Sunday, September 23, 2012
Time Traveling Court Jester
Time Circus, Inc. takes travelers back in time to cheer up our serious-minded predecessors. Believing that even the slightest change in the past can alter the future in momentous ways, travelers are instructed to use extreme humor with notorious criminals of the past. For instance, they are encouraged to use benevolent humor to redirect otherwise borderline personalities toward more humorous, creative, or artistic pursuits; they are only permitted to tickle a historical "bad guy" or "gal" when they are about to commit historically heinous crimes so that they laugh instead of lash out irrationally; and they are required to stay in a good mood (in particular during the Dark Ages). Needless to say, things get funny.
Time travel tales such as Laughing's raise intriguing issues concerning the nature of time and humor. For one thing, what is it to travel back through time and make someone laugh instead of commit a crime? To answer this, one needs to first ponder the classic question, "What makes us laugh? On the one hand, laughter can arise from tickling, nervous physiological responses to negative stimuli, AND joy and happiness. On the other, the age-old question of what makes us laugh at any given time in history has no easy answer given humour research wasn't a cornerstone of scientific inquiry for thousands of years in the history of humanity.
One might wonder if humorous time travel is really possible. Indeed, humor researchers recently held a "humorous time travel party," announcing the event in virtual blogs to attract humorous jesters from the future. And while a raging costume party was had, their low tech humorous experiment in time travel discovery unfortunately failed to reveal any genuine humorous time travel - except for one very interesting approach.
One humorous time traveling jester decided to travel within the confines of his own mind to heal past emotional hurts with redirected humorous coping cues. These redirected humorous coping cues led to a reexamination of said emotionally-traumatic events in which the humorous time traveling jester had something "funny" instead to remember. Within days of the experiment, the humorous time traveling jester reported back to the group that he felt "lighter" and "more at ease" with himself, indicating that more research in the field of humorous-time traveling-psychoanalysis is warranted.
This experience led to the creating of Time Circus, Inc., the humorous time traveling jester program.
Not everyone believes that humorous time travel is compatible with the laws of physics, anchoring their arguments on the "Grandfather Didn't Have A Sense of Humor On Account of His Getting Squashed Paradox", for example:
"Suppose that Richard constructs a humorous time traveling machine, and that he goes into the past to make his grandfather (when he was a boy) laugh. Unfortunately, Richard's humorous time traveling instruments were so accurate that the machine landed right on his grandfather, and he unwittingly squashes him. Now, Richard's father hasn't been conceived yet, so it seems that since his grandfather did not survive the squashing in order to father his own father, he would not have existed to unwittingly invented a humorous time machine to squash him."
On the other hand, some humorous time traveling researchers do believe that humorous time travel is compatible with the laws of physics, anchoring their arguments on the "It Just Didn't Happen Paradox", for example:
"Suppose that Richard constructs a humorous time traveling machine, and that he goes into the past to make his grandfather (when he was a boy) laugh. Fortunately, Richard's sense of humor was so funny that his grandfather developed an interest in humor, leading to his raising a humorous son, who fathered a humorous child, i.e., Richard, explaining his interest in building a humorous time traveling machine to begin with."
Other humorous time traveling researchers have attempted to respond to the Grandfather Didn't Have A Sense of Humor On Account of His Getting Squashed Paradox employing the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics to attempt to dissolve the less than funny paradox. They argue that Richard actually goes into a parallel universe where he does not, in fact, squash his grandfather. Instead, he squashes his counterpart in the parallel universe where his humorous time traveling machine has not been invented.
Finally, a few humorous time traveling researchers consider the issue of miracles. Would radically advanced technologies, such as humorous time travel, be, from our vantage point at least, miracles? After all, consider the history of humanity... Think for a moment about how the world might be different if we could just go back in time and make the people who caused humanity the greatest grief laugh, instead?