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 Humour : The Secret of Laughter

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:28 am

With cynical humour, nothing is serious.
You can say whatever you like, contradict yourself continuously, remain obtuse and ignorant, and then laugh it away ...because the given is established and never in doubt.

Fear is relieved by this acknowledgement that no matter how weak and pathetic you may be you can laugh at being sheltered from this reality.
It does not touch you where it hurts.  
"Free-speech" is for such a mind just shooting the shit, saying anything, exploring the fantastic, never taking any of it seriously.

Philosophy as masturbation.
Now, any idea can be humoured, as in not taken seriously.
If philosophy deals with reality then it is this reality which is being detached from...it is irrelevant, because it does not touch the participants, it does not matter.
That's how idea can now be judged not on their realism, their pragmatic application, but on their emotional content.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:53 pm

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Puzzles of evolutionary biology: why we laugh

One of the more complex aspects of human behaviour is our universal ability to laugh. Laughter has puzzled behavioural biologists for many years because it is hard to imagine how this strange behaviour has evolved.

Why would laughing individuals be fitter in reproductive terms? And why is this ability is built-in, like sneezing, rather than something we learn, like hunting?

Today, we get an interesting insight into these questions along with some tentative answers from Pedro Marijuán and Jorge Navarro at the Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud in Spain.

The evolution of laughter, they say, is intimately linked with the evolution of the human brain, itself a puzzle of the highest order. There is widespread belief that the brain evolved rapidly at the same time as human group sizes increased.

Bigger groups naturally lead to greater social complexity. And it’s easy to imagine that things like language and complex social behaviours are the result of brain evolution. But the latest thinking is more subtle.

Known as the social brain hypothesis, this holds that the brain evolved not to solve complicated ecological problems such as how to use tools, how to hunt more effectively and how to cook. Instead, the brain evolved to better cope with the social demands of living in larger groups.

In chimps, an important aspect of social behaviour is grooming, something they can spend up to 20 per cent of their time doing. Grooming is an activity that takes place in pairs. It is important because it establishes and strengthens bonds between individuals. However, there is a clear practical limit to the number of individuals you can bond with in this way before you begin to starve.

The social brain hypothesis is that language evolved as a way of establishing and strengthening bonds with larger numbers of individuals in a shorter a period of time. Conversation can easily include up to 10 individuals and would have been a skill that dramatically improves the fitness of these individuals for life in the group.

Laughter is simply an extension of this process, say Marijuán and Navarro. Since the act of talking limits the number of individuals who can take part in a conversation, laughter is a method that individuals use to signal their participation in larger group chats. And the result of all this extra bonding is that the larger group, and hence the individuals within it, flourishes.

The idea of the social brain has been around for a few years now. What Marijuán and Navarro bring to the discussion that is new is an explanation for why laughing is built in, rather than something we learn. Their new idea is that the evolution of laughter is analogous to the evolution of blushing.

Blushing occurs when cerebral blood flow is channelled through the facial artery, a branch of the carotid artery that feeds the brain. It serves the important function of relieving the excess flow that occurs during certain social situations. This extra blood flow shows up in the face, not because the face is visible but because that’s where the facial artery goes. The social significance of blushing evolved as a consequence of this.

Laughter is a similar kind of release, say Marijuán and Navarro. The intellectual momentum that builds up during conversation needs to be relieved, either through verbalisation or some other mechanism.

Marijuán and Navarro’s suggestion is that this other mechanism is the channelling of excess cortical excitations to parts of the brain responsible for vocalisation. But without anything specific to say, the result is the kind of panting and cackling that we call laughter. That’s why it is built in. This social significance of this behaviour is the thing that has evolved, not the activity itself.
I actually say the word lol in response to some supposed funny remark, much easier than mustering up fake laughter. It serves as a tension reliever, break the ice so to say. If this theory is correct, then it wouldn't be conceivable that a sociopath could ever laugh out of a genuine nature. Laughing whilst alone would also be also be a form of retardation, mind confusing the body as to what the real situation is.

Modern comedy is like a mnemic of this social function, appealing because it brings with it the sensation of inclusion, being in on the joke. But it's an illusion, perfectly designed for the lowest common denominator, more intelligent people would prefer the real thing, although this is not an option for all.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:53 pm

There will be Blood wrote:
I actually say the word lol in response to some supposed funny remark, much easier than mustering up fake laughter. It serves as a tension reliever, break the ice so to say. If this theory is correct, then it wouldn't be conceivable that a sociopath could ever laugh out of a genuine nature. Laughing whilst alone would also be also be a form of retardation, mind confusing the body as to what the real situation is.
I think this laughing and writing 'lol' and so on is quite complicated in its dynamic. I agree that it relieves tension most of the time but there are many things to consider. 'LOL' can function as an ice-breaker - if so, then the first one who writes it gives in, so to speak. In another instance it can be a reward. Then the one who writes 'LOL' is rewarding the other for being entertaining. Depending on the situation and history of the interaction the meaning can be quite different.

People sometimes laugh when tension is released. This doesn't have to be a personal confrontation with someone, it could be some other form of pressure, some piece of surprising positive news or the escape of physical danger. People also sometimes laugh when they have an "A-ha" effect or when there is some very joyous moment in general.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:04 pm

Alenca Zupancic wrote:
"Tragedy stands at the point of the demand, addressed to the Other; and from this point there is only one true way in which the discrepancy between this demand and the subsequent answer/satisfaction is articulated: as desire and its constitutive nonsatisfaction.

We must be careful to understand this correctly. The fundamentally negative dimension of desire does not come from the fact that the satisfaction is always less than the desire, for it could very well be bigger, excessive. The point is that the excess reads negative because of the diff erence it implies in relation to the demand.

Desire is the subjective figure of this diff erence as irreducible and irredeemable.

Comedy, on the other hand, stands at the point of the satisfaction; and from this point, there is also only one true way in which the discrepancy between this satisfaction and the demand that should correspond to it is articulated: as jouissance, enjoyment or “surplus-satisfaction.” This is what interrupts the complementariness of demand and satisfaction from the point of view of satisfaction.

This difference in standpoint within a certain structural discrepancy also involves a shift in temporality, related to the question of how the dialectics of demand and satisfaction is affected by what comes first. Comedy switches the supposedly natural sequence, in which we start with the demand and end up with more or less inadequate satisfaction. The discrepancy that constitutes the motor of comedy lies not in the fact that satisfaction can never really meet demand, but rather that the demand can never really meet (some unexpectedly produced, surplus) satisfaction. This is not to say that, empirically or dramaturgically speaking, in comedy we cannot start with a demand.

