Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do I Look Like My Dog?

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource, states that "there are only a few philosophers currently focused on humor-related research, which is most likely due to two factors: the problems in the field have proved incredibly difficult, inviting repeated failures, and the subject is erroneously dismissed as an insignificant concern." 

You'd think an intelligent person would know when and how to choose their battles, namely, leaving this one alone; but it's irresistible! The same human mind that insists upon studying humor is fettered to the point of sheer exasperation, and that emotional roller-coaster needs humor as an emotional outlet. It's like cotton candy at an amusement park. 

99% of what kills us never happens - except, of course, for an untimely death induced by an overdose of cotton candy.

When the endless fears we imagine fail to happen, we release that tension with a laugh. One of the most commonly shared genes - the ability to laugh - though of uncertain origin, is most comical when you realize how little we understand about the theory of humor. 

It's almost as if we can't philosophically define humor without the advent of laughter. Even if laughter emanates from another origin, they're like an old married couple that eventually end up looking like one another - or a person and their pet, if you know what I mean? 

While humor and laughter may stem from different origins, they often meet after the delivery of a punch line. However, laughter can also occur as a psycho-physiological release of tension at the sight of a 'near-miss' - like when you step out to cross the street and your friend, best friend now if they weren't before, pulls you back by your collar as a car goes whisking by, nearly plowing you down. Whew!   Instant nervous laugh. 

An American spilling hot coffee down the front of their pants in a Paris Starbucks. 

A Muslim girl adorning her hijab with gold studded Prada sunglasses. 

A Doberman Pincher in a pink diaper. 

Rousseau playing cards with his dog. 

Tragedy, near misses, and incongruities - all make us laugh. Maybe humor has more to do with our ability, if not need, to balance out the neurosis of depression, anxiety, insecurities, and obsessive behavior than it has to do with whether something is inherently funny. There's something about this cognitive shift, this tension release mechanism, that seems to produce an adrenaline-like laughter transmitter. For all I know, the theory of humor may be nothing more than a biological phenomenon. Whereas the study of laughter, stripped naked of its disguise by the hand of a curious artist, might yield unspeakable vocal patterns, commonly called - laughter. 

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