A round of laughter

1. Imagine naming a child after its mother’s laugh.
2. The mother’s characteristic laugh. Which is not the same as the characteristic way we represent a laugh – a haha, a hoho. These onomatopeia are grossly AWOL from the real sound of laughter. Yet as signs of that natural sign (laughter, since Occam, being treated in the tradition as a natural sign of joy – as, for instance, in Descartes), ha ha and ho ho have fed back into the pool of laughs. In English, at least, they sound much like the forced laugh, and perhaps this is because the forced laugh sounds like them. The forced laugh, in that sense, is quoting a laugh, which is representing a sound that has become, through some process of selection, the convention for the laugh. The sign, briefly, stands for itself. The forced laugh is humiliating. It is a way of being, for whatever reason, servile. Every forced laugh I have ever uttered has been cancerous.
3. Such a name, the name of this child, would confront the brute nature of the laugh and our way of domesticating it into the registry of signs and symbols. We recognize the laugh as a vocal expression, but what kind of expression is it?
4. Call the child. Let the child write down her name.
5. Dear Boss,
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck.Yours truly
Jack the Ripper
6. It is an odd kind of expression, as all philosophers have noted. Beyond the natural sign, it is not exactly a gesture – especially as a gesture is explained by a previous intention. A laugh can’t be totally governed by an intention. On the other hand, it is not totally unpredictable. Like a blush.
7. Ha Ha. Jack the ripper, if the Ripperologist say true, was very fond of that phrase in the few authentic letters from him. Although they may not be authentic, either.
8. Traditionally, the opposition is laughter vs. tears. Both are involuntary in one sense, in that the closer they are to voluntary, the closer they are to false. Ha ha.
9. The medievalist, Jacques Le Goff, has written that that Church created a great system opposing tears to laughter. The spirit of Lent versus the Spirit of Carnival. The church was a great organizer of tears. Laughter, however, has always been in a somewhat strained relationship with the Church. As with most of the great religions – Islam, Buddhism.
10. Laughter, as Le Goff points out, takes on different senses and has borne different names. The is a different name for mocking (laag)as opposed to joyous laughter (sakhoq) in Old Testament Hebrew, for instance.
11. Jean-Michel Beaudet in Laughter: an example from Amazonia, finds four types of laughter among the Tupi: men’s, women’s, collective, and caricatural, which, I think, is false. Beaudet is interested in the variations in the sounds of these laughters.
12. Helmut Plessner, in Laughter and Crying, uses these as border phenomena, between the body and the expressive, to look at the doubleness of the human body, iwhich we are, and “in which” we are. To be in, to be of, the prisoner is the prison. It is to laugh. Ha Ha. Plessner is especially impressed by the words associated with laughter – burst, explode. For him, it is that moment when the discipline of the body dissolves – the sense body of experience encounters that problem to which it cannot find any answer. This is the nature of the natural sign – to be the nature that human nature must work with. And work.
13. We will. Or we won’t. This is the human switch. It is a great simplifier. Laughter, being expression that is interjection, almost unprocessed matter – it is as if called up by a spell. A spell reaches for that switch. On. Off. Perhaps this is why laughter, for the church, seemed far from God. And closer to the devil. God has the last judgment. The devil has the last laugh. Ha Ha. Ha Ha. Ha Ha.


northanger said…
woggia, mr mullins doesn't realize i don't really have the time to get into a massive flamewar. can you tell him for me that some good philosophical action can be found @ Realism Wars™? and to keep up the good fight for me? thanks.
roger said…
North! How are you doing? Are you still living in S. Cal., or are you living in the bay area? It is obvious the entire web suffers from your absence!

As for flamewars, are they still happening?
Anonymous said…
Hey North, why waste your breath on the so-called flamewars. Better to cut the oxygen and let the hot air merchants turn blue in the face!
But, here is something for you and LI.

Malheureux peut-être l'homme, mais heureux l'artiste que le désir déchire!

Je brûle de peindre celle qui m'est apparue si rarement et qui a fui si vite, comme une belle chose regrettable derrière le voyageur emporté dans la nuit. Comme il y a longtemps déjà qu'elle a disparu!

Elle est belle, et plus que belle; elle est surprenante. En elle le noir abonde: et tout ce qu'elle inspire est nocturne et profond. Ses yeux sont deux antres où scintille vaguement le mystère, et son regard illumine comme l'éclair: c'est une explosion dans les ténèbres.

Je la comparerais à un soleil noir, si l'on pouvait concevoir un astre noir versant la lumière et le bonheur. Mais elle fait plus volontiers penser à la lune, qui sans doute l'a marquée de sa redoutable influence; non pas la lune blanche des idylles, qui ressemble à une froide mariée, mais la lune sinistre et enivrante, suspendue au fond d'une nuit orageuse et bousculée par les nuées qui courent; non pas la lune paisible et discrète visitant le sommeil des hommes purs, mais la lune arrachée du ciel, vaincue et révoltée, que les Sorcières thessaliennes contraignent durement à danser sur l'herbe terrifiée!

