It is possible, and in fact likely, that a comedy will be named after a general noun — The Sleepwalker or The Bridegroom, where as a tragedy will be named after a proper noun — Hamlet, Othello An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, found here.
We shall disdain nothing we have seen. Humans tend to laugh when they see the effect of a machine within the human body. But when we are fully aware that the body is a weigh, a burden for the soul, the situation is comic. Can it then fail to throw light for us on the way that human imagination works, and more particularly social, collective, and popular imagination?
How, indeed, should it come about that this particular logical relation, as soon as it is perceived, contracts, expands and shakes our limbs, whilst all other relations leave the body unaffected? Still, this reverberation cannot go on for ever. It has a method in its madness.
The first essay is made up of three parts: Comedy is about types, recognisable and easily identifiable types who act out their behaviours according to their type. A sailor expecting, longing to see land, but only more sea? Hence the mind needs to break with fashion to revive and to note the comedy of the situation, not to create it, Bergson insists.
However, the comic is not only based upon unusual situations, but also upon characters and individuals. Comedy tends to deal with the general. This was anything but boring, though. In addition, when we make fun of somebody for one of his vices, it is because the individual is unaware of his own vice while we are aware of it.
A rock that positioned so that appears to defy gravity could be something to laugh at, an absurd expanse might cause one to laugh. Thus laughter forces people to be better and to suppress their vices, because laughter makes them be conscious of them.
However spontaneous it seems, laughter always implies a kind of secret freemasonry, or even complicity, with other laughers, real or imaginary. A landscape cannot be a source of laughter, and when humans make fun of animals, it is often because they recognize some human behaviour in them.
But humans are funny when they are least human. The source of the comic is the presence of a rigidity in life. Thus, the comic is not a mere pleasure of the intellect, it is a human and social activity; it has a social meaning. This intelligence, however, must always remain in touch with other intelligences.
This is why Bergson asserts that laughter has a moral role, it is a factor of uniformity of behaviours, it eliminates ludicrous and eccentric attitudes: To understand laughter, we must put it back into its natural environment, which is society, and above all must we determine the utility of its function, which is a social one.
However trivial it may be, we shall treat it with the respect due to life. How many human actions would stand a similar test? It was reprinted in by the Presses Universitaires de Franceon the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bergson.
And not just in slapstick humour, but also in verbal and situational humour too.
It seems reasonable to laugh at these moments. I think Bergson sees this human quality with his observation. And this was the crowning moment of the essay for me. What, now, is the particular point on which their attention will have to be concentrated, and what will here be the function of intelligence?
The comic will come into being, it appears, whenever a group of men concentrate their attention on one of their number, imposing silence on their emotions and calling into play nothing but their intelligence. Think of Hamlet and three hundred years of psychological arguments about his endlessly complex character.
You may laugh at an animal, but only because you have detected in it some human attitude or expression. His ambition is also to have a better knowledge of society, of the functioning of human imagination and of collective imagination, but also of art and life.Laughter is a collection of three essays by French philosopher Henri Bergson, first published in It was written in French, the original title is Le Rire.
Essai sur la signification du comique ("Laughter, an essay on the meaning of the comic"). Preface. Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic By Henri Bergson, member of the Institute Professor at the College de France Authorised Translation by Cloudesley Brereton L.
es L. (Paris), M.A. (Cantab) and Fred Rothwell b.a.
(London). Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic Henri Bergson, Fred Rothwell Snippet view - Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic Henri Bergson No preview available - Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic Henri Bergson No preview available - Bergson's writings were acclaimed not only in France and throughout the learned world.
In he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. In defiance of the Nazis after their conquest of France, Bergson insisted on wearing a yellow star to show his solidarity with other French Jews. It is through not understanding the importance of this double fact that the comic has been looked upon as a mere curiosity in which the mind finds amusement, and laughter itself as a strange, isolated phenomenon, without any bearing on the rest of human activity.
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