Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Laughter Of Truth

There are definitely two types of laughter; a laughter or truth and a laughter of ridicule. The former is a positive emotion that most people experience as a reaction and the latter is a negative reaction that is usually formed and directed against something. It is true that surrealism has always had a relationship with humour, and it is also true that the relationship has sometimes incorrectly been seen as negative because of the small minority who use the laughter of ridicule against an artwork with which they disagree. However the laughter of truth is not a criticism but a compliment. The finest parts of Monty Python's Flying Circus encourage laughter through truth because that television programme contains great artworks.

Laughter is an inherent part of the human mind and is part of what it means to be human and to learn. The laughter of ridicule is used by males as an dominant aggressive gesture against other males, and the men who make such laughter are usually exposing their own inadequacies because they detect a challenge to their perceived superiority. The laughter of truth is a social reaction designed to create bonds, to affirm understanding and friendship.

Amusement releases endorphins which help create cellular connections and takes place as a form of enlightenment. In the case of a surrealist artwork the laughter indicates a truth and to some extent all good artworks should provoke that amusement. It is often incorrectly perceived that a "strange modern" artwork that provokes laughter is a bad artwork when in fact the reverse is true. All good artworks should contain an element of truth and therefore always contain an element of the laughter of truth. That amusing feeling of truth is the feeling I described as "mimsy" in another treatise.

Like pornography a joke is transient and wears thin quickly because the joy of learning can take place only once. An unexpected truth can create that exact feeling of discovery and joy. It is found in surrealist art, that same as the joy of a new joke, the creation of the laughter of truth. Sooner or later the laughter subsides because the truth is learned, not because the power of the artwork has faded. A truth is eternal but learning is transient.

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