Author Topic: Humor in Horror  (Read 1131 times)

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Kaspar Hauser

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Humor in Horror
« on: October 24, 2020, 10:09:51 pm »
I do not want to burn out my rekindled enthusiasm for mathematics, so I wish to continue enjoying these types of papers accessible at academia DOT edu.  The Creature is quite moody, sometimes even restless, as though I were the protagonist in a weird existential novel ... and I know there are so many others in the grip of this self-same predicament.

Invoking existential crises ... A Weird Man in a Weirder World ... Where might the humor be hiding on this horrific path to the things in themselves? 

Found one:  Humor in Horror. A study of selected short stories by Thomas Ligotti by Damian Zdanowicz    48 pages
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

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Kaspar Hauser

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2020, 12:01:56 pm »
From the paper linked to above:

Quote from: Damian Zdanowicz
The link between his relative unpopularity as a writer and the unpopularity of ideas he believes in is voiced by Martin Cardin, who stated that ideas contained in Ligotti’s work “will be enough to ensure that his readership remains small even if he one day achieves canonical status” (Calia 2015).

His writing, from which one quickly learns not to expect any kind of happy endings, seems to be addressed to a particular kind of reader. Namely to a reader who is willing to admit that being alive is not a positive thing and in the end, nothing is going to be all right. And for such a reader, perhaps paradoxically, reading Ligotti might be a consoling experience, despite or maybe thanks to the pessimistic nature of the author’s books and short stories. After all, one cannot underestimate how much comfort confirmation of his or her unpopular, pessimistic worldview can bring to a person. In other words, much of Ligotti’s writing is in a way comforting for people who are already disturbed.

There is already at least a trace of irony here, although, as Schopenhauer mentions, humor and irony are two different "concepts."  Similar beasts, but irony is not humor.  Schopenhauer defined humor simply as "seriousness concealed behind a joke," and irony as a kind of inverse of humor, where one is "supposedly serious, but really joking."

George Carlin was dead serious.  There was great seriousness concealed behind his funny faces, grimaces, and raised eyebrows.  I get that.  I am not sure if the paradox of being consoled by validation of one's gloomy outlook on life qualifies as humor.  I know this is a paradox, or at least I am fairly certain it is.   There is what may be called an incongruity.  Why might a pessimistic worldview disturb the peaceful while bringing consolation to the disturbed?   Is it incongruity or paradox?  Is paradox an element of incongruity?

While not finished reading through Humor in Horror. A study of selected short stories by Thomas Ligotti, I have been doing a little more research along the way.

From Humour and incongruity by John Lippitt (11 pages):

Quote from: John Lippitt
This first piece will examine the 'incongruity' tradition; it will offer a critical analysis of attempts made to argue that the nature of humour is to be explained in terms of incongruity.  By far the most commonly discussed comments in this tradition are those of Arthur Schopenhauer, and we will turn to these shortly.

The cause of laughter in every case is simply the sudden perception of the incongruity between a concept and the real objects which have been thought through it in some relation, and laughter itself is just the expression of this incongruity.

Isn't it ironic that some of us are consoled by the validation of our gut-level intuition that, in the end, nothing is going to be alright?   No?  It is a paradox.  Paradox is not humor.  Paradox is not irony.   

Please, readers of this post, feel free to explore and analyze the papers linked to.  I only leave small excerpts here.  I am in no way trying to make some major breakthroughs, nor am I trying to present myself as a quack who thinks he will turn the world upside down or inside out.   

I feel my very existence is an incongruity-in-itself!

Quote from: John Lippitt
What is 'incongruity'?

