Thursday, December 10, 2009

Laughing Matter


...Shakespeare had one of his characters say All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players...which would indicate, by dramaturgical standards of the day...reaching back to festivals of Apollo in ancient Greece, when theatre first emerged from religious ritual...that life is either comedy or tragedy...

...Bob Dylan, some time later, wrote there are many here among us, who feel that life is but a joke...which would appear to indicate wide support for the comedy thesis...though how you take that might depend on your definition of the word joke...seriously...

...someone I knew well seemed to view life...or at least his own life...as something like a Greek tragedy....little to do but keep up a noble bearing, marching on toward a preordained doom with moral uprightness and dignity...knowing that even therapy and religious faith can only do so much to cure the inevitable tragic flaw....and that a joke is something inherently trivial, and often inappropriate...as life is no laughing matter...

...Ken Kesey might have said always star in your own movie...which could present a few more options in terms of genre....I’ve tended at times to see life as a dark comedy...like Heathers* or Dr. Strangelove...since, when tragedy seems to be attacking from all sides, tempting one to curl up into a ball and pretend not to exist, laughter can smell an awful lot like victory**...

Laughing at our mistakes lengthens our life. Laughing at someone else's shortens it.
Cullen Hightower

...Shakespeare also wrote a play called Henry IV...then a sequel and a prequel to cash in on the popularity of one of its characters...that’s not a joke, by the way...let’s face it: Shakespeare was no more aesthetically pure than George Lucas or Mick Jagger...or whoever created those brilliant Mentos commercials...and you have to decide for yourself whether I’m joking about the brilliance of Mentos commercials.....anyway, the character, Falstaff, makes no claims to purity, either...he's a drunken, amoral buffoon...though he often speaks truths that could only be uttered on stage safely by a fool....anyway, at one point...I think it's in the sequel...he responds to mockery with I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men...takes it as a compliment, that is...and there might be something to be learned from that...

For life is quite absurd, and death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow...
Eric Idle

...ultimately, it’s all there...the tragedy, the comedy, the tragicomedy, and everything else...but allowing for improvisation, and not at all bound by classical unities or conventional plotting....and, like any poem, wide open to interpretation....

...maybe it all comes down to matter...we are matter...and things matter...and yet we laugh...making us, essentially, laughing matter....these are the jokes, folks...



* just googled Heathers...turns out Winona Ryder says a sequel’s in the works....I hope that’s a joke...

** yes, that was a darkly comic reference to Apocalypse Now and the smell of napalm...

12 comments:

Lydia said...

I thought the victory comment sounded somewhat familiar. On this particular day I wonder about a sequel to Dr. Strangelove...something about a peace prize being collected by another guy cautioning us about the evil that exists in the world and just how just it is to just do it...

Jay, when are you going to consider wrapping all these posts up and finding an agent who will help get them published (and volumes 2,3,4 later)?

Karin Bartimole said...

what comedy is it that my word verification is "trite"? I can't even think of anything to say now, knowing that's what my words will surely be!
thank you for your humor, your observations that often make me both smile and wince! love it all Dr Jay.

DESPERADO said...

this whole world look like one big sham to me.

lilasvb said...

i like to stp on your page, so funny
for sur it does matter
push myself to laugh more

the walking man said...

Live it like you have it says I because when it's gone you have no life left to live round here.

Eco Yogini said...

or you could interpret the entire situation as "joie de vivre". The Fool (being the tarot geek that I am) can signify openness, beginnings and joy....

which perhaps was what you were saying? lol....

ps- yes if you are ever up in Halifax parts, let me know and I will share the "moonshine".

Kim said...

At some point, even our tragedies become laughing matters.

Brooks Hall said...

I think that The Fool in the Tarot is not foolish in the asinine sense. The Fool just doesn't know and isn't held back by the terrors of past experience. The Fool isn't afraid to step into something new because he or she is untainted by worldly drudgery and disappointment. It takes discipline and courage to remain a Fool after years of difficult experience. And I agree that it takes humor--it is indeed a "laughing matter" I like that: as matter we need to laugh.

roseanne said...

what, a sequel to 'heathers'?!? i had to google that myself, and apparently it just might be a joke. thank god. some things are better left in the mythology of my adolescence.

http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/07/02/the-universe-doesnt-hate-us-no-heathers-sequel/

DaisyDeadhead said...

Have you ever seen the movie MEMENTO? (If not, you'd love it.)

I get the Fool card on a regular basis! :P

Lana Gramlich said...

As Capt. Picard (ST:NG,) said; "Sometimes, Number One, you just have to bow to the absurd."

It's A Yoga Thang said...

Laughing, I am a fan of it. I am also a fan of a good cry now and then to keep my eyes clean. A life should have it all.