Friday, September 05, 2014

The Ultimate Situation Comedy: The Bisection of Time and Eternity

A good aphorism is a kind of joke, isn't it? If so, no one is funnier than Don Colacho.

And if brevity is the soul of wit, then an aphorism is its very essence. Most of brother Colacho's bon mots would easily fit into the space of a tweet. Which means, when you think about it, that if you are very skilled, you can squeeze eternity into 140 characters with room to spare.


"We call origins the limits of science."

In reality, the Origin not only has nothing to do with science, but can have nothing to do with it. It is a category error, but easy to make if one pretends that science is the only category. So the aphorism embodies a clash of matrices, as science comes up against the impenetrable wall of metaphysics (recall the figures in yesterday's post, with the two planes of meaning).

"We do not pretend to be correct. We are content with intelligent error."

Here again, at least as it pertains to the world, man is essentially condemned to intelligent error -- with one conceivable exception: divine revelation. But scientism is the ideology that pretends to be (or that it is possible to be) comprehensively true, for which reason it beclowns itself in unintelligent error.

By the way, "intelligent error" is nothing to be devalued or scoffed at. Man's errors are only possible because truth exists -- just as an optical illusion is only possible because of visual reality. You might say that our margin of error is simply the distance between man and God. This margin can never be absolutely foreclosed, but it can certainly be healed -- or treated, anyway -- with a lifeline from God.

And guess what? "Intelligence knows no barriers, but it has stairs." That's right -- there exists a circular -- or spiroid -- staircase that resembles a strand of DNA. Nor is it just hanging there from the sky, unattached to anything. How would that even be possible?

For which reason, if you really think about it, the "ultimate joke" would have to be the bisection of time by eternity, right?

Furthermore, this makes man the last word in wit, because what is man but a temporal peepwhole on eternity? You could say that man is a particularly witty response "to the challenges of the environment" (Koestler) -- which, since we're getting pretty far afield here, is on every page of Finnegans Wake.

The bad news: Hahahaha, Mister Funn, you're going to be fined again! The good news: Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you're going to be Mister Finnagain! Life takes place between the fines and the fun.

But "Ideologies were invented so that men who do not think can give opinions" (Dávila). It is fair to say that ideology is the Full Employment Policy for the iron triangle of journalism, academia, and government. Imagine those fields without it! Yeah, I know I'm a dreamer, but I can't be the only one.

Seriously, what would most blacks major in if it weren't for ideology? The higher dysfunction of liberal ideology takes any number of forms: sociology, social work, African-American history, critical legal theory, education, mass media, "family and consumer science," whatever.

Black college graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed because they are twice as likely to major in worthless or made up ideological subjects -- made up, of course, for their benefit. Thanks, white liberals! You gave us the degree, now why don't you hire us?

Not gonna happen. But liberals will do this for you: use the state to force a third party to pay you more than you're worth for working at McDonalds. Deal?

Alternatively, we can grow the state and then use it to hand out jobs to the unemployable, which is what they do here in California. California is running out of other people's money because those other people with money are running out of the state.

Speaking of which, "Political activity is the pretext with which the intelligence avoids its debts." Even more daringly, "The left ekes out a living dodging genetics."

Which is getting increasingly difficult to do when even some of their own are starting to embrace science.

Interesting, because what if the satan of inequality is a consequence of their god of diversity? What on earth would the left do if genetics were true?

Actually, I think they're already doing it.

Following up with yesterday's post on cognitive matrices, "All coherent thinking is equivalent to playing a game according to a set of rules" (Koestler). Thus, comedy requires rules, otherwise there can be no clash of matrices, i.e., of two matrices with different rules.

Here is an example of a violent clash of matrices, in this case, Al Sharpton with the English language:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Choose the Happy Pill and Escape the Matrix

It's odd enough that life should suddenly arise in a lifeless universe, but what about laughter? "On the evolutionary level where laughter arises," notes Koestler, "an element of frivolity seems to creep into a humorless universe governed by the laws of thermodynamics and the survival of the fittest."

Which leads to the question: is humor essential to man's nature, or an accident? Put conversely, is an intelligent being without this thing called "humor" conceivable? If Koestler is correct, it would appear not, since it is so bound up with the logic and structure of scientific discovery and artistic creation, and certainly the latter two are essential to man. But is humor just an unintended side effect of those -- a mere spandrel?