Schopenhauer's own claim for his theory is bold; he describes it as 'the true theory of the ludicrous'.  Indeed, the notion of humour as being dependent upon incongruity has been very influential in humour theory, and the term crops up regularly in contemporary discussions of the subject. But an important challenge facing any incongruity theorist is the necessity of defining more clearly what is meant by 'incongruity'; and many researchers who use the term fail to do so. The Oxford English Dictionary gives such definitions as: 'disagreement in character or qualities; want of accordance or harmony; discrepancy, inconsistency... want of accordance with what is reasonable or fitting; unsuitableness, inappropriateness, absurdity ... want of harmony of parts or elements; want of self-consistency; incoherence'.  A previous commentator, Marie Collins Swabey, agrees that theorists in this tradition have meant something corresponding to just about all of these terms: 'sometimes the notion that things are incongruous emphasizes chiefly that they are markedly dissimilar or in contrast to one another; sometimes that they are inappropriate or unsuited to their situation;again that there is a lack of relevance between them; again that there is a clear-cut incompatibility or inconsistency between them (as indicating that they are mutually exclusive, without necessarily mutually exhausting all possibilities).  And lastly, incongruity may plainly mean contradictory: that two propositions, properties, or states of affairs are opposites in the full sense, so that the denial, absence or falsity of one of them is equivalent to the affirmation, presence, or truth of the other, since between them they exhaust the range of possible alternatives.   Some examples might aid clarification here.

Swabey distinguishes between 'logical' incongruities,' which appeal strongly to our sense of rational form', and 'factual' incongruities,' which appeal more obviously to our sense of incompatibilities in their matter'.  'Logical' incongruities involve the violation of logical laws. For instance, this schoolboy howler: 'Abraham Lincoln was a great Kentuckian. He was born in a log cabin, which he built with his own hands'.

Or the story of the man who returned a borrowed kettle with a hole in it. He denied responsibility on three grounds: firstly, he had not borrowed the kettle, secondly it already had a hole in it when he borrowed it, and finally, he had returned it without a hole.  Humour based upon 'factual incongruities' is more common. Major classes here include what could be brought under the heading of 'ambiguity', and what has been called general 'inappropriateness'.   Doubles entendres serve as examples of ambiguity, as do jokes in which the literal meaning is taken of a phrase meant as a figure of speech. (For instance, Steven Wright's one-liner: 'I woke up one morning and my girlfriend asked me if I slept good. I said, "No, I made a few mistakes" '.)

'Inappropriateness' is a blanket term used by D.H. Monro to cover 'the linking of disparates... the collision of different mental  spheres ... the obtrusion into one context of what belongs in another'.   Many examples could be brought under such a heading; 'the obtrusion into one context of what belongs in another' is quite a neat summary of Schopenhauer's central idea. For instance, take a cartoon in which a bug exterminator explains his technique to a client: Their first reaction is one of fright and hysteria. Then a strange apathy seems to seize them and they lose all will to live'. Here, the attitude of the psychologist has been imported into the context of bug extermination.  We can begin to see that the range over which the term 'incongruity' has been applied is a wide one; ranging from logical contradiction to Monro's mere 'inappropriateness'.

I apologize for the chaotic nature of my thought-processes, but Cioran claimed this is the very nature of thought itself, no?  There is a method to my madness, or maybe there is a madness to my method!


Definition of double entendre:

1 linguistics : a word or expression capable of two interpretations with one usually risqué.
// flirty talk full of double entendres

2 literature : ambiguity of meaning arising from language that lends itself to more than one interpretation
« Last Edit: October 25, 2020, 01:51:15 pm by Sticks and Stones »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

Kaspar Hauser

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2020, 02:14:04 pm »
Continuing with excerpts from Humor in Horror, after, "In other words, much of Ligotti’s writing is in a way comforting for people who are already disturbed" :

Quote from: Damian Zdanowicz
This assertion is supported by real life evidence and provided in the form of an essay published in the very first issue of Vastarien.

The author of the essay is a clinical psychologist working with patients who suffered trauma in their youth. He appears under a moniker of Dr. Raymond Thoss, a name borrowed from one of Ligotti’s characters. Dr. Thoss describes how the affirmation that the world is “fundamentally insane” which he found in Ligotti’s works, helped him deal with his own trauma, dissuaded him from committing suicide, and has continued to help his patients. 

According to Dr. Thoss, an affirmation of such kind is the first step in dealing with trauma, as it confirms the validity of doubts and feelings of a victim and does not dismiss the new, post-trauma worldview of such a person (Thoss 2018). 

Ligotti himself is a deeply troubled person who experienced physical and mental ordeals firsthand. He has been suffering from panic-anxiety disorder since he was 17 years old. He has depression and anhedonia, an illness that prevents from experiencing pleasure (Cardin 2006). He experimented with drugs and alcohol in his teenage years. He experienced chronic stress. The ordeals of the body he went through include Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  His involuntary explorations in physical pain reached their peak in 2012 when he had to undergo a surgery due to the case of diverticulitis (Padgett 2014).