The point is that what comes as the answer to this demand, in all its disproportion, immediately introduces a surplus or a deviation that takes over the game and the initiative. In other words, in comedy it is not the satisfaction that runs after the demand, never able to fully catch up with it; it is, rather, that the satisfaction immediately overtakes the demand, so that the latter now has to stumble after satisfaction. Comedy or, more precisely, comic sequence is always inaugurated by some unexpected surplus-realization. This surplus-realization may well be produced by failure, by a mistake, an error, through misunderstanding (and it usually is), but the moment it occurs it changes
the very structure of the field.
The field of comedy is essentially a field in which the answer precedes the question, satisfaction precedes the demand. Not only do we (or the comic characters) not get what we asked for, on top of it (and not instead of it) we get something we haven’t even asked for at all. And we have to cope with this surprising surplus, respond to it (this is the imperative of the genre). It is this discrepancy of something en plus that leads the way and drives the comedy.

The elementary form of the emergence of a surprising element of surplus-satisfaction/realization (or of a surplus-sense) could be discerned already in the phenomenon of jokes. In his discussion of jokes, Freud put forward the notion of an “incentive bonus,” which could be defined as an unexpected supplement of pleasure that allows the release of more pleasure. Lacan also made this point quite directly: “Witz restores to the essentially unsatisfied demand its jouissance, and it does so in double (although identical) aspect of surprise and pleasure—the pleasure in surprise and the surprise in pleasure” (Lacan).

The whole joke of jokes, if I might put it that way, lies in the fact that— much to everybody’s surprise—the demand manages to find an unexpected satisfaction. The discrepancy at stake could also be formulated in topological instead of temporal terms: the satisfaction is produced somewhere else than where we expect it or await it. This is why the narrative of a joke does not simply prepare the structural dynamics and temporality of the comical setting for its final point, but also and above all directs and engages our attention elsewhere than where the point of the joke will pass." [The Odd One In On Comedy]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:09 pm

"Heinrich von Kleist in his brilliant essay “On the Gradual Production of Thoughts whilst Speaking.”

In this essay, Kleist points out a dimension best encapsulated by his own paraphrase of the French saying L’appétit vient en mangeant (appetite comes as one eats): L’idée vient en parlant (an idea emerges as one speaks). He thus draws our attention to the fact that when we begin a sentence, we often don’t know exactly how it will end. In this case it is speech itself, with all its automatism (and with all the time-buying mannerisms and exclamations that are so perfect for comic imitation), that pulls the spirit along—the spirit slowly staggers behind the words, until it suddenly comes to life in an idea that has literally emerged with and from speech. Let us quote here one of Kleist’s own great examples, garnished with his commentaries, which wonderfully bring out all the comedy of the
given situation:

I believe many a great speaker to have been ignorant when he opened his mouth of what he was going to say. But the conviction that he would be able to draw all the ideas he needed from the circumstances themselves and from the mental excitement they generated made him bold enough to trust to luck and make a start. I think of the “thunderbolt” with which Mirabeau dismissed the Master of Ceremonies who, after the meeting of the June[ ] —the context is that of the beginning of the French Revolution], the last under the ancien régime, when the King had ordered the estates to disperse, returned to the hall in which they were still assembled and asked them had they heard the King’s command. “Yes,” Mirabeau replied, “we have heard the King’s command.”—I am certain that beginning thus humanely he had not yet though of the bayonets with which he would finish.“Yes,my dear sir,” he repeated,“we have heard it.”—As we see, he is not yet exactly sure what he intends. “But by what right . . .” he continues, and suddenly a source of colossal ideas is opened up to him, “do you give us orders here? We are the representatives of the nation.”—That was what he needed!—“The nation does not take orders. It gives them.”— “And to make myself perfectly plain to you . . .”—And only now does he find words to express how fully his soul has armed itself and stands ready to resist—“tell your king we shall not move from here unless forced to by bayonets.”—Whereupon, well content with himself, he sat down."[Alenca Zupancic, The Odd One In On Comedy]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:53 pm

Satyr wrote:


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.  



More on the other side of this coin, where a comedian has to lower himself to make any serious points at all, is the release of the slave spirit in the Saturnalia,,, where mock inversions by sluts like Primal and Anus carry a ressentimental cruelty... we see this reverse in this age, where everything is slandered by empty mockery, by the impotent and the resentful...  anarchism is the dream of a permanent Carnival, a permanent Saturnalia..


Quote :
" In its classical incarnation in Roman culture, the Saturnalia designated a distinct religious festival held in honor of the mythical Golden Age of Saturn. During the time of the Saturnalia (December 17–19) a special
license to speak their minds freely was accorded to everyone, irrespective of rank. This freedom is normally the only characteristic of the festival that classical poets found sufficiently intriguing to make central to their texts. Other, equally crucial, features of the Saturnalian rites, like the agrarian celebrations linked to the sowing of crops, the ritual exchange of presents, the public banquet that anyone could attend, etc., tend to be entirely ab- sent from Saturnalian texts like the two satires Horace set during the festi- val period.16 Indeed, in one of these, Satire 2.3, Horace views the Saturnalian tumult only as a distraction he must escape, and the poem opens with an account of his having fled Rome during the festival in order to try to find the quiet necessary to compose new verses. But irrespective of how the Saturnalian days were regarded, it was not the rites as such that writers sought to represent but certain specific features, selected because of their inherent literary potential. Foremost among these was, inevitably, the right of slaves to criticize their masters.

As a literary setting, the Saturnalia lends itself particularly well to satiric attacks both on specific individuals and on the larger customs of the age, because criticism can be introduced into the work with a minimum of pref- atory explanation to justify its audacity. By placing these attacks in the mouth of someone without any social standing, like a slave, the satirist can permit himself a degree of acerbity in his observations that might be un- seemly, or even dangerous, if uttered in his own voice. This literary use of the slave as ironist accords with Aristotle’s advice in his Rhetoric: “There are some things which . . . you cannot say about your opponent without seeming abusive or ill-bred. Put such remarks, therefore, into the mouth of some third person.” The universal Saturnalian freedom to speak one’s mind also affords the artist many technical as well as thematic oppor- tunities; it allows him to experiment with mixed tones, expressions, and idioms that would violate the decorum appropriate to most other narrative situations.

