Rigidity = humor

 

…. a certain rigidity of body, mind and character, that society would still like to get rid of in order to obtain from its members the greatest possible degree of elasticity and sociability. This rigidity is the comic, and laughter is its corrective.
– from Laughter, by Henri Bergson

Draft….

What’s funny? Any why?

Humor can be friendly, usually when we include ourselves, or not. It can be silly or piercing. It can be spontaneous or planned.

In either case, when something is funny, it is often because we have expectations of how life is or ideas of how the world should be, and yet life does something else.

It’s funny when something doesn’t meet our expectations of how the world works.

Or when someone is attached to ideas, and the absurdity of it is pointed out.

In Monty Python: Almost the Truth, John Cleese mentions Henry Bergson’s observations on humor. We laugh at rigidity.

And when does rigidity happen? Rigidity first happens when are convinced that our ideas about life are correct. Life is then waiting to prove us wrong, and does. We can meet this with receptivity and move on. Or we cling to our ideas as if they were accurate, true, and helpful, and continue fueling our rigidity.

It is funny because we insist on clinging to an image of how the world is or should be, while life prepares to prove us wrong and eventually does.

And is tragic since this is how we create suffering for ourselves.

We could just see this, drop our ideas, laugh at our own silliness, and move on. And we often do. But it is not always that easy. We can be stubborn, confused, and caught up in fear of what may happen if we let go of our belief.

…………….
…………….
…………….
…………….

Trigger: In the Monty Python: Almost the Truth, John Cleese mentions Henri Bergson’s observation on humor: we laugh at rigidity. I also found an article in a Norwegian Buddhist publication with excerpts from a talk John Cleese gave on humor.

…..

– mismatch between our beliefs + life
— ideas of how life is or should be + take as true + life planning to prove us wrong, and does
— friendly humor, helps receptivity (humor, an attitude, decide to find the humor in it, and can also be friendly, which in turn helps receptivity)
— also, with insight, life goes from tragedy to comedy

…..
…..

– humor
— (i) life invalidates our expectations, shoulds, beliefs
— (ii) we recognize this and laugh along (humor), or insist on clinging to our ideas (tragic)
— also, mirror – find ourselves in others, w. humor it is easier
— in general, (friendly) humor makes it easier to recognize what is going on, receptivity

……………..
……………..
……………..

– identification w. viewpoint = rigidity = tragicomical
– tragic b/c unease, distress, suffering
– comical b/c we are all in the same boat, and there is a simple (although not always easy) solution
– comical b/c it is out of alignment w. reality, we oppose reality as Don Quixote fights windmills

………
………

  • rigidity = humor
    • funny to watch someone at odds with reality, inflexible, stubborn, creating his/her own misery
    • also b/c recognize from ourselves
    • reasons
      • making fun of the rigidity of others, may help them loosen up – to the benefit of all
      • sense of humor of own rigidity, makes it easier to acknowledge and loosen up, see other possibilities, find more flexibility

………

In a word, if a circle be drawn round those actions and dispositions–implied in individual or social life–to which their natural consequences bring their own penalties, there remains outside this sphere of emotion and struggle–and within a neutral zone in which man simply exposes himself to man’s curiosity–a certain rigidity of body, mind and character, that society would still like to get rid of in order to obtain from its members the greatest possible degree of elasticity and sociability. This rigidity is the comic, and laughter is its corrective.
– Henri Bergson

………….

Whenever we act from rigidity, we are at odds with reality. We cling to an idea about how the world is or should be, even as reality shows up differently. And this is tragic, since it is how we create suffering for ourselves. But it is also inherently funny.

It is funny watching someone at odds with reality, inflexible, stubborn, creating his or her misery, also – or perhaps mainly – because we recognize it from ourselves. It is what we do, daily.

……………

initial draft…

…. a certain rigidity of body, mind and character, that society would still like to get rid of in order to obtain from its members the greatest possible degree of elasticity and sociability. This rigidity is the comic, and laughter is its corrective.
– from Laughter, by Henri Bergson

What’s funny? Any why?

Humor can be friendly, usually when we include ourselves, or not. It can be silly or piercing. It can be spontaneous or planned.

In either case, when something is funny, it is often because it rubs up against our expectations of how life is, or our wishes for how how life should be.

[Monty Python’s lumberjack song]

It’s funny when something doesn’t meet our expectations of how the world works.

[Monty Python’s every sperm is sacred]

Or when someone is attached to ideas in obviously absurd ways.

In other words, when something is funny, it is usually when life rubs up against beliefs, whether these are our own or the beliefs of someone else.

In Monty Python: Almost the Truth, John Cleese mentions this. As Henry Bergson pointed out, we laugh at rigidity.

When does rigidity happen? It seems to happen when we are caught up in stories. When we are convinced that our ideas about life are correct and life does something else. Or when we are attached to a particular outcome and something else happens.

It’s not just funny, but tragicomic.

It is tragic, since this is how we create suffering for ourselves.

And it is funny because we insist on clinging to an image of how the world is or should be, while the world lives its own life and shows up differently.

We could just see this, drop our ideas, and laugh of our own silliness, and we often do. But sometimes, it is not that easy. We can be stubborn, confused, and caught up in fear of what may happen if we let go of our belief.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.