11/16/04   Humor

Okay, I know that I promised everyone funny today, but you gotta work with what you got!  I just didn't realize how hard this would be.  It is honestly very difficult to find humor in some situations, particularly when the other side, or the butt of the humor is deadly serious about their position and has no sense of humor.  I say, has no sense of humor, strictly in the sense of intellectual self-criticism.  Physical humor, such as slapstick, pratfalls and and other such shtick is OK with the Bush administration. 

King George started early with his appreciation of this type of humor in Yale as he branded fraternity pledges with red-hot coat hangers.  Whether we wish to admit it or not there is a dark side of the human psyche in all of us, which finds delight in the despair of others.  You can examine throughout the history of film many artists and comedians who made a living with this knowledge.  The Keystone cops, the Three Stooges, and all the way up through the likes of Chevy Chase are just a few examples that spring to my mind.  Toddlers, if not taught and conditioned early on, will not learn sympathy for others, and will delight in actually drawing blood from their peers if left to their own devices.

As humor progresses throughout human development it becomes much more refined and actually mirrors the developmental process itself in a way.  Most people progress with the help of nurturing families through stages of humor.  Initially, there is an infantile delight in causing humor to others, particularly a frustrating mother.  With various forms of conditioning children actually began to play civilly with each other and find more acceptable shared humorous experiences.  As language is acquired in its various forms which include speaking, reading, and writing it facilitates a further development of humor as well.  In general, acquisition and mastery of language enables an individual to evolve an abstract, internal environment of imagination.  It is this ability to abstract, which many say sets us apart from the rest of the animals in the world.

In this light, adolescence is an interesting stage in the development of humor.  At this point in a child's life they are beginning to take the first steps towards self-awareness and abstraction while frequently revisiting and consolidating earlier stages of development.  Hence, the juxtaposition of being able to have sympathy towards peers, while being quite capably cruel in a type of herd mentality towards the same peer.  It's about this time where the cruel, but loving nicknames surface.  Generally, they take the form of pointing out some type of minimal physical difference and verbally magnifying visit to the level of grotesque.  It becomes in many cases a giant scarlet letter which some individuals unfortunately carry around for the rest of their lives.  We are frequently told that Dub is quite a fan of this type of "verbal branding".  I wonder what it's going to be like as Ken Lay begins serving hard time with the nickname of "Kenny Boy".

Humor and mental development proceed from here throughout the adult life cycle and progress is based on many factors.  In a nutshell, further development is roughly based upon environmental challenges.  If the individual functions well and has their needs met in a particular niche, there is often no need for further development, and consequently humor does not evolve.  In many ways, the zenith of a developed sense of humor is one's ability to laugh heartily and honestly at one's own foibles.  To do so, one must have evolved a thorough ability at abstraction through constant acquisition and refinement of language abilities, including reading, writing, and speaking. We are told that Dub does not read and instead relegates this chore to underlings. Thusly, and I can't believe I'm saying this; maybe Woody Allen would represent the ultimate in a mature sense of humor.  (Frankly I hate his movies and his style of humor in that I think it goes a little too far in a masochistic sense)

This brings me full circle to the difficulties I had with writing something humorous today.  I submit to you that these people scare the crap out of me because they have no sense of humor!  In order to develop a mature sense of humor as above you've got to be able to admit mistakes and ultimately forgive yourself and indeed laugh at yourself.  This was one of the most disturbing things I noticed during the presidential debates.  Dub was offered a multitude of opportunities to show that he had this ability, but instead he always fell back to the typically adolescent position of having everything be everyone else's fault and making fun of them for that.  And the most frightening thing, if you buy into the "Bush’s Lump" conspiracy, is the implication that a president is not even capable of an adolescent level of humor, and had to have his lines fed to him!  George Bush, an arrested adolescent accidental president?  (Do you think he knows what the word alliteration means?)  We present, you decide!

Right about now, you are probably about to point out to me my own fondness for making up nicknames for these guys and descending to an adolescent level of humor.  Well... that's not funny, and I ought to kick your ass!  Just kidding.  The difference is that I consider myself quite capable of introspection and I am frequently disturbed with how hilarious my shortcomings are.  I am also, for the most part, not afraid to air them in public.  I will continue to address situations with the level of humor that applies.  I think that the administration's actions, such as quashing dissent, torturing prisoners, and sacrificing human life offer a window into the level of humor that they're capable of.  More subtle, sophisticated, introspective, and therefore more useful types of humor they will never get, and just write off as being disrespectful towards your country and your president.