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...