Finally, the questioning and rebellious stance permissible in a Saturnalian context also proves particularly fruitful for utopian speculations, with the description of a better society either explicitly narrated or at least unmistakably implied as the direct opposite of an unsatisfactory present. Thus, as Robert C. Elliott rightly argues, Satire, Saturnalia, and Utopia are linked in a clear continuum, but this continuum is determined as much by the formal possibilities inherent in the convention as by the universal long- ing that Elliott posits for a carnivalesque suspension of daily norms.19 Such a distinction is worth emphasizing, because literary historians have been tempted to apply such powerful accounts of the festival’s capacity to abol- ish time and history to the fictional presentations of a carnival as well.20 In works like Le Mythe de l’éternel retour, for instance, Eliade describes the participants in a ritual as experiencing an unmediated contemporaneity with the timeless world of myth. But this abolition of their daily conscious- ness is precisely what characters like Horace’s slave Davus cannot feel, since the threat of the next day’s punishment intrudes even into their hours of Saturnalian liberty. But paradoxically, just because it actually is not liberat- ing for the slave, the Saturnalia becomes all the more freeing for the master- artist, for the poet who can use the carnival setting to probe the most risky issues with a generically assured seemliness. The guaranteed boundaries permit him to ask real questions that he might be afraid to articulate in a context where the stakes were less mediated and revocable.

If Saturn (Saturnus, “the sower,” later identified with the Greek Cronus) introduced agriculture to Rome and founded the citadel on the Capitol, he also castrated his father and ate his children. Saturn was thus linked both with a time of earthly paradise and with a threatening malignancy, a sense that still carried meaning in the Renaissance notion of a “saturnine” temperament, one em- bittered or melancholy as a result of Saturn’s influence. Even in Latin po- etry, the Age of Saturn was not uniformly associated with an epoch of human freedom from labor and class divisions. In the most famous of the Eclogues, for example, Virgil cries out with hope that a child might be born to inaugurate a new Saturnalian era of peace and stability after decades of civil war—“redeunt Saturnia regna”—and in the Aeneid he characterizes the original Golden Age of Saturn as an era marked not by anarchic license but by the people’s natural orderliness and just behavior, maintained through their own free choice rather than under compulsion of the law:

neve ignorate Latinos
Saturni gentem haud vinclo nec legibus aequam, sponte sua veterisque dei se more tenetem.

[Know that our Latins
Come of Saturn’s race, that we are just—
Not by constraint or laws, but by our choice.]

"How can man have pleasure in nonsense? . . . The overthrowing of experience into its opposite, of purposefulness into purposelessness, of necessity into what is wished for, but in such a way that this process causes [us] no harm, but is simply imagined once out of wanton exuberance, delights [mankind] because it liberates us momentarily from the compulsion of necessity, of what is appropri- ate to [quotidian human] purpose and experience in which we ordinarily see our inexorable masters. We play and laugh when the expected (which usually makes us afraid and tense) reveals itself without causing harm. It is the slave’s pleasure at the Saturnalia." [Nietzsche]

Throughout his writings, the word slave served Nietzsche as a synecdoche for a whole range of contemptible moral and intellectual qualities, and in these reflections from Human, All Too Human his scorn for the slave’s joy at the temporary license of the carnival is unmistakable.

But when I return to Rabelais from reading such accounts, his glee in depicting the various torments inflicted on the books’ villains often leaves me considerably more nervous than Bakhtin’s interpretation would suggest possible. Indeed, the energy released by Rabelais’ laughter or by the literary depictions of medieval and Renaissance carnivals (e.g., Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair) has an element of deliberate cruelty, and the complexity of different narratives depends in no small measure on the au- thor’s skill in first arousing, and then assuaging, the nervousness such cru- elty elicits.11 René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred offers a view of the Saturnalia diametrically opposed to the one endorsed by Bakhtin, and al- though I am far from sharing all of Girard’s conclusions, his vision of the “mimetic violence” underlying the carnival’s rites and his description of the revelers’ Dionysus as a “god of homicidal fury” contains a salutary counter- balance to any populist and idealizing optimism."[Bernstein, bitter Carnival]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:24 pm

So... if I read something like this

AEon wrote:
A female can "choose" to have sex whenever she pleases, with whomever she wants, even children, and receive little or no penalty. A male cannot.

... and my first reaction is to think "what the fuck is this idiot talking about, I'll reply *starts typing*"
... then the second reaction is "hold on... this guy is not for real... can't be... this is trolling... haha almost fell for it"
... and what comes out in the end is a post containing only the three letters

LOL

is that fear?
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:45 pm

Yes, you fear the possibility that what I say is true. You don't want to believe it, accept it. You deny it. Laughter is evidence of your denial.

Laughter represents a denial of reality. I mean, objectively. I could be wrong, could be right, but your laughter immediately proves something about your brain, pathology, thoughts, and identity as a person.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Apr 21, 2014 2:13 pm

Have you argued with a drunk?
There is no argument, no logic, nothing that will convince a drunk.
Is my refusal to argue with a drunk out of fear that the drunk might be right?
Or is it the acknowledgment that such argument is an exercise of futility?
Should I argue with every drunk, lest someone thinks I fear them?
Can't I just laugh instead?
Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Apr 21, 2014 3:37 pm

Laugh without reason, without care, without cause...go ahead and try, but you will not fool everyone and may not fool yourself all the time.

You are in a philosophy forum, in a philosophical environment, learn to accept some aspects of this territory that you cannot change. If you believe "no reason" is a valid excuse then you will eventually learn much harsher lessons then the reason behind a laughter, whether it is hearty and full, or nervous and dissonant.

Does your laughter tremble with fear, or boast with confidence
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:50 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:38 pm

Characteristics of Jewish Humour.

Quote :
"In A Glossary of Literary Terms (1981), M. H. Abrams aligns black humor with the theater of the absurd. In the Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms (1976), Harry Shaw defines it as humor which is perverted or morbid, a literary elaboration on our sick joke or on an American brand of gallows humor. In "Anatomy of Black Humor" (1970), scholar Burton Feldman describes it as the American correlative to French existentialism, with a commitment most of all to "detachment." Scholar Ihab Hassan (1971) puts it in an American tradition of the grotesque. John W. Aldridge (1983) places it in an American romantic tradition, one heading "away from the fictional treatment of actual events toward the creation of metaphoric and fabulative impressions of the kind of derangement that may be responsible for these events".

Traditionally, ours has been a literature of accommodation at one extreme and of rebellion at the other. Black humor holds that neither choice is viable any longer, and it is often from the protagonist's failure to recognize this that the comedy originates. We see, even if he doesn't, that choosing is out of the question. If not by an act of God, then at least by an act of cultural fate, he is doomed to live the life he lives — helpless, without alternatives, not better off than he is at the moment.

Such a point of view is virtually un-American. It suggests a spirit more often associated with the European immigrant than with the native, a sense of an America close at hand and yet nevertheless out of reach. And that may be telling. For black humor may owe a greater debt to European influence than we have fully recognized. In fact, a literature we associate with Barth, William Burroughs, Pynchon, James Purdy, a rather WASPish group, really, may owe a significant debt to the fools of Eastern European shtetl tradition, the schlemiel and the schlimazl.

