Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Barking Marxists Don't You Know the Gagster Laughs at You?

For Koestler, "all creative activities have a basic pattern in common," such that "certain basic principles operate throughout the whole organic hierarchy," all the way "from the fertilized egg" to the fertile egghead, AKA the creative individual.

Now, as it so happens, my doctoral dissertation was on just this subject, i.e., the patterns that permeate nature, from matter to mind. The Raccoon is born searching for the damn key to the world enigma, i.e., the "unity in the diverse manifestations of human thought and emotion."

Now, this is already funny, because humor, as we shall see, always involves an unforeseen clash of two frames of reference. We will return to this idea shortly.

If not now. Take the last sentence of paragraph one. I won't say that the conjunction of "fertilized egg" and "fertile egghead" is LOL funny, but it is mildly amusing. Why? Because we have the surprising conjunction of biology and human intelligence via the dual meanings of "fertile" and "egg."

And it's even funnier if it hits you that the fertile egghead is and must be ontologically prior to the fertile egg, which reveals how humor is woven into the very fabric of being. You might say that in the absence of verticality -- i.e., different planes of being -- humor would be strictly impossible, since there could be no clash of planes. An old lizard finds nothing amusing, Larry King to the contrary notwithstanding.

In short, in a horizontal world, nothing is funny. And that's a threat! One can't imagine ISIS members, or USSR commissars, or sensitivity trainers, or liberal activists, chuckling at the irony or absurdity of their beliefs. When the higher is dragged down to the lower -- or the lower subsumed into the higher -- laughter is no more.

Which, as we shall see, goes to the Incarnation, or let's just say incarnation, i.e., bodies-in-souls. Oddly enough, you can't laugh without a body, right? Laughter is a physical release. Why physical? What is the body doing when it laughs? After all, bodies don't get jokes. The mind gets the joke, but then somehow shares it with the body, which discharges the guffaw.

The same thing happens with crying: the mind is sad, the body releases. One can imagine this having some sort of Darwinian utility, some marginal survival value, but not so with humor.

In any event, both activities involve a clash of frames of reference. The awful or tragic or traumatic represent a sudden or violent intrusion of one reality into another. Humor can involve almost the same thing, but provokes a very different reaction.

For example, my son was watching the Three Stooges movie the other day, and there's a funny scene were a church bell lands on a nun. The Stooges aren't sure who it is, but her face -- of course -- rings a bell.

And even prior to that, the whole idea of the Stooges growing up in a Catholic orphanage sets the stage for an extreme clash of frames of reference, with piety at one end, slapstick at the other. True, it's lazy humor, but it hits the spot for a nine year-old.

Koestler suggests that "all patterns of creative activity are tri-valent," in that they may "enter the service of humour, discovery, or art." This largely depends upon the "emotional climate," as in the joyfully violent climate of the Three Stooges.

More generally -- referring to the triptych below -- the climate "changes by gradual transitions from aggressive to neutral to sympathetic and identificatory," or from the "absurd through an abstract to a tragic or lyric view of existence":

Remember, the lefthand column belongs to the jester (or wise guy), the center the sage (or wise man), and the right the artist. For example, if Newton were viewing the clip below, he might see evidence of the first Law of Motion. An artist might see a tragic misunderstanding, or perhaps an ironic statement about the dangers of religion:

A Raccoon notices that that's Larry David in a nun's costume, the very idea of which is a laugh, albeit on the cheap.

But just as there are cheap laughs, there must be cheap discoveries and cheap works of art. You will have noticed that this cheapness permeates the low-rent worldview of the typical MENSA atheist. They love nothing more than a cheap laugh at the expense of religion, oblivious to the howls of derision coming from above. But again, since the atheist lives in a horizontal world, he knows nothing of that deeper mine of comedy gold.

You could almost say that the scientistic atheist/materialist engages in a form of reverse punning, whereby bi- or tri-valent terms are reduced to their most concrete expression. It reminds me of the old joke:

Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: That's not funny!

In other words, the flatlander refuses to participate in the joyful world of multivalent meaning, and cuts you off at the pass if not knees. You don't want to know where Muslims cut you off.

