparently implicit in ones actions, expresses itself not verbally but within the bodily arguments typical for the kynic. That it is difficult to respond to these sort of arguments became obvious in the way Plato related to Diogenes:

However, neither Socrates nor Plato can deal with Digenes - for he talks with them ‘differently too’, in a dialogue of flesh and blood. Thus, for Plato there remained no alternative but to slander his weird and unwieldy opponent. He called him a “Socrates gone mad” (Socrates mainoumenos). The phrase is intended as an annihilation, but it is the highest recognition. [Sloterdijk (1987b): P. 104]

Those who rule lose their real self-confidence to the fools, clowns, and kynics: for this reason, an anecdote has Alexander the Great say that he would like to be Diogenes if he were not Alexander. [Sloterdijk (1987b): P. 102]

It is only the kynical attitude which is able to put forward effective reasons against idealism, because of the following reasons.
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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:20 am

Satyr wrote:
I wonder how all this can be used to describe internet laughter ...you know that LOL many constantly use to dismiss and ridicule without actually responding.
The fear here must be rationalized, because how does one type laughter, while laughing?

It is a fake kind of display, mimicking the elements in actual laughing that the poster wishes to convey to the one reading ...and all those witnesses.

it's a way of saying:
"This is beneath me" or "None of this touches me, I am immune", by avoiding the concepts involved, but only alluding to them.
Nice question.

hmm....

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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