In a way, Ligotti uses these experiences in his stories, as he sublimes his phobias and suffering into art. In Ligotti’s writing, the reader can trace particular themes that are connected with pain and fear. These themes would include, for example, medicaments and doctors (My Case for Retributive Actions) or the ordeals of the body (Severini, The Nycralops Trilogy). It should come as no surprise that such themes are present in his stories, or even comprise the majority of his work. But the question that is important for this dissertation is how humor can find its way into stories that stem from pessimism and both mental and physical suffering. Indeed, more often than not, humor in Ligotti’s stories seems to go unnoticed by most readers, and the reason for this appears to be the general bleakness of the philosophy contained therein. Jon Padgett affirms this when he writes: “Use of humor has always been a feature, often understated by critics, of Thomas Ligotti’s work” (Padgett 2017).

This dissertation will explain how humor is a part of Ligotti’s works and why it does not inhibit the atmosphere of horror, but instead reinforces it and goes in line with Ligotti’s pessimistic worldview. To this end, two stories will be examined with the focus on irony and grotesque. Each story has been selected due to the fact that it represents one of the major themes that Ligotti employs. Cardin distinguishes three of such themes, but for the purpose of this paper two will be mentioned here: “[F]irst, the meaninglessness—or possibly malevolence—of the reality principle behind the material universe; second, the perennial instability of this universe of solid forms, shapes, and concepts as it threatens to collapse as it threatens to mutate into something monstrous and unforeseeable” (Cardin 2003: 19). The first theme connected to irony and appears in “Purity,” whereas the second theme is connected to the grotesque and appears in “The Town Manager.”

I will not entice the reader with more excerpts at this time, but may add commentary if I am able to make some connections.

Is it not a curious idea, that there could be anything funny about the vulnerable predicament all living creatures find themselves in, in having been born?

Think of the contradiction of my own "project" : creating math modules for some future human beings while simultaneously harboring these premonitions about the futility and meaninglessness of all the galaxies of the cosmos ...

The question, "Why Bother?", may actually capture the very spirit of our lethargic indifference.  This "Why Bother?" was taken directly from a suggestion from a member of the old "Why Work Forums" ... I think it was Number Six, but it could have been someone else.  It certainly resonated with me.

https://youtu.be/2i_sCfE-a7g

Life itself is a natural disaster. Billions of futile life-forms suffering, whilst decaying, over billions of years. It disgusts me.

The size and nature of the universe is completely irrelevant. It's the very nature of EXISTENCE itself that makes everything pointless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o
« Last Edit: October 25, 2020, 06:01:01 pm by Sticks and Stones »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

Holden

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2020, 03:52:20 pm »

Quote
Unrequested needs, unrequested impulses ... Might the very protoplasm of existence itself learn not to want ?
-Herr Hauser

The trouble is, if whole idea of time is just inside of our heads,then all bets are off.

I am on page no. 26 of the Schopenhauerian philosophy book which you recommended.One is so small,compared to the rest of the world,no wonder one's desires are dashed most of the time.

Schopenhauer had no internet. Though,he did have a lot of books. Yet, he was, in some ways, quite isolated particularly in the second half of life and yet he was quite confident of his own capabilities.

The social and the cultural milieu tries to swamp one from all sides.Marriage is their Trojan  horse.There are but two possible alternatives-either one beheads the horse or one is stamped to death by it.

I am not entirely a stranger to horror. Poe had such a terrible life,probably worse than that of Lovecraft's-all this pain, all this suffering,all this misery-for what,exactly?

Take care.


https://youtu.be/ut82TDjciSg
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.

Kaspar Hauser

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2020, 06:19:45 pm »
The man singing the song seems under the impression that the Great Old Ones will rise from the oceans and destroy all of humanity except for him.

This reminds me of nightmares I used to have as a child where somehow I would manage to befriend the Monster, who would then become my ally.  There is an incongruity, no?  One would expect someone to be afraid of the Great Old Ones, but one who feels very alienated from their own species just might embrace these Older Than Humanity Ones' destruction of humanity as their saviors.

