Monday, September 08, 2014

Humorous Discoveries and Important Jokes

Sometimes I feel a little self-conscious about our freevangelical pundamentalism -- about being a practicing jehovial witticist -- but Koestler assures us that while the idea "that the Jester should be brother to the Sage may sound like blasphemy, yet our language reflects the close relationship."

In a footnote he elaborates on that etymological relationship, suggesting that "wit" is ultimately related to videre and to the Sanskrit veda, which is knowledge, big time -- you know, not just any knowledge, but the ultimate metacosmic gag.

Well, first of all, that's Too Good to Check. But it makes me think that maybe the jester is really the geister, the purveyor of spirit.

Speaking of spirits, you are being lied to about the benefits of grog. Fact is, we need to face some cold hard truths about drinking, no matter how pleasant they are: reduced mortality, cognitive benefits, fewer heart attacks and strokes, etc. Nor should you take any chances, because too little is worse than too much.

Could the pathologies of Islam be related to the misuse of alcohol? After all, their prophet, sage, and geister -- actually, this is Allah talkin'-- sezeth: O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, and [divination] are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. So avoid them in order that you may be successful.

That's a pretty stark contradistnc... conradidest... counterdis... difference: either beer exists because, as Ben Franklin said, God loves us and wants us to be happy; or because Satan despises us and wants us to be miserable and unsuccessful.

Granted, wise use of alcohol is predicated upon a level of personal autonomy and responsibility that may be absent, or even actively suppressed, in Islam.

But wouldn't it be better for those crazy adolescent jihadis to blow off a little steam by getting bombed at a kegger instead of blowing off limbs with a bomb from Qatar?

Koestler writes of "a continuous series" that stretches "from the pun through the play of words to the play of ideas." This is one thing I try to impart to my son when he sees me reading (or writing): I'm not reading, I'm playing. And that's not beer, it's medicine.

Not to devalue the latter, but "Reading is the unsurpassable drug, because more than just the mediocrity of our lives, it allows us to escape the mediocrity of our souls."

Yes, "True reading is an escape. The other type is an occupation." Nor does a book "educate someone who reads it to become educated"(Dávila). Which is one way the secret protects itself from the eager clutches of the tenured.

So, it seems that "getting the joke" is very much related to "solving the problem." I suppose you could say that a joke is an infra-discovery, just as a discovery is an ultra-joke.

One difference, according to Koestler, is that the joke generally involves a collision of matrices, wheres a discovery will result from their fusion. Thus, a really important discovery will involve a "permanent fusion of matrices of thought previously believed to be incompatible."

In contrast, the really, really important joke...

That was a joke!

Or maybe not. Could there be such a thing as an important joke? No, Joe Biden doesn't count.

The first thing that occurs to me is how, in the Soviet Union, it was only possible to discuss certain important truths in the form of generally mordant humor, e.g., "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."

And now that I'm thinking about it, the same would be true of certain vital truths that are not to be discussed or even noticed under a logophobic regime of political correctness.

Note also that "the history of science abounds with examples of discoveries greeted with howls of laughter," only later to be confirmed. You know, they all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round, just as they snickered at Marconi that wireless was a phony. Same with Whitney and his gin, Fulton and his boat, and Hershey and his bar. But who's got the last laugh now?

With no global warming for 17 years, I'm not sure we can wring any more humor out of that joke.

This post was interrupted by a commute to school so the wife could sleep in. I've told her in the past that every time this happens, it sets back the progress of cosmic theology 24 hours, but she just rolls her eyes. I guess she's heard that joke too many times.


julie said...

Speaking of the benefits of booze, it seems to me this is one of the big differences between alcohol and pot, and part of the reason the one has been widely accepted in spite of its dangers while the other is only now being legalized in spite of all its supposed benefits. Or come to think of it, perhaps because of most of its advocates, very few of whom seem to be better off as a result of their substance of choice.

Gagdad Bob said...

Manboobs are reason enough to steer clear.

Joan of Argghh! said...

You're onto something, Bob. If firewater ruined the will of the American Indian, rum has placated the misery of the Cubans, and Vodka the Russians, then your kegger idea for the ME has merit. It's cheaper and quicker than trying to retrain them to love liberty or consumerism. There's only so much bread and so many goats to go around for the 99% of ME. Somebody had better make 'em happy and soon.

mushroom said...

Nor does a book "educate someone who reads it to become educated"(Dávila).

So true. I always read history for fun, and I usually knew it better than the teachers.

mushroom said...

I didn't have a drinking problem. I had a quitting problem. But I am glad I did drink otherwise I would probably have ended up like my tight-ass, abstemious older brother who had to have a bypass well before the age I am now.

You can't have beer or bacon, but you can bang goats. Point me to the suicide vests.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"That's not beer it's medicine."

I'll be glad when they finally remove these gallstones so I can take my medicine.
If I get a stroke before They remove them I winmtwqs. ))6:&$@ jvvtjkjbmkrewc

Rick said...

Why just the other day Father Stephen said:

"God hides the truth behind and beneath the Scriptures in order to reveal it to you. But that revelation requires that you be changed. We are not saved by information, but by transformation – and that is His point."