The simplest definition of these terms is probably the best, to begin with. The cliche would have it that the schlemiel is the poor soul who spills his bowl of soup, while the schlimazl is the poor soul he spills it on. That's not a bad distinction. But the matter is slightly more complicated.

The schlemiel is a "loser," I would argue. He's a failure. He was born that way. There is nothing he can do to change this, for he was born without the resources necessary to become more than he already is.

To be a schlimazl, though — that's a different matter. The schlimazl is a combination of strengths and weaknesses. He's just a man, to be sure, but a man with the potential for better.

The schlemiel tries to understand his world using what we quickly recognize are oversimplified beliefs. It's not just that he believes in magic, superstition, and more of the same. Logic, facts, the assimilation of information — such things are virtually beyond him.

Rather than allowing facts to alter his beliefs, the schlemiel interprets events to fit what he already believes. This is just the opposite of what the schlimazl does. Possessing a keener, more rational mind, the schlimazl tries to integrate more information than he should. Try as he might to hold one set of beliefs fixed in his mind, try as he might to maintain one logical superstructure, new information bombards him. He cannot revise quickly enough to keep up with events.

Unlike the schlemiel, the schlimazl takes it all in — that's not his problem. His problem is rather that he doesn't know what to do with the information once he has it. And as a consequence, he is constantly modifying his system of beliefs, trying fruitlessly to find a place for everything, then trying to put everything in its place.

The schlemiel is the butt of the joke. Lacking the skills and resources the society embraces, he becomes the outsider. He is incapable of fitting in, for he is incapable of the sort of accommo- dation the culture demands. But that is not true of the schlimazl. Often he has these skills. Too, he often occupies what might otherwise be a respected position in the community, if only someone else were to occupy it. He learns all the rules, obeys all the laws, lives by all the orders . . . and yet, somehow, for some reason, he never quite prospers. He does all the things the culture says he must do in order to succeed, and fails nevertheless.

The schlemiel doesn't develop very much as a character from beginning to end of the story. He is already who he is going to be at the moment we meet him: a dim-witted fellow, most often, someone without the skills of self-preservation his culture demands, someone ruled more by the heart than by the head. He is also someone more likely to react to situations as they occur than someone who acts on his own behalf. It doesn't really occur to him to try to have his own way with the world.

This last point is particularly significant, for it speaks to why we tend to embrace the fool of shtetl tradition. Without fully recognizing it, the fool stands in opposition to what his culture holds up as a model for manhood. And when we compare him with that model, it is the model, not the schlemiel, that we are most likely to question. We recognize through the process of comparison that the schlemiel is too good for this world — too sweet, too kind, too human to fit in.

This is less true of the schlimazl, though the function he serves in the narrative is closely related. He embraces his culture, accommo- dates it, makes its rules and regulations his own, compromises his

wishes and dreams, bends to accommodate his culture until he finds himself in the shape of a paper clip — and for v/hat? Everything he touches turns to dung. Nothing his culture has taught helps him get what he wants." [Avner Ziv, Characteristics of Jewish Humour]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:39 pm

Quote :
"A nation too young to have an Odyssey or an Iliad or an Aeneid, we have in their place the American cowboy and tales of his exploits and journeys. The cowboy's physical courage, his stoic dignity, his self-sufficiency, his penchant for moving beyond the latest civilized settlement are more the stuff of legend and penny-dreadful novels than of American historical fact. Yet the cowboy occupies a larger place in our mythology than he could ever have occupied as a historical figure. To much of the world he is an icon of this country — for better or worse. He is the physical embodiment of American personhood (a euphemism for American manhood), the corporal reification of our obsession with independence, remaining in control of our own fate, and living by a code of honor having less to do with the letter of the law than with a fiercely independent sense of right and wrong.

Whether it be physical sexual prowess, as in Norman Mailer, the prowess of the seaman, as in Herman Melville, the prowess of the frontiersman, as in James Fenimore Cooper, the prowess of econom- ics, as in F. Scott Fitzgerald, or the prowess to be had through a private codification of American maleness, as in Ernest Hemingway, it is prowess our literature has honored traditionally. Perhaps that has been its single greatest concern. From its very beginnings, ours has been a literature filled with protagonists determined to gain control of a situation, to take charge of their own destinies, to "light out for the territory," as Mark Twain puts it at the end of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and fend for ourselves.

We have not suffered victims gladly in such a tradition. Beginning in this country before print literature itself, the victim has been alternately an enigma and an embarrassment. Or at least we haven't suffered victims until lately, for black humor is just filled with them.

The protagonist called to mind by the phrase black humor is a loser. He's not simply the naif, the picaro figure, a Huck Finn — the outsider. We have always liked to honor outsiders. He's different. He's inept.

Too, he's a weakling. And worse, he's out of control. I don't mean to say merely that he can't gain control of his own fate, though that's often the case as well; I mean rather that he himself is out of control. He's everything the stoic cowboy would despise. Women torment him, bullies kick sand in his face, parents nag him, and in response, he whines, he bitches, he moans.

This new sort of American protagonist is more Eastern than Western, more likely to be city-bound than at home on the range. As portrayed by our black humorists, he's defined by all the things that limit him. He's the embodiment of that great American male fear, impotence. Figuratively, and sometimes literally, he can't get it up.

Overcome by the landscape in which he finds himself, he can't even flee when he wants to. He may try to flee the city, of course; but this won't come to much — we know that. It's one of the great lessons of these novels that all American highways lead back to where they began.

This same sense of circularity is to be found on yet another level. Traditionally in our literature protagonists have followed one of two paths. The first of these has been the most satisfying, but it has also been the most risky: to create a system of values and live true to them, recognizing all the while that to live true to yourself must come at a price.

The second, and often the more practical, path has been to find one's place in the culture, to adopt a role, if you will, one replete with customs and values, and then accommodate that role as well as you can. This is what it has often meant to live one's life as a man: to choose between rebellion, on the one hand, and accommodation on the other. But to choose — that's the thing!

Not now, however; at least not in black humor. What sense is there in making a choice when neither alternative can satisfy? Why choose at all, then? Why light out when there's no territory to light out for?

Black humor denies this greater scheme of things. It envisions neither gods nor devils. It has faith in neither grace nor transgression. Nor, for that matter, does it embrace the shtetl's schlemiel or schlimazl as such.

What we find instead are protagonists midway between these two points on a continuum, as it were, characters embodying the failings of both extremes, moving first toward the right, then back toward the left, forever betwixt and between.

