Thursday, June 4, 2020

Self irony and laughter

There are moments when we take ourselves too seriously.  Sometimes the best defense against absurdity both in our personal and political lives, is to laugh at it. The antidote to our zeal for truths is just to picture our place in the universe; we occupy such an infinitesimally small dot that taking life too seriously simply makes no sense at all.  Our lives are a sheer coincidence in a long series of coincidences which probably includes both sexual blunders and astronomical collisions or near misses.  In Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, William of Baskerville in his debate with Jorge of Burgos argues that laughter helps us “to undermine the false authority of an absurd proposition that offends reason.”  For Willian, “the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.” Because he made room for doubt, William had the intellectual flexibility to accommodate new ideas. By contrast, Jorge's zealotry and “insane passion for the truth” left him so resistant to any challenges to his worldview that he preferred to destroy all the books he held dear rather than to allow Aristotle's subversive book on comedy to come to light.

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