Quote from: Holden
I am on page no. 26 of the Schopenhauerian philosophy book which you recommended. One is so small,compared to the rest of the world,no wonder one's desires are dashed most of the time.

I have been so very interested in that Language, Logic, and Mathematics in Schopenhuaer, as well as this idea of humor in horror, that I took a spontaneous and abrupt reprieve from the "school mathematics project." (besides a slow and steady scanning-into-PDF-files of pages from the modules)

I paused about 1/5 the way into that text, which would be around page 60, I suppose.

I am allowing myself to march to the beat of my own inner drum.   Don't let me distract you too much.  It is amazing to me that Schopenhauer's influence spans such seemingly diverse disciplines.  At least, with this abundant queue of interests, I have something to occupy my mind other than my "negative cash flow position" ... and my apparent social status as a nobody.

Long live Nobody!

We are so small in comparison to the rest of the world, but the world as representation, with all the galaxies of the universe, is dependent upon the Subject's inner representation of being-in-the-world.  Most the desires of most every single creature are dashed repeatedly and continuously by the very nature of how each of us is wired.

If only we might tap into the perspective of things-in-themselves.  When I meditate upon the condition of my teeth, I try to become more aware of my skeleton.  I try to philosophize silently, that is, I reflect upon the nature of death and the nature of time and space.   

So, if time is inside our heads as part of the mental faculties, then it is an impossible fiction to imagine the creature being able to find any way out of the Creation?    Suicide won't work.  All species eventually go extinct, but, with time and space as "inner realities," then do we exist in some kind of awful eternity with no hope of escape or end to unrequested needs and unrequested impulses?
« Last Edit: October 25, 2020, 08:35:38 pm by Sticks and Stones »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

Kaspar Hauser

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2020, 12:14:59 am »
Quote from: Damian Zdanowicz
At the very beginning of the essay, "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft writes: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”    It can be inferred that according to Lovecraft, a truly effective horror story should not depend on an established repository of well-known monsters and creatures.

Quote from: HP Lovecraft
The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain — a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.

As the above passages show, the grotesque is closely connected to horror. Absurdity, which can express itself through grotesque and alienated world, may serve to enhance horror in the story. But the absurd can also be means of creating humor. French researcher Jean Onimus writes that: “Our resistance against the scandal of existence oscillates between clownery and anger, between mad laughter and sobbing”. The scandal of existence which stems from absurdity of the world is a prevailing theme in Ligotti’s writing. This theme serves as a frame within which humor and horror can be combined.

Our resistance against the scandal of existence ... Is this our Great Refusal?
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 12:31:58 am by Sticks and Stones »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

Holden

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2020, 05:29:34 pm »
So, if time is inside our heads as part of the mental faculties, then it is an impossible fiction to imagine the creature being able to find any way out of the Creation?    Suicide won't work.  All species eventually go extinct, but, with time and space as "inner realities," then do we exist in some kind of awful eternity with no hope of escape or end to unrequested needs and unrequested impulses?-Herr Hauser


This is very well put,indeed.Maybe I would take a day to think about it and respond then.

Take care.
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.

Kaspar Hauser

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2020, 05:59:45 pm »
Thank you, Holden, for your patience with these difficult-to-articulate questions.  I fully defer to your authority when it comes to Horror, not to mention the high probability that you have a deeper sense of what Schopenhauer (and Kant) meant by "the ideality of time and space," due to your having been born into a geographical location with a long history of a culture steeped in this perspective.  The Veil of Maya screams World as Representation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LrxYds2UNE
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 06:37:06 pm by Sticks and Stones »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~

Holden

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Re: Humor in Horror
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2020, 02:04:29 pm »
Mr.Silenus has written about the Ouroboros,the serpent eating its own tail and that seems to me, to be an apt symbol.We are made of matter,every effect, by definition, has a cause.

Mosquitoes, the little Draculas, want to drink my blood. I guess, they have got acclimatized to the repellent.I have read a couple of books by Graham Greene and they are so weirdly sad that one is left with the wish that the world perishes this very moment.

Only a monster can devise a world such as the one we find ourselves in. Most people would never concede that,just like the fact that most people will never comprehend even the fundamentals of mathematics and logic.

Take care.
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.