Monday, October 29, 2012

Heuristic Humor

You play the tough, paternalistic regulator
and I’ll play the laissez-faire one named ‘Nacho Daddy’.

Heuristic humor studies is a "hands-on" or interactive approach to learning more about what makes people laugh. Understanding what makes people laugh involves specific expectations defined as conscious assimilation of one's fore-humor. To the humorous encounter with a novel, or unexplained phenomenon - be it a joke, a humorous event, or a funny question - we bring our experiences (our historical understanding of what's funny), which cannot be dismissed in the process of interpretation and understanding of what's funny. But that does not mean that we should allow things that aren't funny to be passed off as humorous simply because people laugh. These indefensible assumptions bias our understanding of what makes people laugh naturally. Heuristic humor studies mediates between fresh observation and comprehensive reflection.

From a humorously hermeneutical perspective, to explain a humorous experience, observations and analyses must be grounded in historical investigation. What I want to understand and express in this blog is how individuals define humor and how they set out to experience it. I form my observations about humor based on my reading of the major theories on the subject as well as a myriad of popular images, videos, songs, and literary works in circulation on the web. 

A simple image search for the word "funny" makes me consciously and painfully aware of how humor is often times used to mask the negative feelings associated with loss, which ultimately becomes humorous discourse for those who have experienced it.  However, I prefer to focus on the present, becoming more functional in what the world considers funny now without betraying my own sense of humor (and integrity supporting it). 

Such observations point to me a connection between humor and personal identity, vis-à-vis evolvement. In this respect, humor can either undermine or support our personal identity. To make sense of this humorous paradox, I resort to sociological and philosophical accounts, concentrating on the significant shifts, from an understanding of humor as a character flaw to an activity that promotes healing and emotional or behavioral adjustment. 

To define what is not humorous also requires an understanding of what counts as "normal" humor: the quality of being amusing or the ability to make people laugh.

But it is so much more. From a methodological standpoint, my interest in humor is to entertain myself whilst simultaneously generating defensible assumptions that will allow me to proceed with an analysis of humor that is convincing (or at least, humorously intriguing) and theoretically sound. My contribution lies in entertaining others along the way and in showing how existing views of humor can be amended and functionally integrated into a developing model that allows me to define humor in dynamic terms, as a process, rather than a core or a feature. 

It's not a bug; it's a feature.

Admittedly, my "soft" (Sophy "softly" laughing) modus operandi is more sympathetic to a relativist approach. This distinction polarizes my humor toward the positive expression of humor, often trying to define humor in accordance with an immutable personal trait. 

My sense of humor is embedded in social and cultural contexts with no hardened core independent of an interpretive process focused on the aforementioned goals (enjoying myself whilst simultaneously entertaining others). I strive to avoid the pitfalls of seriousness and negativity, refusing to participate in the downing of self by associating my humor with negative traits or features. 

This blog is an evolving interpretation of my own journey into humor... and how humor helps me grapple with solitude in the hearts of so many. Humorous discourse allows me to rewrite stories into tales with funny twists or nonsensical references that confirm one simple fact: laughter is a language we all speak. 

No comments: