Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Metaphysics of Laughter


There are two types of laughter, but it is always about connection. The first type is social: we will laugh for no reason when we are pleased to be near someone, or to cover awkwardness. When we refuse to laugh at someone's joke, we are refusing a social connection with them. Therefore, we will laugh to be polite.

The second type of connection that inspires laughter is a juxtaposition between two completely separate ideas: dogs in bars, for example. It is relief from the ordinary. It allows us to acknowledge the possibility of a strange connection.

Some jokes, like puns, are more intellectual, but they are still about connecting disparate ideas. And we laugh because it was a connection we did not see before, even though it has always been there.

Laughter is good for us. It connects us, not just to each other, but to everything. And it isn't just messing around. It's a highly spiritual exercise that we should all attempt more often.