“Humour Is Impossible”

“Humour Is Impossible”

Humour is impossible in the throes
of serious contemplation of the most potent question
ever asked on any secular page of literature:
“To be or not to be, that is the question,…”

When faced with such a query,
who will denigrate his own
imagined station and position within what is,
after all, a lethal situation for all of us?

The bourgeoisie cannot afford to ask the question;
the rich above the need of contemplation;
the poor too oppressed by the instincts,
the daily needs of hunting and gathering

simply to ensure a continued existence
in this world share  a modicum of
some comfort on the odd occasion.
The rich experience nothing because

every effort costs them nothing;
their pride, therefore, is rendered moot.
The bourgeois may well seek to own his world
in terms of expressions of what he imagines

the bailiwick of their betters,
and indeed, but fails to recognise
that ownership without purpose
sustained over a generation or two

is inevitably the prescription
for yet another application
of the Peter Principle
or the Dunning-Kruger Effect

and, as with poisons can provide
as great a lethal punch to the soul
as it can be in beneficial form to the body.
The poor experience the wonders

of life, struggle, and death but have no voice,
no language that does not promote
anything short of need at best, sedition
at worst when given half a chance,

and in the odd instance passing freedom from sheer want.
Witness: from a tax revolt in 1776, America did without its king;
1789, the French its monarchy and aristocracy;
1917, the Russians their czar, their aristocracy,
Their bourgeoisie yet all revolutions failed.

…But, Nymph in thine orisons be all my sins remembered,
strip away convention, then, and turn to prose….

Given all of the above and the advent of the credit card on the one hand, and ubiquitous Federal Reserve Bank Notes, the logical use and result of the invention of the printing press, what might have been humorous in the past has lost its flavour much like one’s wad of “chewing gum on the bedpost overnight,” simply because whether one addresses true tragedy or its counterpart in comedy, both rely on some helpful word as to what constitutes the intrinsic good or, in short, the presence of virtue and its ultimate outcome, nobility, vraiment…. Without such a word, we have no choice but to think nothing is too sacred to denigrate, belittle, or even to crucify, as the history of all of the many Prophets and Messengers of God, not to mention spiritual philosophers have experienced and met Their ends; what, then can be said of the qualities of the arts and sciences, and the “pith and marrow” of any given society on this planet?

In the end, what constitutes a poet if in fact the characteristics of the artists and sciences have been laughed to scorn just as those of the basic institutions from the kings, popes, religious leaders of all kinds, lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, librarians, professions of all sorts. Once one has laughed at God, Himself, it is difficult or even impossible to maintain any semblance of nobility; what should the present two or three generations expect but that after what amounts to almost continual world wars from the 1840’s and straight into the present hour? So much for religion, government, and so much for the arts and sciences, and ultimately so much for the sanctity of life, itself; if Hamlet had some difficulty in maintaining his sense of humour in a Denmark rotten to the core in its banquet days, what, then, can be said of the “remains of the day,” as it were, by the by, so to speak, as the crow flies, in our sweet time, …que çela reste entre nous deux?….

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4 responses to ““Humour Is Impossible”

  1. Not that long ago, I would have said you’re being pessimistic…

    No, all I can say is your being perfectly truthful…

    • On one site or another from Stumbleupon, I discovered the following observation within a posting that caught my eye for obvious reasons; when it comes to negativity, nothing beats the instant critical and often involuntary negative reaction in any of us to anything that smacks of the truth:

      “I often wondered when I cursed,
      Often feared where I would be –
      Wondered where she’d yield her love
      When I yield, so will she.
      I would her will be pitied!
      Cursed be love! She pitied me…

      Following a whim, I printed out this poem by Lewis Carroll and taped it to a wall in one of the elevators here at the institute, thus covering a few of the usual one-word exclamations that help foreign postdocs to master that part of the German language as well. The poem barely made it one day – somebody tore it off, leaving the tape and shreds of paper behind. I replaced it, and the next day it was removed completely, without a trace. I wonder who did it: A student that could not resist tearing it off just because he could? A secretary who considered it vandalism and would much rather stare at the letters “CuntHEAD”? Maybe even someone who liked the poem and wanted to keep it? The strange thing for me is how surprisingly guilty I feel about this unasked-for act of mine. The fact that both times the poem was gone so quickly was like a signal telling me that this is not wanted around here, it’s a disturbance and needs to be removed immediately. But I will not give up yet – we’re at the Institute of Mathematics, and Lewis Carroll was a mathematician, and I believe everybody around here who isn’t already familiar with Carroll’s poetry ought to get a chance to catch up on it and discover the clever and often beautiful nonsense verses of their great colleague.”

  2. You’re still working at an Institute??

    • This was a direct quotation of something I read on Stumbleupon; I only posted it here because it has a relevance to your original comment. So, no, I have never worked “at an Institute.”

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