This is a new notion of American manhood, American man as Homo incapacitus, one might say, where man is defined by his incapacities — a notion offering us in place of the fool and his goodness only the sense of man's loss. At one moment rebelling, at another trying to accommodate, at one moment trying to fit the information to a closed set of beliefs, at the next moment furiously trying to rearrange these beliefs to fit the latest information, they are hybrids, one and all classic fools, and then again not: schlemiezels." [Ziv, Characteristics of Jewish Humour]

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"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 Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:43 pm













Quote :
"The humor of Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916) is a unique phenomenon in the history of Jewish culture and a surprising mutation in the evolution of the Jewish spirit. When one takes into account that for many centuries nonreligious literature was viewed as alien by Jews and especially by Ashkenazi Jewry (92 percent of world Jewry in 1939) and that the reading of such literature was considered a sin (bittul Torah), his achievement becomes even more remarkable.

Biblical monotheism discovered God's presence in history and the purpose of human life in ethical behavior. It held the immorality and meaninglessness of human life in paganism up to ridicule and created a context of optimism which fostered confidence and hope.

In the middle of the eighteenth century, two revolutionary movements in Jewish thought prepared the ground for the flowering of Jewish humor a century later. Hasidism or Jewish Pietism, in fostering joy as the proper mood for religious life and worship, criticized the strictness and rigidity of traditional Jewish religion. It viewed the religious leadership and accepted standards of piety with contempt. It could not help but make fun of conventional religious standards and values. The Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment movement, on the other hand, held both the Hasidim and their opponents up to rational scrutiny and found them wanting.

Haskalah gave birth to a relatively large body of satirical writing in Hebrew and Yiddish that sought to wean Jews away from the excesses of religious tradition and the narrowness of isolation and exclusivism.

Sholom Aleichem's appearance on the stage of Jewish history is best understood in terms of particular trends in the Jewish Enlight- enment movement as well as general developments in Russian political and intellectual life in the second half of the nineteenth century. Eastern European Jewish Haskalah was based on the eighteenth-century German-Jewish Haskalah of Moses Mendels- sohn (1729-1786), which had been influenced by rationalism and Deism. Later, romanticism entered modern Jewish thought and contributed to the emergence of the Science of Judaism (Wissenschaft des Judentums) with its historical approach to Jewish studies. What all of this meant was the weakening of the traditional theological rationale for Jewish existence and its replacement with historical and cultural approaches to Jewish survival. Nachman Krochmal (1785-1840) in his philosophical work, Guide for the Modern Perplexed, shifted the center of gravity in Jewish thinking from God to the Jewish people, that is, from theology to history. His disciple, the father of the Haskalah movement in Russia, Isaac Baer Levinsohn (1788-1860), proclaimed that "there is no greater sin than that of the man who causes the disappearance of his nation from the world" (Levinsohn, 1901, p. 84).

Modern Jewish humor is related to the historical experience of the Jewish people. Its primary characteristic, adum- brated in the Psalms and the Prophets, is the ridicule of idolatry and all man-made gods. Other characteristic elements are the love of Torah and learning generally, the consequent opposition to ignor- ance, and a deep sense of justice that refuses to recognize differences between rich and poor. The source of a good deal of Jewish humor is the eternal Jewish complaint voiced frequently by Sholom Aleichem's character Tevye: Where is God and where is justice? For the authen- tic Jew, God, justice, and equality are inseparable (Zeitlin, 1980, p. 178).

The humor of Sholom Aleichem has been characterized as a gracious way to overcome an unpleasant situation in which one finds oneself through no fault of one's own. Without self-respect, purity of the spirit, and wisdom of the heart, no such humor is possible. It soothes the pain of a perplexing or degrading situation with inner spiritual power derived from faith in the dignity of man and in the ultimate victory of justice. Even in the most hopeless of situations, such humor playfully feigns victory in order to emphasize the mean- inglessness, evil, and unnaturalness of our predicament. It protests sarcastically and gives oneself and others the courage to endure (Wiener, 1946, p. 287). To students of literature and philosophy, such humor is familiar as positive or divine laughter and as divine comedy or humor.

Sholom Aleichem's humor is the highest expression of divine comedy. "I wasn't worried about God so much," says Tevye. "I could come to terms with Him one way or another. What bothered me was people. Why should people be so cruel when they could be so kind? Why should human beings bring suffering to one another as well as to themselves, when they could all live together in peace and good will?" (Sholom Aleichem, 1949, p. 160). Sholom Aleichem's laughter is philosophical, creative, affirmative, and healthful. It is provoked primarily by the discrepancy and the distance between what is and what ought to be. It helps to rationally and realistically evaluate the world and encourages improvement. It triumphs over pain and hardship in loyalty to an ideal, and brings happiness, truth, and beauty into a dark world. It inculcates love for the Jewish people and its heritage of history, culture, and religion.

On the day before Yom Kippur, Sholom Aleichem tells us, we would hardly recognize Noah-Wolf the butcher. "He stops fighting with the other butchers, becomes soft as butter toward his customers, is considerate to the servant girls, becomes so unctuous you could almost spread him over a boil." He puts on his holiday garment, goes from house to house, to all his customers and neighbors, to ask for pardon for the sins he may have committed during the past year. "If anything I have said offended you, I want to apologize, and wish you a happy New Year." "The same to you, Noah-Wolf," they respond. "May God pardon us all" (Sholom Aleichem, 1946, p. 321).

Where Dante's Divine Comedy describes Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, Sholom Aleichem describes God's dwelling in the midst of the Jewish people and participating in the daily tragicomedy of their life. Sholom Aleichem's humor opens a window on the enduring values and traditions of the Jewish people. It possesses broad hu- manity and profound faith in man's unconquerable spirit. In trying times, it sweetened the bitterness of a difficult existence. During the Holocaust, it brought comfort to the Jews locked in ghettos and annihilation camps.

The primary characters of Sholom Aleichem's three major works — Tevye the Dairyman, Menahem-Mendl, and Motl, Son of Peysi the Cantor — are variations on the theme of the indefatigable optimism of the Jewish people. Motl's motif is "Hurray for me! I'm an orphan!" Menahem-Mendl refuses to permit his constant failures at earning a livelihood to dissuade him from trying something new. Tevye, like Job of old, refuses to permit adversity to turn him from the path of faith. Unlike Job, however, Tevye is able to transcend tribulation through humor as well as religion. "I say that the main thing is faith," proclaims Tevye. "A Jew must hope. What if we work our- selves to the bone? That's why we're Jews. ... As you know, I'm a great believer. I never have any complaints against the Almighty. Whatever he does is good. As Scripture says, Trust in the Lord' — Put your faith in God and he'll see to it that you lie six feet under, bake bagels and still thank him. ... I say that we have a great God and a good God but nevertheless, I say, I would like a blessing for every time God does something the likes of which should happen to our enemies" (quoted in Trunk, 1944, p. 31).

