Author Topic: Humor in Horror  (Read 1166 times)

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Creepy Sleepy

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Re: Humor in Horror
« 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 »
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