Dans son petit front habitent la volonté tenace et l'amour de la proie. Cependant, au bas de ce visage inquiétant, où des narines mobiles aspirent l'inconnu et l'impossible, éclate, avec une grâce inexprimable, le rire d'une grande bouche, rouge et blanche, et délicieuse, qui fait rêver au miracle d'une superbe fleur éclose dans un terrain volcanique.

Il y a des femmes qui inspirent l'envie de les vaincre et de jouir d'elles; mais celle-ci donne le désir de mourir lentement sous son regard.

(Baudelaire, Le désir de peindre)

roger said…
Well, Amie, you've made me feel like abandoning my thread about laughter, enlightenment, and the masons, and do a much more interesting thread about Baudelaire - the indispensable poet.

So I will mark this in my memory, although - like so many things you cite in my comments and I return to later! - I'll probably forget that it was you that pushed me in this direction. As with the fantastic quotation from Hebel you once witchily inserted in these comments.
northanger said…
Roger, i remain in the Inland Empire of the Great Bear State (just moving down the block). the web suffers no lack because yea tho it blah blah blah, blah blah blah it shall fear no evil. yadda yadda.

Amie, excellent advice (that's why i ran over here, matter of fact). translation please on that surely appreciated bit.

i have now finished packing all my porn. what a relief! forgot i shredded all the video tape covers during last move. roger! when i die will you discard all my porn before my family sees it? that will set my mind at rest.
roger said…
Discard? I got dibs on that stuff!
northanger said…
ok! you're in the will. i'll get it changed tomorrow.
northanger said…
maybe i should leave bend over boyfriend to Patrick.
roger said…
Please - when you put it in the will, call them my ethnographic video collection of sexual studies of North Americans. It sounds better.
northanger said…
do you have a middle name? or should i make one up? are you an esquire? do you have letters after your name?
roger said…
I do have letters after my name. Mostly from creditors. But I never open them, so no need to worry.

North, what other Roger Gathman in this blissfully unconscious country we call home is going to lay claim to enhnographic video sexual aids regarding North Americans!!!! Do I have a double, or something? My only double is donald duch.
northanger said…
oh right! i'll just put Roger.

I, being somewhat sound of mind & body, do bequeath this 28th day of April, two thousand and nine, my entire ethnographic video (including smudgy paper, photos, fanfic & talismans) collection of sexual studies of North Americans to Roger.
roger said…
northanger said…
yes. and my stuffed animals & the lava lamp.
roger said…
North, and you wonder why I say you are the light of my life? A lava lamp? A porno lava lamp?

I feel like a country yokel, now.

Hey, if you want to see a flame war, how about this one between me and this guy, Barkley Rosser. The guy is an economist, I think.

I say mean things to him, he says mean things to me, in between there's some real argument.
northanger said…
it's a porno lava lamp. it comes in a condom.

tried to explain to someone that their credit rating meant absolutely nothing until the issue about their missing income was rectified.

keep up the good flamefight!
roger said…
Funny, I have that missing income problem too. I figure it will be rectified in heaven.
mr. Mullins, in a rare TV appearance. said…
'maybe i should leave bend over boyfriend to Patrick.'

ERDA! Your FLAME WAR was the only thing that made a good thing perfect. Do you really think I'd have converted to Dick Cheney this fast had it not been for you? Karl Rove still in the doghouse--too much blubber and fat ass... Fuck, I wish i'd looked over here before today, now I'm afraid I've missed you. I hope your move goes well, and even though advised not to go by Inland Empire by a Los Angeles Landmarks queen, I have changed my mind if you behave (and YOU'RE not one of the ones often enough told to behave, relying on lunatic charm...)

I mean, of course you tried to save the 2 or 3 morals I had left, as a result I had at least one and used it wisely. You know perfectly well I understand the decision Arletty made about...her German...that she ought not to have...not that conversion to Dick Cheneyism in this case is COMPARABLE, you ridiculous contentious FORTUNE TELLER! Fuck--as I said on the other thread, you can come into Hollywood and we'll go to Roscoe's Chicken 'n' Waffles for the Smothered Chicken, plus i know the magenta-haired waitress,unless you think I need the literal trenchancy of Hard-Core Pomona...anyway, my conversion was complete by last night, which is at the end of one of the movie threads which I won't name...it was total ecstasy, and I owe a lot of it to you...I mean, after all the ball-busting you did, I am FINE with Donald Rumsfeld as a j.o. partner, you can stick to your Jane Austen fantasies...xxx...thanks, woggia...