If you spent any time with Jason in the weeks before his leave of absence, you probably heard him make light of his situation. In a few different communications he wrote he was “looking forward to finding humor 和 good stories in this.” 这 impulse is one we all know well: laughing at something serious so it can’t master us.
In this way joke-making 和 humor are largely about freedom. 摆脱自我(自我贬低), 不受他人(戏弄和嘲笑)的约束, 摆脱权力的自由(讽刺), 甚至免于死亡(黑色幽默). I wrote about freedom as it relates to academic 和 artistic study on 日博体育官方APP博客 a while back for our series on “日博体育官方APP法.” There I argued why fine arts 和 liberal arts are both valuable in 和 of themselves 和 how they carry equal weight in our co-curricular model.
在我看来, given the seriousness of the past few years, humor should take an informal place in this model, 太. Not as a way to shrink from difficulty, but as a way to confront it.
In my Literature 和 the Comedic Form course we read John Morreall’s 认真对待笑 - a book that outlines the primary theories of laughter 和 then considers the more serious implications of humor. It’s in these later chapters where Morreall provides insight on how we might use humor to confront that which seeks to master us.
He argues joking always requires us to connect at least two incongruous elements (think: “a ______ 和 a ______ walk into a ______”) so it helps us develop a flexibility of mind 和 see things in multiple ways at once. 这, Morreall说, gives us a “philosopher’s attitude” that provides “critical distance” between us 和 the difficulties of the world. He goes on to say this about distance: “Rather than feeling governed by the situation 和 obliged to look at it in only one way, we feel playful toward it 和 thus ourselves in control.”
Obviously we should not use humor to “laugh off” or overly distance ourselves from pressing matters. 决不. Morreall himself cautions us about humor’s “moral limitations.“我们应该, 虽然, appreciate what the flexibility of mind implicit in a humorous attitude may provide, as some recent work in psychology suggests a flexible mindset might be key to building resilience (see the work of researchers George Bonanno, Susanne Schwager, 克劳斯·罗瑟蒙德).
这些日子感觉就像黑暗的日子. I mean that figuratively (see: the past couple of years 和 recent news), 和 also literally (winter in the midwest is 所以黑暗). 随着夏令时的临近, 和 we are mercifully granted additional sunlight, I hope we can find ways to make light of what tries to control us. 是的, it’s coincidental that we use “light” to describe both the levity humor can bring 和 to describe an illuminated underst和ing, but there is something 诗人ic about this homonymy. 好的幽默使我们感到轻松 和 光明能让你感觉更自由吗.
Let’s all hope Jason is finding the levity he needs right now. If you need a dose for yourself, I encourage you to watch 这个草图 - it’s one I use in class to demonstrate various theories of laughter 和 it just so happens to make light of brain surgery!