If so, the spandrel must have arisen quite early, being that it is so woven into the nervous system. As Koestler writes, "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 (italics his). This makes me think of the Law of Inverse analogy, whereby the highest is reflected in the lowest -- as in how, in the reflection of a tree at the far end of a lake, the top will appear closest to us.

The following visual aid depicts the "structure" of humor:

That little explosion at the center is where the two planes (M1 and M2) unexpectedly meet. It is the guffaw, but it is closely related to the aha! moment (or eureka effect) of scientific discovery, and to the guffah-HA! experience of spiritual awakening. The latter two might look more like this:

The squiggly line on the horizontal plane represents what we call wandering in the bewilderness or blundering in the wonderness while remaining open to the Answer. In a way it is the crookward path of Faith, since it is a kind of implicit foreknowledge of an as yet undiscovered reality. And yet, we "know" it's there somewhere, otherwise we wouldn't be wandering around like that.

Now that I think about it, it's the same with humor. Let's say I'm looking for material for one of my devastatingly clever tweets. Sometimes you look at a news story and know that there's no point trying, because you'll never wring any humor out it. Other times you just know the joke is buried in there somewhere. Which is why I am so envious of Iowahawk, because his comedic genius is able to mine humor from situations where I would have closed up shop and said "nothing funny in there."

Like, here's one related to Biden's bizarre rant about the Obama administration following terrorists "to the gates of hell." The rant was sufficiently funny that most would be content to let it speak for itself, like an America's Funniest Home Videos contestant. But Iowahawk says: AND ONCE YOU ARRIVE IN HELL YOU WILL BE READ YOUR RIGHTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH MIRANDA VS ARIZONA AND PROMPTLY GIVEN COUNSEL! It's funny because the overblown rhetoric is suddenly bisected and deflated by the reality of our testosterone-deprived administration.

(My offering: Biden: "We will follow our enemies to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice." No shit. Leave the Tea Party alone!)

But you should probably just insert your own examples, because trying to explain humor gets tedious pretty quickly, and besides, I only do it as a kind of verticalisthenic exercise to try to find a link between distant planes -- you know, like a paranoid psychotic.

About those planes: they may be thought of as "frames of reference," "associative contexts," "types of logic," "codes of behavior," or "universes of discourse." Koestler settles on the term "matrices of thought" -- and right away something tells me this term has comedic potential because of its evocation of The Matrix. Koestler defines a matrix as "any ability, habit, or skill, any pattern of ordered behavior governed by a 'code' or fixed rules."

Think about Neo when he's not just living in A matrix but THE Matrix. You might say that the punchline occurs when he takes the red pill. Or, prior to that, Morpheus essentially asks Neo if he would like to get the joke, which the pill facilitates. One is reminded of how psychedelic drugs may cause a similar awakening to new frames of reference.

For us, the left is indeed living in the Matrix, and now that I think about it, most of our jokes at their expense have to do with this. I will use my own tweets because they are close at hand, not because they are Iowahawk level:

--Obama is on to something: we can defeat ISIS if only we organize the Muslim world, or in other words, get them to cease being Muslim.

--White House attempting to authenticate beheading video before committing to golf game.

--Bush: hit those with links to terror before the threat becomes imminent. Obama: respond to imminent threats of terror by hitting the links.

Each one starts in the left's matrix and suddenly skewers it with a shiv to the ribcage.

Yes, comedy, it seems, is intrinsically aggressive, but we're out of time this morning. To be continued...

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...

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Is God Laughing At Us or With Us?

Does the Creator have a sense of humor? I don't see how one can avoid the conclusion, or humor would be deprived of its sufficient reason. It certainly has no Darwinian utility.

According to Koestler, there are exactly 29 references to humor -- or at least laughter -- in the Hebrew Bible. Interestingly, only two are "born out of a joyful and merry heart," while thirteen "are linked with scorn, derision, mocking, or contempt" -- with the sarcastic ha ha of Nelson Muntz.

However, I think we need to widen out our definition of humor, because much of what is humorous resides in the Human -- in Homo hoho -- not in the text or the situation per se. Funny things are everywhere, but it takes a funnyman to notice them -- to bring out the implicit connection that tickles the funny bone.

I've been reading Koestler's The Act of Creation, which regards humor as the equal of scientific discovery and artistic creation. You might say that each of these three quintessentially human activities has the identical deep structure.

