Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Island of Humor

A humorous attitude unleashes the independence of our mental kingdom, the world of dreams and imagination, composing an imaginary life where we are free to become ourselves. Humor incentivizes our spirit to express the smile in our soul and heart. It isn't an ideal world, but it sure is a funny one! 

L'Enseigne de Gersaint, 1720
This painting by Watteau symbolically depicts the portrait of Louis XIV being stored away, and with that all the dead glory of the age of Louis XIVth. (At the peak of Louis XIV's reign as an absolute monarch, he expelled all Italian comedians from France.)

To reach the Island of Humor one must make a pilgrimage to an enchanted island where gaity hovers above the seriousness of life. In this Ile of enchantment, gentle obstinacy in pursuit of success, leisured activities, indolent diligence, ambition to gather, in life and in heart reins supreme. Anywhere out of this world requires colossal effort to rejoice for this other world is filled with senseless infliction whereby souls mingle in what is commonly referred to as "reality". 

L'embarquement pour Cythere, 1718
This painting by Watteau stems from the psychic need for transcendence; a longing for the pastoral paradise of Arcadia.)

The fears inherent in loss and rejection do not exist in the Island of Humor for this enchantment of the imagination delights in its joyous landscape. Enlivened by laughter, music and dancing, people derive pleasure instead of selfish pain from the natural human relationships they have with one another. 

Peace has conquered this land. It is full of the light-hearted happiness, songs, and dances of that turn the world into a festival to Pan beneath the softest and purest skies of the land. 

Outside this enchanted island, we are ambushed by facts and preoccupied with youthful beauty. We lose the magnificence of all it and search for new. We are blinded to the contours of natural features and label them imperfections instead of wonders. The movements outside are limited by the fixated emphasis that is placed on an ever-changing specificity. An elusive specificity that limits the multitude and grandness of all the encountered features, those gentle flowing, effortless rhythms that abide in accordance with the laws of nature. 

Outside the Island of Humor, fact contemplates love. 
Inside the Island of Humor, dreams share in the awakening.

Conversion galante dans un parc. L'amoureux couronné, 1755.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (Wallace Collection, London).

To name, to define, to analyze, to believe something is to take away three-quarters of the enjoyment of it. Outside the Island of Humor, everything is known by name. If it is unnamed, it is only because it is undiscovered. Inside the Island of Humor, the nonchalance and the smile of the mind have little need for absolutes. Here, the mind creates the joy that emerges from imagining the rêveries. 

Lost in one's thoughts, a daydream emerges. A dreamy, musing state where fanciful ideas and theories delight rather than elicit criticism and disdain. The stories we tell ourselves and our children can enchant us, can place us under the spell of possibility and potential. 

Marquise Du Parc sur un cheval d'Espagne, représente le Printemps.

Outside the Island of Humor, we are bewitched, transfixed, and hypnotized by a thought. Inside the enchanted island, we are captivated, charmed, and delighted by thought, itself. Seen from a distance, the Island of Humor appears foolish. From this tainted vantage point, the jestful actions on the island belong to buffoonery. The gentilhomme that harmonizes and celebrates all existence is overlooked and deemed simple and ignorant. Why would smiling evoke such irrational thought? 

Because we don't know who we are or where we're headed. We aim to hold onto something - anything, really - that defines and casts the burden from us onto our definition. It is not a world of unity, it is a world of self-preservation until you find this elusive Island of Humor, the magical place that can only be found within. 

Le sieur Du Parc sur un éléphant, représente l'Eté.

If you can make yourself laugh, you can lift yourself to a higher level of vital feeling and enjoyment. You can integrate the good with the bad and become a harmonizer of social contracts. Without the sanctuary of the Island of Humor, men are transported back to the court of the Valois, where men had to make a great effort to adjust themselves to feminine refinement and sensibility, a tradition upheld in the Salon bleu of Arthénice, by Madame de Rambouillet and by the Précieuses

Life and interactions are harsh outside the warmth of this rococo-like ambience. Decorations and fashions are fleeting, but here the softness of living in the period is not only accepted, it is enjoyed, explored, transformed, and enjoyed again. 

Le sieur de la Thorillière sur un chameau, représente l"Automne

The Island of Humor triumphs in ceremony, rituals courtships sweeten the experience of living. An ever-present ear in an attitude of polite listening and ethical value is lent. Its ambience is that of laughter that emerges from refined gestures. All the vanities, vagrancies, and scheming strategies are exaggerated by playful ridicule and rendered transparent. Irrespective of the serious obstacles that are overcome - such as death - the transformations make little difference in light of the vastness of the unknown. Thus, they are integrated into the fun. 

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