To withstand and overcome whatever obstacles would thwart its survival, growth, and continuing contribution to the human spirit.

Sholom Aleichem's humor is actually the kind of divine gift and stratagem for personal and national survival that may yet save mankind from itself. The kind of laughter Sholom Aleichem evokes — the laughter of acceptance, friendship, sympathy, and content- ment — is essential to human dignity and sanity. Laughter is, in fact, a tactic for human survival. Sholom Aleichem's laughter is the kind "born out of the pure joy of living, the spontaneous expression of health and energy — the sweet laughter of the child . . . the warm laughter of the kindly soul which heartens the discouraged, gives health to the sick and comfort to the dying" (Boodin, 1934, p. 212). In the Bible, Abraham is willing to sacrifice the beloved son of his old age in order to demonstrate his faith. In a Sholom Aleichem story, the "happiest man" in Kodno is the poor man who risks his life to save his dying son by throwing himself before the carriage of the physician who may be able to save him. "I would have liked to take a picture of him," writes Sholom Aleichem, "to let the whole world see what a really happy man looked like, the happiest man in Kodno" (1949, p. 77).

Joy, the higher pleasure of comedy, can be obtained only from an author in whom we sense joy's opposite, since "the comic dramatist's starting point is misery; the joy at his destination is a superb and thrilling transcendence" (Bentley, 1964, p. 302). Sholom Aleichem concludes his travelogue of the town of Kasrilevka with a description of its two cemeteries — the old and the new. "The new one is old enough and rich enough in graves. Soon there will be no place to put anyone, especially if a pogrom should break out or any of the other misfortunes which befall us in these times." The Kasrilevkites take special pride in the old cemetery both because famous people are buried in it and because it is "the only piece of land of which they are the masters, the only bit of earth they own where a blade of grass can sprout and a tree can grow and the air is fresh and one can breathe freely" (Sholom Aleichem, 1946, p. 6).

Five years before Sholom Aleichem's death, in a letter of consolation to friends mourning the death of a child, he revealed the deepest secret of his humor. "It's an ugly, evil world," he wrote. "I say to you that just to spite the world one must not cry. If you want to know, this is the true source, the real reason for my usually good mood, for my 'humor,' as they call it. Just to spite the world — don't cry! Just to spite the world — only laugh, only laugh!" (Berkowitz, 1966, p. 168). It took many years of pri- vation, hardship, and artistic struggle for Sholom Aleichem to come to that realization. " [Ziv, Characteristics of Jewish Humour]

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"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 Tue May 19, 2015 2:02 pm

Shites for giggles.

Meninghaus wrote:
"Bataille and Bakhtin describe the time of the festival not least of all in terms of lustful excesses involving otherwise disgust-imbued corporeal material and acts. It is consequently no coincidence that both authors place laughter at the center of their social theory. And once again, disgust, more specifically its relation to laughter, is what allows a marking of the difference between the theories. As a universal mode of degradation and exaltation, of foolish license for freedom and unofficial truth, Bakhtin’s carnivalesque laughter does consistently recall the taboo to which it owes its existence. But only Bataille’s laughter is in itself defined as excretion—as an analogon of anal-sadistic-excremental lust and thus as a performative traversing of a disgust taboo:

Bataille wrote:
"Laughter as a spasmodic process of the oral orifice’s sphincter muscles, analogous to that of the sphincter muscles of the anal orifice during defecation, is probably the only satisfying interpretation—in both cases taking account of the primary role in human existence of such spasmodic processes with excretory function. When it comes to outbursts of laughter, we must thus admit that the nervous discharge that could have normally been released by the anus (or by the adjacent sexual organs) is being released by the oral orifice."

For his part, Bakhtin, declares that “shit is the joyful material." From a similar insight, Bataille derives the quasi-identity of excretion and laughter, and with this perhaps his most surprising contribution to the theory of disgust and its overcoming: “The advantage of starting with a provisional characterization of shit in proportion to hilarity results precisely from the adaptation of laughter to this complexity of forms.” [Disgust]


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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Tue May 19, 2015 2:21 pm

Pinker wrote:
"Here is how Koestler introduces the problem of humor:

Koestler wrote:
"What is the survival value of the involuntary, simultaneous contraction of fifteen facial muscles associated with certain noises which are often irre- pressible? Laughter is a reflex, but unique in that it serves no apparent biological purpose; one might call it a luxury reflex. Its only utilitarian function, as far as one can see, is to provide temporary relief from utili- tarian pressures. On the evolutionary level where laughter arises, an ele- ment of frivolity seems to creep into a humourless universe governed by the laws of thermodynamics and the survival of the fittest.

The paradox can be put in a different way. It strikes us as a reasonable arrangement that a sharp light shone into the eye makes the pupil contract, or that a pin stuck into one's foot causes its instant withdrawal—because both the "stimulus" and the "response" are on the same physiological level. But that a complicated mental activity like the read- ing of a page by Thurber should cause a specific motor response on the reflex level is a lopsided phenomenon which has puzzled philosophers since antiquity."

Let's piece together the clues from Koestler's analysis, from more recent ideas of evolutionary psychology, and from actual studies of humor and laughter.

Laughter, Koestler noted, is involuntary noisemaking. As any school- teacher knows, it diverts attention from a speaker and makes it difficult to continue. And laughter is contagious. The psychologist Robert Provine, who has documented the ethology of laughter in humans, found that people laugh thirty times more often when they are with other peo- ple than when they are alone. Even when people laugh alone, they are often imagining they are with others: they are reading others' words, hearing their voices on the radio, or watching them on television. People laugh when they hear laughter; that is why television comedies use laugh tracks to compensate for the absence of a live audience. (The rim shot or drumbeat that punctuated the jokes of vaudeville comedians was a precursor.)

All this suggests two things. First, laughter is noisy not because it releases pent-up psychic energy but so that others may hear it; it is a form of communication. Second, laughter is involuntary for the same reason that other emotional displays are involuntary. The brain broadcasts an honest, unfakable, expensive advertisement of a mental state by transferring control from the computational systems underlying voluntary action to the low-level drivers of the body's physical plant. As with displays of anger, sympathy, shame, and fear, the brain is going to some effort to convince an audience that an internal state is heart-felt rather than a sham.

Laughter appears to have homologues in other primate species. The human ethologist Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt hears the rhythmic noise of laughter in the mobbing call that monkeys give when they gang up to threaten or attack a common enemy. Chimpanzees make a different noise that primatologists describe as laughter. It is a breathy pant made both when exhaling and when inhaling, and it sounds more like sawing wood than like the exhaled ha-ha-ha of human laughter. (There may be other kinds of chimpanzee laughter as well.) Chimps "laugh" when they tickle each other, just as children do. Tickling consists of touching vul- nerable parts of the body during a mock attack. Many primates, and chil- dren in all societies, engage in rough-and-tumble play as practice for fighting. Play fighting poses a dilemma for the fighters: the scuffling should be realistic enough to serve as a useful rehearsal for offense and defense, but each party wants the other to know the attack is a sham so the fight doesn't escalate and do real damage. Chimp laughter and other primate play faces have evolved as a signal that the aggression is, as we say, all in fun. So we have two candidates for precursors to laughter: a signal of collective aggression and a signal of mock aggression. They are not mutually exclusive, and both may shed light on humor in humans.

Humor is often a kind of aggression. Being laughed at is aversive and feels like an attack. Comedy often runs on slapstick and insult, and in less refined settings, including the foraging societies in which we evolved, humor can be overtly sadistic. Children often laugh hysterically when other children hurt themselves or suffer misfortune. Many reports in the literature on humor among foragers are similar. When the anthro- pologist Raymond Hames was living with the Ye'Kwana in the Amazon rainforest, he once smacked his head on the crossbar of the entrance to a hut and crumpled to the ground, bleeding profusely and writhing in pain. The onlookers were doubled over in laughter. Not that we are all that dif- ferent. Executions in England used to be occasions for the whole family to turn out and laugh at the condemned man as he was led to the gallows and hanged.

The horror that Orwell elicits by his pathetic description of the victims' terror shows that cruelty alone is not the trigger for humor. The butt of a joke has to be seen as having some undeserved claim to dig- nity and respect, and the humorous incident must take him down a few pegs. Humor is the enemy of pomp and decorum, especially when they prop up the authority of an adversary or a superior. The most inviting targets of ridicule are teachers, preachers, kings, politicians, military officers, and other members of the high and mighty. (Even the Schadenfreude of the Ye'Kwana feels more familiar when we are told that they are a diminutive people and Hames is a strapping American.)

But oddly enough, humor is also a prized tactic of rhetoric and intel- lectual argument. Wit can be a fearsome rapier in the hands of a skilled polemicist. The perfect quip can give a speaker an instant victory, deserved or not, and leave opponents stam- mering. We often feel that a clever aphorism captures a truth that would require pages to defend in any other way.

And here we get to Koestler's attempt to reverse-engineer humor. Koestler was an early appreciator of cognitive science at a time when behaviorism ruled, and he called attention to the mind's inventory of rule systems, modes of construal, ways of thinking, or frames of reference. Humor, he said, begins with a train of thought in one frame of reference that bumps up against an anomaly: an event or statement that makes no sense in the context of what has come before. The anomaly can be resolved by shifting to a different frame of reference, one in which the event does makes sense. And within that frame, someone's dignity has been downgraded. He calls the shift "bisociation."

Koestler's three ingredients of humor—incongruity, resolution, and indignity—have been verified in many experiments of what makes a joke funny. Slapstick humor runs off the clash between a psychological frame, in which a person is a locus of beliefs and desires, and a physical frame, in which a person is a hunk of matter obeying the laws of physics. Scato- logical humor runs off the clash between the psychological frame and a physiological frame, in which a person is a manufacturer of disgusting substances. Sexual humor also runs off a clash between the psychologi- cal frame and a biological one; this time the person is a mammal with all the instincts and organs necessary for internal fertilization. Verbal humor hinges on a clash between two meanings of one word, the second one unexpected, sensible, and insulting.

The rest of Koestler's theory suffered from two old-fashioned ideas: the hydraulic model of the mind, in which psychic pressure builds up and needs a safety valve, and a drive for aggression, which supplies the pres- sure. To complete the answer to the question "What, if anything, is humor for?" we need three new ideas.
First, dignity, stature, and the other balloons punctured by humor are part of the complex of dominance and status.

Dominance and status benefit those who hold them at the expense of those who don't, so peons always have a motive to mount a challenge to the eminent. In humans, dominance is not just the spoil of victory in fight- ing but a nebulous aura earned by a recognition of effectiveness in any of the arenas in which humans interact: prowess, expertise, intelligence, skill, wisdom, diplomacy, alliances, beauty, or wealth. Many of these claims to stature are partly in the eye of the beholder and would disintegrate if the beholders changed their weightings of the strengths and weaknesses that sum to yield the person's worth. Humor, then, may be an anti-dominance weapon. A challenger calls attention to one of the many less-than-exalted qualities that any mortal, no matter how high and mighty, is saddled with.
Second, dominance is often enforceable one-on-one but impotent before a united mob. A man with a single bullet in his gun can hold a dozen hostages if they have no way to signal a single moment at which to overpower him. No government has the might to control an entire popu- lation, so when events happen quickly and people all lose confidence in a regime's authority at the same time, they can overthrow it. This may be the dynamic that brought laughter—that involuntary, disruptive, and contagious signal—into the service of humor. When scattered titters swell into a chorus of hilarity like a nuclear chain reaction, people are acknowledging that they have all noticed the same infirmity in an exalted target. A lone insulter would have risked the reprisals of the target, but a mob of them, unambiguously in cahoots in recognizing the target's foibles, is safe. Hans Christian Andersen's story of the emperor's new clothes is a nice parable of the subversive power of collective humor. Of course, in everyday life we don't have to overthrow tyrants or to humble kings, but we do have to undermine the pretensions of countless blowhards, blusterers, bullies, gasbags, goody-goodies, holier-than-thous, hotshots, know-it-alls, and prima donnas.

Third, the mind reflexively interprets other people's words and ges- tures by doing whatever it takes to make them sensible and true. If the words are sketchy or incongruous, the mind charitably fills in missing premises or shifts to a new frame of reference in which they make sense. Without this "principle of relevance," language itself would be impossi- ble. The thoughts behind even the simplest sentence are so labyrinthine that if we ever expressed them in full our speech would sound like the convoluted verbiage of a legal document. Say I were to tell you, "Jane heard the jingling ice cream truck. She ran to get her piggy bank from her dresser and started to shake it. Finally some money came out." Though I didn't say it in so many words, you know that Jane is a child (not an eighty-seven-year-old woman), that she shook the piggy bank (not the dresser), that coins (not bills) came out, and that she wanted the money to buy ice cream (not to eat the money, invest it, or bribe the driver to turn off the jingling).

