Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (Dover Books on Western Philosophy)

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9780486443805: Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic (Dover Books on Western Philosophy)

In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh.
One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. "A situation is always comic," Bergson notes, "if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings." The philosopher's thought-provoking insights (e.g., "It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group.") keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor.

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Clem Kadiddlehopper wore a funny hat. Even animals other than humans seem to laugh, because they, too, possess emotions. And sometimes, when you're by yourself, you just start giggling for no reason. But that's not funny. As Henri Bergson, proto-existentialist French philosopher and author of Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, would say, you can stop laughing now. We must rethink what tickles us. For Bergson, laughter is a purely intellectual response that serves the social purpose of assuaging discomfort over the unaccustomed and unexpected. We chuckle at Lucy attempting to wrap the bonbons speeding by on a candy-factory conveyor belt because she's stuck in one place, performing the same task over and over, and failing; we hope that in similar situations we could be more flexible. Bergson recaps: "Rigidity is the comic, and laughter is its corrective."

Bergson's thinking typifies a peculiarly Gallic tendency to rationalize the apparently ephemeral and subjective (in this case, humor), discussing it in exquisitely rarefied language in order to assert that which defies common sense (a funny hat is not funny, laughter expresses no emotion, no one laughs alone) but partakes nonetheless of a logical inevitability. Laughter, first published in 1911, clearly draws upon the early years of European modernism, yet also prefigures the movement in some ways. In recognizing the comic as it embodies itself in a "rigid," absentminded person, locked into repetitious, socially awkward behavior, Bergson--even as he looks backward, primarily to Molière--seems to be spawning the sophisticated visual and physical comedy of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd; the transformation of Léger's figures into anthropoid machines; and Nijinsky's starring role in Stravinsky's satirical clockwork ballet Pétrouchka.

This little book resurrects a British translation that has long been out of print. While Laughter won't quite explain why the French love Jerry Lewis, or keep you in stitches, it's a bracing read that will make you think twice about laughing the next time someone stumbles into a lamppost. --Robert Burns Neveldine

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Book Description Dover Publications Inc., United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh. One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. A situation is always comic, Bergson notes, if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings. The philosopher s thought-provoking insights (e.g., It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group. ) keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780486443805

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Book Description Dover Publications Inc., United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh. One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. A situation is always comic, Bergson notes, if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings. The philosopher s thought-provoking insights (e.g., It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group. ) keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780486443805

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Book Description Dover Publications Inc., United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 210 x 138 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this great philosophical essay, Henri Bergson explores why people laugh and what laughter means. Written at the turn of the twentieth century, Laughter explores what it is in language that makes a joke funny and what it is in us that makes us laugh. One of the functions of humor, according to Bergson, is to help us retain our humanity during an age of mechanization. Like other philosophers, novelists, poets, and humorists of his era, Bergson was concerned with the duality of man and machine. His belief in life as a vital impulse, indefinable by reason alone, informs his perception of comedy as the relief we experience upon distancing ourselves from the mechanistic and materialistic. A situation is always comic, Bergson notes, if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings. The philosopher s thought-provoking insights (e.g., It seems that laughter needs an echo. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group. ) keep this work ever-relevant as a thesis on the principles of humor. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780486443805

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