Philosophers on Laughter

There is nothing to laugh at.
Plato advised keeping it in: no laughter.
What are you laughing at?
Plato said Homer shouldn’t have said the gods laugh.
They laugh, you won’t.
He was right on the money on that.
What are you laughing at?
The Trojan war was on TV almost immediately.
Do you see me laughing?
What is that you were laughing about?
Is that something to laugh about?
Is that healthy laughter, sick laughter.
fake laughter, real laughter,
spontaneous laughter, unctuous laughter,
genuine laughter, servile laughter,
or just laughing stock for the soup?
They laugh tonight, they cry tomorrow.
They come from laughing stock.
Descartes said laugher was joy rising like steam from a broth of ridicule.
New York is a great city: we have:
Laughing yoga.
The school for laughter.
The laughter school.
The laughter of the living.
The laughter of the dead.
and people who make me laugh.
I laughed through the whole book.
I laughed until I cried.

Why did the laughter stop.
When did it become canned laughter, frothy laughter.
risible laughter, and eerie laughter?

Do animals laugh?
Some do, some don’t.

Epictetus forbade his followers to laugh.
My followers do not laugh. They smirk and chortle.
They do not laugh.
I am Epictetus. Born 50 CE In Hierapolis, dies 135 CE in Nicopolis.
Influenced by Socrates, Diogenes, Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, and Hippocrates all of whose followers did not laugh.
“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”
What are you laughing at?
Basil the Great said laughter came from a disregulated body.
He supported the Nicene Creed but felt differently about clowns.
Died January 1st , 379 CE in Ceasarea but not before writing both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea.
Herbert Spencer declared laughter a nervous energy that prepared
   the body to flee.
Aristotle said laughter was learned insolence.
Lord Shaftesbury said laughter was a form of relief like farting.
John Locke said that it was animal spirits passing through the nerves.
Pachon of Egypt forbade first joking than talking at all.
Pachon was the ninth months of the Egyptian civil calendar.
Pachon walks into a bar. All the talking stopped.
In the Bible laughing at prophets is punishable by death.
So even the prophets were silent when Pachon came in.
You can laugh at my accent now. I’ll laugh at yours later.
Frances Hutcheson said that it was OK to laugh at mangled speech.
Frances Hutcheson born in Ulster in 1694 wrote “A System of Moral Philosophy,” a high-minded volume in perfect Scottish Presbyterian.
Do you see me laughing?
Life is no laughing matter.
When should we laugh?
Can you recognize a punchline when you see one?
Hibernus wrote that if the laughter is helpless there might be lenience.
Does a joke speak volumes?
How do we know when a joke is over?
Is frivolous company something only the rich have?
How is vulgar laughter different from sophisticated laughter?
Hobbes said that laughter was the sound of a vainglorious goose.
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury wrote Leviathan in 1651.
The Puritans outlawed comedy in the New World.
The Old World shook with laughter in their wake, or were those waves?
Who’s laughing now? Not the puritans. They are seriously jerking off.
Sigmund Freud said that laughter is suppressed sexual energy
that when dissected yields a multitude of tiny coiled sexual bombykles
that elud the inner censors who sit on every neuron with a torch.
John Dewey said that laughter was the release that follows suspence.
John Dewey is the father of functional psychology from Vermont.
Plato walks into a bar. The bar. It’s in Canada.
The Trojan war is on TV.
Helen and Achilles are disturbed by a gaggle of laughing swans
who run into paint.
What’s there to laugh at?
Am I laughing?
Where did all the laughter go?
What were the people of the past laughing at?
Was that supposed to be a joke? HaHa.
I can’t stop laughing?
Why are many poets serious?
There are two kinds of poets: serious and funny.
They fight each other but the funny poets are always serious
The serious poets are sometimes funny in a serious sort of way.
Is a smile of incipient laughter a post-laughter?
The time for laughs is over, you’re grown up now.
Some people can laugh at themselves but not very hard.
If they look hard at themselves it’s not so funny.
What is “laughing to oneself,” as in “he laughed quietly to himself?”
She died from laughing. He died laughing. Other people on the scene laughed quietly to themselves.
Is it ok to laugh now?
She laughed until he cried.
If you laugh when I cry I’ll kill you.
I remind you that you’re hooked to the polygraph and that you must answer truthfully or we will laugh at you until you confess.
What’s the funniest religion?
“They marched to war laughing tears of joy.”
Why do skulls always grin? Are they laughing?
Spasmodic laughter caused hilarity in the crowd of drunken revel eras.
“Fearful laughter was heard.”
“They were made to laugh while their neighbors were impaled.”
“I had a funny dream.”
“”Don’t laugh. It WAS funny.”
“I laughed at first. Then I realized that it wasn’t a joke.”
What’s “wrong laughter”?
When is stupid funny and when does stupid stop being funny?
What is so stupid that everyone laughs?
What is so stupid that half the people laugh and half the people leave?
Why are clowns scary?
Jan van Hoof states that laughter evolved from the “grin face” and the “social grimace.” When Jan van Hoof was a baby born in the Netherlands on May 15, 1836 he was grabbed, poked and tickled.
“Fearful laughter was heard”
The hunted don’t laugh for fear of being found laughing.
Kierkegaard stopped at irony. Laughter freaked him out.

(from “The philosophers aren’t laughing,” a pamphlet in progress)

–Andrei Codrescu


Poetry

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