The jester manipulates this mental machinery to get the audience to entertain a proposition—the one that resolves the incongruity—against their will. People appreciate the truth of the disparaging proposition because it was not baldly asserted as a piece of propaganda they might reject but was a conclusion they deduced for themselves. The proposi- tion must possess at least a modicum of warrant or the audience could not have deduced it from other facts and could not have gotten the joke. This explains the feeling that a witty remark may capture a truth that is too complex to articulate, and that it is an effective weapon that forces people, at least for a moment, to agree to things they would otherwise deny.

How do we explain the appeal of the barely humorous banter that incites most of our laughter? If humor is an anti-dominance poison, a dignicide, it need not be used only for harmful purposes. The point of was that when people interact with each other they have to choose from a menu of different social psychologies, each with a different logic. The logic of dominance and status is based on implicit threats and bribes, and it vanishes when the superior can no longer make good on them. The logic of friendship is based on a commitment to mutual unmeasured aid, come what may. People want status and dominance, but they also want friends, because status and dominance can fade but a friend will be there through thick and thin. The two are incompatible, and that raises a signaling problem. Given any two people, one will always be stronger, smarter, wealthier, better-looking, or better connected than the other. The triggers of a dominant-submissive or celebrity-fan relationship are always there, but neither party may want the relationship to go in that direction. By deprecating the qualities that you could have lorded over a friend or that a friend could have lorded over you, you are conveying that the basis of the relationship, as far as you are concerned, is not status or dominance. All the better if the signal is involuntary and hence hard to fake.

If this idea is correct, it would explain the homology between adult human laughter and the response to mock aggression and tickling in children and chimpanzees. The laughter says, It may look like I'm trying to hurt you, but I'm doing something that both of us want. The idea also explains why kidding is a precision instrument for assessing the kind of relationship one has with a person. You don't tease a superior or a stranger, though if one of you floats a trial tease that is well received, you know the ice is breaking and the relationship is shifting toward friend- ship. And if the tease elicits a mirthless chuckle or a freezing silence, you are being told that the grouch has no desire to become your friend (and may even have interpreted the joke as an aggressive challenge). The recurring giggles that envelop good friends are reavowals that the basis of the relationship is still friendship, despite the constant temptations for one party to have the upper hand." [How the Mind Works]

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Tue May 19, 2015 2:53 pm

People laugh for several reasons.

It is mainly a cartharsis.

If something is true, yet socially taboo, they laugh. Why is it funny? They are witnessing repressed truths that are taboo, laughter provides a release, they are released of the burden of sheltering their inner truth. Now they may have social commune now that they know they are not alone in their truth.

There is laughter in tragedy. Why is it funny when someone crosses an empty street, and all of a sudden a car appears, running them over? Because it's nonsensical. They tried their very best, and despite all odds in their favor, could not escape their fate. The inner masochist in us enjoys this torment, because we can relate to it. Therefore, in this instance, laughter is a case of sexual masochism.  

The other type of laughter is laughter that comes from dominance. For example, a standup clown or joker who loud and obnoxious and laughs at everyone around him. He or she does this from a place of superiority, because he knows the people around him will take it.

The other type is nervous laughter, which occurs when one is hurt deeply. Alls one can do is laugh. However this is weak and not humourous kind of laughter.

Lastly there is laughter at the absurd, or what I like to say "weed laughter" or "sleepover" laughter. This is insane hyena laughter where people can't stop laughing at ridiculous things, like stop signs or funny looking trees. It is analogous to the feeling of extreme non-stop crying, only replaced with laughter and lols.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:33 pm

This old article wasn't mentioned here.
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"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 Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:22 pm

Ah yes, female comedy. A form of feminist protest.

Their sexuality is the issue to their lame comedy. Since their whole identities lay in sex, they cannot joke about anything else but sex related preoccupations. It's tedious and redundant. Just like most black comedians can't joke about anything but race.

And the risque slutty apparel, pretty straight forward: degrading their sexuality to uplift their other mysterious "qualities"; defying patriarchal objectivity, etc.

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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Sat Dec 03, 2016 2:42 pm

Quote :
"Prior to the Holocaust, the schlemiel was a “building block” for generations of Jews who lived in the Pale of Settlement (in the 19th century), left for Europe, and landed in America. The schlemiel gave millions of Jews a way to understand themselves and survive the many defeats of history (which included pogroms). It’s humor gave them a sense of dignity when they were powerless.

In her book, The Schlemiel as Modern Hero, Ruth Wisse points out that although the Jews suffered multiple defeats in history they could still turn to the schlemiel who won an “ironic victory.”

The traditional Western protagonist is heroic insofar as he attempts to change reality. The schlemiel becomes hero when real action is impossible and reaction remains the only way a man can define himself. As long as he moves among choices, the schlemiel is derided for his failures to choose wisely. Once the environment is seen as unalterable – and evil – his stance must be accepted as a stand or the possibilities of “heroism” are lost to him altogether.

The schlemiel comically responds to historical disaster. Through word play, plot, and humor in this or that story or novel by Yiddish writers such as Mendel Mocher Sforim or Sholem Aleichem, Jewish readers could, as David Roskies says, “laugh off the traumas of history.

Ezrahi suggests that the basis of this revolt – with respect to the schlemiel – is not simply a rejection of history because it can’t live in it. Rather, it evinces a messianic kind of hope that is implicit in the Jewish tradition: the hope for a better world and return to a world and a history without evil. This wish is at the core of Jewish eschatology and a utopian dream wish for a better world which smashes history.

What’s most interesting is that the audience “colludes” with the schlemiel. And this suggests that we have been very influenced by this belief in a better world so much so that we are willing to go along with this or that lie to save “innocence.”  And, in the wake of disaster, the schlemiel is the vehicle for such collusion. For without this hope and without this lie, there can only be the belief that history wins and that comedy, after Auschwitz, is impossible."

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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 Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:15 pm

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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 Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:42 pm

William Willeford wrote:
"The fool breaks down the boundary between chaos and order, but he also violates our assumption that that boundary was where we thought it was and that it had the character we thought it had."

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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 Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:52 pm

I would posit, that laughter, is more similar to the monkey gene type, as opposed to other gene types. My theory is that, many gene types happenstance on their own, what I mean by this is that we need not evolve from monkeys, in order to have similar genes.

Laughter, is associated with pranking, and is a bit like a dopamine rush or...ahem...orgasm. I would posit that it is primarily a reward mechanism (for accomplishing successful pranking, humor, or absurdity/Ecmandu's "contradictions" theory), but can be retrofitted as a combative defensive mechanism for fear avoidance.
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PostSubject: Re: Humour : The Secret of Laughter Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:59 pm

Yes, it seems that laughter is a primate thing. Something to do with the position of the esophagus in relation to the mouth and lungs.
Laughing at other is part of sympathizing with other.
A product of empathy, or the ability to noetically project self - imagination.

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