Friday, April 13, 2012
Philametajokes: Questions That Make Us Laugh
Why do humans find anything funny? It is perhaps the cosmos's greatest inside joke. Yet, this type of philosophical questioning, when applied to humor, causes us to ask questions (below) that begin to sound either (1) highly intriguing; or (2) completely asinine, depending on your line of thinking.
Does it address the insanity of contemporary life?
Are there subtle truths in the guise of fantasy?
Is it funny?
Is it a true examination of our social and cultural dilemmas?
Is it exposing our innermost inconsistancies?
Does it hold our foibles up to ridicule?
For me, taking these questions seriously is the ultimate philametajoke - jokes about funny questions (a word I just made up right here on the spot).
A philametajoke could refer to several categories, different but related, in which meta is used to describe the fact that the joke explicitly talks about other jokes, a usage similar to the word metadata (data about data), metatheatrics (a play within a play, as in Hamlet) or metafiction (fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction, exposing the fictional illusion).
A philametajoke also refers the type of jokes I like to tell myself - jokes, I consider metahumorously (humor about humor) hilarious! ...though I'll admit there may be a small audience for this type of joking, a subsubset of a subset.
Most humor theories focus on why we find certain things funny, whereas I am awe struck by why we find anything funny at all.
Answering this question with data and humor analysis, is more an analysis of analyzing data than it is an analysis of where and how a sense of humor emerges.
Despite whether our brains are Chevy engines running Maserati software, as Daniel Dennett puts it, we are indeed a species that thinks prodigiously.
We're also a species that likes to ask questions...