Laughter and Comedy: Is Laughter Transcendental?

This excerpt is from my paper ‘How Effective is Laughter and Comedy in Creating an Atmosphere of Positive Peace?’

Humour Transcending Opposition

The liberating energy of laughter transcends the instinct of fight or flight. Laughter transcends opposition, attains victory over it, therefore producing an empowering effect.79
Laughter can be used as a means of dispute resolution and correction of aberrent behaviour. The pygmies of the Congo lived in an anarchist society with no leaders with power or authority. They were characterised as very good-natured and quite fearless. There sense of humour was irresistible. They would hold onto each other, slap their sides, go through physical contortions and if something was particularly funny they would roll on the ground laughing with tears running down their cheeks. The only individual with a special position was the camp clown who’s function was to be a buffer between disputant parties and settle disputes nonviolently. This was done by distracting attention from the original disagreement, taking the blame on himself or ridiculing both parties. However, the clown never passed judgement or exerted authority. As a result of his antics and ability to laugh at himself he was popular and able to rescue himself from opprobrium.80

The eastern martial art aikido is a metaphor for the technique of using humour to diffuse confrontations. Aikido is an eastern martial art used to prohibit aggression and invite a positive response to ‘attacks’. The essence is to go with the flow of the attack. The approach emphasises harmony and blending rather then discord to defeat the opponent. The use of aikido honors the direction in which the attacker is going. The key is position, timing and focus of energies. An example of this is highlighted by a teacher and a group of students conspiring to knock a book off her desk at 10.18 in the morning. They did this and the teacher had several options on how to respond. She could counterattack, ignore it or use humour as aikido by

Laughter Is a Transcendental Experience

Laughter’s role is thought to be devine. The pieces of pleasantry are thought to have a secret charm to heal the spirit.41 It is the soul’s weapon in the fight for self preservation. Laughter is a trascendent experience it moves beyond words and is mystical.42 It rises above the situation creating a distance between the condition and itself.43 This state of Being is considered high indifference, objectively removed from consensus reality models and able to appreciate the humour of the human condition. Herman Hesse states that the highest endeavour is where humour attains the impossible, an ability to live in the world but not of it, and yet, to stand above it. In its highest forms it gives the power of sifting the true from the false.44 The spirit experiences itself freed from passion and exists in the here and now.45 Through the power of humour an exalted worldly wisdom can result.46 The universal aspiration is liberty, true freedom of thought. 47

Mohandas Gandhi

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”


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