Say, how many atheists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Hmm. I would say none, since they prefer to curse the darkness.

So: in reality, i.e., here and now, "there are no frontiers where the realm of science ends and that of art begins..." Nor is there any place where the humor begins and ends, or in other words, Creativity is alphåmega.

To be continued...


Blogger julie said...

One can't imagine ISIS members, or USSR commissars, or sensitivity trainers, or liberal activists, chuckling at the irony or absurdity of their beliefs.

Goodness, no. If anything, even the merest hint that something about their beliefs might be absurd is enough to send them flying into a spittle-flecked rage. Which of course is pretty much hilarious to anyone on the outside, and gives rise to many chuckle-worthy memes.

9/03/2014 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Tommy said...

I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

9/03/2014 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Whenever I look at the chart, I keep seeing "comic simile" as "cosmic smile."

9/03/2014 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oddly enough, you can't laugh without a body, right?

I wonder about that. I am quite certain that the cosmos does chuckle somehow, and finds us all deeply amusing...

9/03/2014 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

To me, there is nothing more attractive in a woman than the smile when she laughs. It reveals her true beauty.

9/03/2014 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi EbonyRaptor,
I cooncur. Well, with the exception of flatlander wymyn like Hillary or Pelosi.
Their smiles and laughs look as demented as their souls.

But when real ladies smile or laugh it reflects the beauty of their souls fully since they ain't hindered by whoreizontal boundaries.

9/03/2014 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

True, it's lazy humor, but it hits the spot for a nine year-old.

Over five decades later, and I'm still laughing.

9/03/2014 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

the flatlander refuses to participate in the joyful world of multivalent meaning

Hence George Lakoff's constant hectoring that the Left "control the language" and dominate the sphere of metaphor. It's worked to a ruinous degree, but now the world is a humorless street fight rather than a jolly old mess. If I were childless, I'd pity the world more than I'd be angry about it. But nope, I have kids who will live in our humorless leftist nightmare, so at this point, I'm mostly pissed.

I caught my wife looking at me from inside her car with genuine merriment in her eyes, and I fell in love with her all over again. You dang women.

9/03/2014 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...


I love the Stooges. I'm near 50 myself and can no longer determine whether they're silly or profound, and what's more, I don't feel the need to answer that question. They're both. The silly, in the right frame, can also be rich in love, humility, and pathos. When I watch the Stooges, I laugh at them, at myself, then at us all. I know that women tend not to "get" them, not to like them, and to shake their heads at boys who laugh and imitate them. It means a lot to me when my wife sees us boys watching the Stooges, smiles wryly to herself, and then makes us all sandwiches. I could never be married to a woman who watches the Stooges and then gets seriously uptight about the violence, etc. It's like she's hanging a sign that says "humorless bitch" on herself. I my experience, the mom who was most ok with the Stooges was a Lutheran in Wisconsin. I'd bet that the women who have the biggest problem with the Stooges are the same ones running Title IX "rape epidemic" prosecution and re-education programs at American universities.

9/03/2014 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I remember that picture of Pelosi walking with John Lewis, carrying the gavel, and laughing because they had passed Obamacare.

Power is funny, and absolute power is hilarious.

9/03/2014 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I'd like to drop the Liberty Bell on her empty head.

9/03/2014 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

For whom the bell tolls...

9/03/2014 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

The bells! The Bells!

9/03/2014 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Detective Clouseau said...

That ees my line you minkey!

9/03/2014 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Quasimodo said...

No, it's mine!

9/03/2014 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous nightfly said...

Julie - a sense of humor is a sign of spiritual health, of course. As Chesterton observed, it's the healthy man who whistles to himself, jests, idles, and uses what store of imagination he has. Sick people, he writes, aren't healthy enough to do anything other than obsess over their symptoms.

USS Ben - naturally, those with very little true inner beauty are only revealing the empty crater where it used to be when they laugh. It is quite pitiable.

"The Stooges aren't sure who it is, but her face -- of course -- rings a bell."

I believe that nun was a dead ringer for her brother...

9/03/2014 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Magister,
That's a very insightful observation about wives. Patti loved the Three Stooges and so does our daughters.
They would rather watch the Stooges and Looney Tunes than any of the more modern cartoons or garbage like Captain Planet or Barney.

9/03/2014 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Nightfly - I'm not sure where your most recent comment went, but it was lovely and I am in total agreement.

9/03/2014 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Christina M said...

Yay! We like the Stooges a lot. One son has a poster of them in his room. We have almost everything they made. The ones about Hitler are genius. "You Natzy Spy!" und "I'll Never Heil Again!"

9/03/2014 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Flatlander wymmyn aren't smiling, they're revealing their fangs.

9/04/2014 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

First joke my dad told me, that I took the pains to remember, was about a shepherd who was told to play music to his unhappy sheep. However, they ended up more despondent and refused to eat. Upon further investigation, he was advised that "There Will Never Be Another You" was not a good song choice for the flock.

Now that I write the joke out, I see that it has the same, if not longer, hang-time for the pun reveal.

9/04/2014 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - that did take me an extra second :)

9/04/2014 06:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Nightfly's missing comment said...

Ebony - The most amazing sound I've ever heard in my life is my toddler son squealing and giggling when we play. And, as often happens in paradox, I can't think about it without tearing up a little at how blessed my wife and I are to have him.

I can imagine the joy of God is so much more than this, that I would come apart at the seams. Here we see through a glass, darkly, because we would be blinded and scalded by the direct sun.

9/04/2014 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

From back in 2006, bouncing off one of Gagdad's posts about how people often seem to succumb to their language, rather than mastering it, I had a More Ahh... ha-ha-....Aha! experience:

"...It dawned on me recently, that laughter is probably closely related to the Aha! effect, with a slightly different flavor. It too, is the sudden integration of two or more unlooked for data relations in a way that is seemingly contrary to logic and/or custom… until you receive that integrating bit of data in the punch line. Varying the degree that the items are normally thought to be unrelated, the unexpectedness, the suddenness, and the number of integrations made by the punch line, corresponds to the intensity of the laughter. It’s interesting (and painfully tedious!) to watch children learning to express a sense of humor. They do seem to get that the key to humor, is putting together things that don’t normally belong, but it takes a seemingly long while for them to realize that the punchline needs to make it look like the items are related, though unexpectedly.

What parent hasn’t had to endure a 5-7 year olds attempts at writing Knock-Knock Jokes(“Knock-knock! Who’s there? Petunia, Petunia who? Petunia scrambled eggs!AH-HA-HA-HAA!” it takes SO long for the child to progress to (“Knock-knock! Who’s there? Orange, Orange who? Knock-knock! Who’s there? Orange, Orange who? Orange-ya glad I didn’t say Knock-Knock again?! AH-HA-HA-HAA!” and finally you can honestly chuckle along with them). It’s a process of integrating seemingly unrelated data in a way that provides a pleasant, unlooked for surprise at their being linked together....

Like the hang-time on Joan's Dad's pun, when it finally clicks into place that what seemed not to go together, does, it not only Clicks, but Tickles.

9/04/2014 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...


Great to hear about Patti. You know, the interesting thing about the Stooges is that it's tempting to over-intellectualize them, whatever the intellectual direction. But if you do that, you're missing the point, and missing the humor. Some things are just funny, and that's all there is to it. If you don't recognize that, in some way you're too much in your head and missing the point. There has to be what Bob calls "slack" somewhere in the equation, or you get the Stooges reduced in some way to some idea or scheme. Anyway, the good gals, what does the Bible say? "rarer than rubies." We should always sing their praises at the city gate.

9/04/2014 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye, those that attempt to deconsruct the Three Stooges or any great comedians just don't get it.
And the scriptures are right, a good wife is priceless.

9/04/2014 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous nigthfly said...

Julie, thanks for the kind words... and thanks to the anonymous raccoon for reposting my missing comment.

9/05/2014 09:07:00 AM  

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