The Psychology of Laughter This ebook edition has been proofed and corrected for errors and compiled to be read with without errors ContentsPrefaceLaughterArt Religion and Child GamesThe LudicrousLaughter and NoveltyRidicule
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Title: The Psychology of Laughter
Author: Boris Sidis
This ebook edition has been proofed and corrected for errors and compiled to be read with without errors ContentsPrefaceLaughterArt, Religion, and Child GamesThe LudicrousLaughter and NoveltyRidicule and Social DecadenceDeviations and the LudicrousRidicule and the SubconsciousThe Ludicrous and Reserve EnergyFreedom and LaughterThe Ludicrous and the InferiorVanity and thThis ebook edition has been proofed and corrected for errors and compiled to be read with without errors ContentsPrefaceLaughterArt, Religion, and Child GamesThe LudicrousLaughter and NoveltyRidicule and Social DecadenceDeviations and the LudicrousRidicule and the SubconsciousThe Ludicrous and Reserve EnergyFreedom and LaughterThe Ludicrous and the InferiorVanity and the Principles of RidiculeThe Comic in LiteratureAmerican RidiculeRidicule, Malice, and the HumaneThe Mechanical and the StupidHoly Writs and the SagesIgnorance and the LudicrousSuggestion and the ComicThe Ludicrous and the Law of SuggestionWit and RidiculeThe Sluggish and the LudicrousRiddle, Dissociation, and SurpriseThe Groundwork of the ComicMimicryLogic and RidiculeNonsense and RidiculeHumor and the Infinite An excerpt from the beginning of the PREFACE An inquiry into the main psychological principles that underlie laughter and its various manifestations presents a number of difficulties There is a wide range of the ludicrous, beginning with the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose, the coarse sallies of the clown, the zany, the cartoonist, the mimic, and the joker, and ending with the classical productions of Aristophanes, Lucian, Juvenal, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Moli re, Voltaire, Gogol, Thackeray and Dickens The great Russian writer, Gogol, in his famous work Dead Souls, lays special stress on the fact that a whole abyss separates the productions of elevated laughter from the contortions of the buffoon and the clown No doubt Gogol is right there is an abyss between the crude art of the buffoon and the pearl of creative art produced by the genius of comedy Still the abyss can be bridged over May we not similarly say that a whole abyss separates the crude idols of the stone age from the beautiful statues of a Phidias The two extremes are, nevertheless, connected by a long series of intermediate steps The abyss, however, as Gogol points out, is present The difficulty is to bridge over the extremes and find the fundamental principles that underlie the almost infinite diversity of the manifestations of the ludicrous Another difficulty lies in the fact that very little satisfactory and systematic work has been done in the domain of the psychology of laughter and the ludicrous Theories have been advanced since the time of Aristotle, but they have been fragmentary and abstract Extensive and important as the domain of the ludicrous is in the life of mankind, the scientific investigator devotes but little time and space to this side of human activity This may be partly due to the fact that the comic is regarded as superficial and trivial, or as dealing at best with the commonplace of life, possibly below the dignity of the scientific inquirer Even a man like Bergson excludes comedy from the high sphere of art He tells us that the nature of comedy is opposed to tragedy, drama, and other forms of art According to Bergson, the sole object of true art is the individual not so comedy, which deals with the general, the typical Art deals with individual things as they really are while comedy, like life, is concerned with general characters, with types Comedy is prosaic In other words, comedy does not belong to the sphere of art In spite of his remarkable acumen, Bergson is entirely wrong in his generalization Both tragedy and comedy deal with types Moreover, according to Bergson, we should have to exclude from the domain of art the comedies of Aristophanes, Cervantes Don Quixote, Moli re s dramatic works, Shakespeare s comic dramas, the humorous works of Dickens, Thackeray and Gogol This will not do We must agree with Gogol that the great artist or poet in his creations of laughter and the ludicrous may produce and has produced pearls of creation, even if such pearls have been cast away on contemporary readers One cannot help agreeing with the apparently paradoxical statement of Plato in his Symposium that tragedy and comedy are intimately related, that the great dramatic poet can wield with equal force the incidents and types of tragedy and comedy This is well exemplified in the dramatic works of Shakespeare The extreme and fallacious view held by Bergson well illustrates the confused and chaotic state of the subject of the ludicrous.