Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dancing With Demons

Suki & Demon
Just for a change from The Book, here's a link to the text of the keynote address I delivered at the Cartoon Congress in Nepal. This version, as it appears in Himal Southasian's December issue, is a good deal more coherent than what I said at the Congress!


Anonymous said...

from http://discovermagazine.com/2008/jul/27-laughter-may-outlive-humans/article_view?b_start:int=1&-C=

(obtained from an article by jim holt in discover)

Laughter has long been viewed as a so-called luxury reflex, one that serves no obvious evolutionary purpose. In recent years, though, practitioners of the art of evolutionary psychology have been more imaginative in coming up with Darwinian rationales. One of the more seductive comes from the neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran of the University of California at San Diego, who has advanced what might be called the false-alarm theory of laughter. A seemingly threatening situation presents itself; you go into fight-or-flight mode; the threat proves spurious; you alert your (genetically close-knit) social group to the absence of actual danger by emitting a stereotyped vocalization —one that is amplified as it passes contagiously from member to member.

Once the mechanism of laughter was set in place by evolution, the theory goes, it could be hijacked for other purposes: the expression of contempt for out-groups (as the superiority theory of humor claims) or the ventilation of forbidden sexual impulses (the relief theory of humor). But at the core of the original false-alarm mechanism of laughter is incongruity: the incongruity of a grave threat revealing itself to be trivial—­or, as the philosopher Immanuel Kant (an advocate of the incongruity theory) put it, “the sudden transformation of a strained expectation into nothing.” Incongruity is arguably the primeval kernel of laughter. And therefore, by the Copernican principle, it is likely to be the kernel of laughter in the Year Million. gt

Marginalien said...

An odd and utterly meaningless side-note: V.S.Ramachandran and I happen to have attended the same very weird school in Bangkok (Ruam Rudee) -- not as contemporaries, but I saw in the dedication message of one of his books that he thanked his teachers at that institution. Amusing coincidence, then, that he advanced a theory of humour with at least a trace of similarity to my extremely casual effort ...

gt said...

oh! i found your hypotheses rather penetr8ing..... interesting th@ the 2 of you drank from the same fountain - even though not at the same time. i won't venture to ask who got their first but be assured th@ he is a brilliant neuroscientist as much as you are accomplished in many of the fine arts yourself.... reminds me of escher's work - who had the "vision" to do those woodcuts and then subsequently chemists found out that his work embodied many of the profound complex and abstract notions in the field of symmetry as it pertains to chemistry.. gt