Saturday, March 12, 2016

Humor is Love

I googled (forgive me other search engines) "love humor" and these are some of the images I found on the first page of my browser's search results ... 

You might think this is a post about love. Then again, you might think this is a post about humor, with love as its subject. You might think this post is an aphorism for how we show our love for the world. If this is what you think, you're right! 

Aren't the words 
"you're right" 

I think so. 

You might think this post is lackadaisical. I actually had to google that word to see how to spell it. Into Google's search bar I typed the word "laxadasical". 

I don't know about you, but given how I spelled that word, I'm thinking I have a lazy brain and a peculiar way of enunciating myself. 

Whoops! Sorry ... I got distracted. My mom just texted me this gif. 
Back to what I was saying. 

Humor is love. 

Yes, I know how simple that sounds. 
And kind of cliché. 
And waaaayyyyyy overused, the word "love". 
But it's true. 
I think. 

There is love EVERYWHERE on the Internet. There is falling in love, falling out of love, falling in love with someone other than the person you're supposed to stay in love with, there is love thyself, love thy neighbor, love pizza, love bacon, love an anthropologist, love SOPH, love, love, love ... 

Most of this love business sounds sappy, especially when you're not the one making the declaration. If you're the one waiting for a declaration, it sounds pretty nice. If you're praying someone won't say these words to you, you're probably looking for the closest YouTube. 

But the kind of love that makes us genuinely happy, playful, and a bit giddy is the kind of love that makes us laugh. Whether you like high brow, low brow, laugh at life, laugh in the moment, slapstick, or ironic humor, the moment something makes you laugh, you probably feel pretty darn good inside. 

I looked for "love" in Antonio Damasio's book The Feeling of What Happens
I didn't find it. 

In retrospect I'm wondering why I went to Damasio for this subject; after all, he totally dissed my man Descartes. Not cool, Antonio, not cool. 

Moving onto that crazy, sexy scientist, Steven Pinker. 

He wrote about love. On love and death he began, (pg. 406) How the Mind Works

Like kin selection, reciprocal altruism has been contemned as painting, even condoning, a bleak picture of human motives. Is sympathy nothing but a cheap way to buy gratitude? Is niceness just a business tactic? Not at all. Go ahead and think the worst about sham emotions. But the reason the real ones are felt is not that they are hoped to help the feeler; it is that they are in fact helped [by] the feeler's ancestors. And it's not just that you shouldn't visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children; the fathers may never have been iniquitous to begin with. The first mutants who felt sympathy and gratitude may have prospered not by their own calculation but because the feelings made it worth their neighbors' while to cooperate with them. The emotions themselves may have been kind and heartfelt in every generation; indeed, once sham-emotion-detectors evolved, they would be most effective when they are kind and heartfelt. Of course, the genes are metaphorically selfish in endowing people with beneficent emotions, but who cares about the moral worth of deoxyribonucleic acid? 

Actually, that bit didn't have anything to do with love. He was actually referencing Woody Allen's Love and Death

On Love, Pinker wrote, 

The mind is never so wonderfully concentrated as when it turns to love, and there must be intricate calculations that carry out the peculiar logic of attraction, infatuation, courtship, coyness, surrender, commitment, malaise, philandering, jealousy, desertion, and heartbreak. And in the end, as my grandmother used to say, every pot finds a cover; most people - including, significantly, all of our ancestors - manage to pair up long enough to produce viable children. Imagine how many lines of programming it would take to duplicate that! 
He goes on to say,

The spouse of one identical twin feels no romantic attraction toward the other twin. Love locks our feelings in to another person as that person, not as a kind of person, no matter how narrow the kind. 

That's just it!

We love a person, 
not a type of person. 

Just like we like different types of jokes. Like love, humor is joke specific. There are categories we like more than others, and in some cases, dislike immensely. Both are highly subjective. 

Henri Bergson wrote, in Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic 

The first point to which attention should be called is that the comic does not exist outside the pale of what is strictly HUMAN. A landscape may be beautiful, charming and sublime, or insignificant and ugly; it will never be laughable. You may laugh at an animal, but only because you have detected in it some human attitude or expression. You may laugh at a hat, but what you are making fun of, in this case, is not the piece of felt or straw, but the shape that men have given it, --the human caprice whose mould it has assumed. It is strange that so important a fact, and such a simple one too, has not attracted to a greater degree the attention of philosophers. Several have defined man as "an animal which laughs." They might equally well have defined him as an animal which is laughed at; for if any other animal, or some lifeless object, produces the same effect, it is always because of some resemblance to man, of the stamp he gives it or the use he puts it to.  

How true is that...

It is highly tantalizing, to go back to Bergson and literally reread the first point, on the first page, in the first chapter after having written articles that (for me) were beautiful, charming and sublime; and others that were a bit off-the-wall, totally incoherent, or meaningless --making me wonder more about the innerworkings of my own mind and whether or not I can detect and then harness for personal gain (and the gain of others) something therein, or whether or not such an enterprise is worthy of the task given all the things one has to do in the course of a day and how few hours we have to get it all done. 

If I am alone in that thought, then I am an island. If I am not alone, then it's time to get over my self-indulgent intellectual proclivities and get back to work. 

If you're anything like me, you thought the squirrels were cute, but they didn't make you laugh. Calling Prince Charming an idiot made me laugh. Thinking I'd have to rescue him made me laugh. Thinking it is not nice to laugh at others made me move onto the next image, which in my case made me smile, 'cause I'm not colorsighted. But it didn't make me laugh. We already talked about the squirrel. 

Really in love evoked within me a deeper laugh, a biting recognition that obsession is miserable, whether you've felt it or created it in another, the only good that comes of this is felt in that heightened moment; but it's PRECISELY those moments that drive us onward in search of the next insanely intense moment when we feel most alive inside. This is why one good joke isn't enough. We are insatiable beings. We need fuel. We want to explode with laughter, feel ignited by love, laugh until we spill milk out of our noses. 

Admit it, you thought I was going to post a pic of someone shooting milk out of their nose.

That's all I had to say, really --that humor is love. 

Love is not always humorous. For that matter, it is not always kind, reciprocated, or long-lasting. And humor is not always about love: falling in it or losing it to your best friend. 

The desire to make someone laugh, to make someone feel good, to share a smile of mind; a giddy moment, one of those moments when you literally fall to the floor, holding your gut, to the point you think you're not going to be able to breathe if you don't stop laughing moments --these are the moments when we utilize humor to express the love we feel inside ourselves, in a way that is audience appropriate. 

We cannot have intimate relationships with everyone. There's simply not enough time, and some people frown upon this practice. 

But we can make others laugh. We can share a kind word, but you know what Steven said, there's a whole lot of subconscious neurological stuff going on when we do ... so, if you want to avoid having your intentions misconstrued, just declare humor as your soul mate. 

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