Many people have noticed, for example, that the theory of anthropocentric global warming is a joke. Problem is, it is a bad joke, because instead of seeing an implicit connection between two frames of reference -- in this case, weather and human activity -- it just makes one up. So the humor is forced, like the severely cramped and restricted humor that is permitted in a politically correct world.

Or sometimes the PC world forbids seeing the real comedic connection, therefore barring certain subjects from ridicule for the purpose of sustaining power. This article, for example, explains why comedians have somehow failed to exploit the comedic goldmine that is Obama:

'We learn this from Jim Downey, the longtime Saturday Night Live specialist in political japery. "If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, ‘Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10,’” the writer says in the expanded new edition of the “SNL” oral history book, “Live from New York.”

'“It’s like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled,” Downey says. “There’s not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature."'

Okay. Least funny president ever:

"The charter Choom Ganger, confessed eater of dog and snorter of coke. The doofus who thinks the language spoken by Austrians is 'Austrian,' that you pronounce the p in 'corpsman' and that ATMs are the reason why job growth is sluggish. The egomaniac who gave the queen of England an iPod loaded with his own speeches and said he was better at everything than the people who work for him. The empty suit with so little real-world knowledge that he referred to his brief stint working for an ordinary profit-seeking company as time 'behind enemy lines.' The phony who tells everyone he’s from Chicago, though he didn’t live there until his 20s, and lets you know that he’s talking to people he believes to be stupid by droppin’ his g’s. The world-saving Kal-El from a distant solar system who told us he’d heal the planet and cause the oceans to stop rising. The guy who shared a middle name with one of the most hated dictators on earth."

And that just touches the surface: his Lovely Wife. The Mom Jeans. The intellectual and physical laziness. The pomposity. The corruption. The backwoods liberal insularity. The straw man arguments. The compulsive lying. The thin skin. The media sycophancy. The fascination with celebrity trash. The never ending campaign. The absurdly positive Pravda-esque pronouncements on the economy. The blaming of government as if he's not in charge of it. Not only is Obama an ass, he is a perfect ass.

Anyway, Koestler's book is the only one I know of that gives humor its proper due, and treats it with the metacosmic seriousness it deserves (which itself is kind of funny). In the subsequent week or so, I hope to not only plunder the book for all it's worth, but extend his arguments into some hitherto unexplored corners of cosmic merriment -- or in other words, illuminate the divine sense of humor, which Raccoons know subjectively as the guffah-HA! experience.

In many ways, the latter is what defines us, which is why a Raccoon has merely to read the blog's masthead to know in his bones that he's come to the right place -- that he has found a spiritual home, or at least a halfway decent flophouse.

But today I have only time enough to play a fundation. Let's see how far we can take the joke in our remaining moments.

The frontispiece of the book has a helpful cosmic cartography that looks like this:

What does it mean? How to interpret the pleasure map? First, it reads from left to right; or maybe from the center, with left and right hands. Basically, the left column belongs to the Jester, the center the Sage, and the right the Artist. The center sage has to do with truth, while the right has to do with beauty. With what does the left have to do?

Koestler doesn't exactly say, as he leaves a lot to the imagination. Getting awkwardly personal for a moment, there are a couple of things I might say. There is no post in which I do not attempt to convey truth, beauty, and humor. The latter is especially difficult to judge, since I can't hear the joyous peals of laughter from my precious lambs.

Koestler points out that the person crafting the joke doesn't have the same physical reaction as the one who hears it. How then does one detect the humor? "The person who invents the joke or comic idea seldom laughs in the process." In fact, it just occurred to me that some things are so funny that they are beyond funny. For example, I might react to a Perfect Tweet by Iowahawk not with laughter, but with an envious THAT'S FUCKING BRILLIANT!

However, the converse might occur with a particularly earth-shattering scientific discovery: it might literally provoke laughter, a spontaneous physical release upon perceiving the hitherto hidden connection. So right there we see that jokes can be serious while science can be a hoot.

And not only. I have also noticed that certain aesthetic experiences -- i.e., exposure to beauty -- may provoke laughter. In my case it often occurs with music. I might hear something that provokes a broad smile accompanied a spontaneous confession that this is ridiculous! In fact, it occurred last Sunday morning while listening to some gospel music. Here was one of the tunes:

The same song in a different style also made me grin:

So don't tell me God doesn't laugh.