Thursday, March 15, 2007


At the New York Times, John Tierney follows up on his article about the sources of laughter. This quote from Schopenhauer is some of the most turgid prose I have ever had waylay me.

“The origin of the ludicrous is always the paradoxical, and thus unexpected, subsumption of an object under a concept that is in other respects heterogeneous to it. Accordingly, the phenomenon of laughter always signifies the sudden apprehension of an incongruity between such a concept and the real object thought through it, and hence between what is abstract and what is perceptive.”

Translation: laughter requires surprise. Simply stated, and quite false. Why do we laugh at jokes we have heard before, and at Monty Python episodes which we have already seen?

Ignore the rest of the article- the best part is this joke

A blind man enters a department store, picks up his dog by its tail and begins swinging it over his head. A clerk hurries over and says, “Can I help you, sir?”
“No, thanks,” the man replies, “I’m just looking around.”

John Tierney is a strange man. He did not find the Muffin joke funny, and he does not find this one funny either.

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