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HUMOUR-RESEARCH  December 2008

HUMOUR-RESEARCH December 2008

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Subject:

Re: Re; Humor and not humor

From:

Jim Lyttle <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Humour-Research <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 1 Dec 2008 10:32:28 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (143 lines)

Nice! Now we're getting somewhere.

We sure prefer to make fun of Villains rather than those with whom we  
empathize. But humor seems to also require a mental twist or something  
similar. I like to see the Villain get shot, beaten, foiled, et  
cetera. That certainly makes me feel good, but it is not humor unless  
there is also that twist.

It is not that humor "amounts to incongruity" or "is nothing other  
than superiority." Certainly it is not that simple.

There seems to be (1) an undeniable emotional element like mirth,  
pleasure, or something similar - along with (2) a cognitive element  
best described by Victor Raskin. Both seem necessary, and either of  
them can exist alone in non-humorous situations.

I really want to be sure our definition rules out non-funny things.  
Tickling and roller coasters lack the cognitive element and become, in  
my estimation, fun rather than funny. The AHA experience has the  
cognitive element AND generates pleasure, but there is something about  
the kind or degree of emotion that is lacking. Again, it is fun but  
not necessarily funny.

If we specify the cognitive element well and specify the emotional  
element well, will we have the necessary and sufficient elements (or  
at least a very solid starting point)?

A theory of ANYTHING divides that thing into its (mutually exclusive  
and collectively exhaustive) parts and then describes their  
relationship to one another. I think we are just beginning to chip  
away at it.

Quoting Jessica Milner Davis <[log in to unmask]>:

> Ah, the Big Question. Well, I'll have a go and learn a lot from  
> everyone's responses.
>
> To me, "humour" is a combination of emotion and thought experienced  
> by someone in response to a stimulus (which can be external or  
> self-generated -- eg a sudden thought/memory).  The  
> humour-experience can have various "flavours" or varieties. Whether  
> it occurs, and its type, is affected by both personological and  
> environmental factors, interacting with the nature of the stimulus  
> itself (which can be accidental, as well as deliberately  
> created/retailed). The medium of communication and the skill(or lack  
> of it) of the communicator also affect the experience (as in comic  
> acting or re-telling a joke well or badly).
>
> But, all the above skirts around defining the parameters of what  
> kind of experience the humour-experience is.  I agree that the  
> emotional part of it is (at least to some extent) the experience of  
> pleasure.  But to what extent?  That's why I raised the question as  
> to whether pleasantness has to dominate or outweigh negative or  
> painful experiences.  Maybe it just has to occur after the others or  
> be more long-lasting.
>
> Jessica
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "KENNETH CARPENTER" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 1:34 PM
> Subject: Re: [HUMOUR-RESEARCH] Re; Humor and not humor
>
>
> Jessica,
>
> Yes, I agree with all you say, but to me there is still a question  
> of definition. How much of a given catagory is humor?
>
> The actual sense or flash of haha or aha by the person experiencing  
> the "humor" is pleasant. Is that humor?
> Would you say that the other combining elements are not humor but  
> but a composite experience that includes humor . Or is humor the  
> combination of pleasant with neutral and/or unpleasant elements?  
> Bitter irony befalling a book character whom we are prepared to  
> oppose may be humor to a reader though certainly not to the  
> antagonist it befalls. Disgust humor may be funny because the  
> authority of the "ettiquette police" is attacked by the one enjoying  
> the humor. ie. the authority figure is pompous. The disgusting  
> "punch" element is funny just as a pie in the face is funny (but, of  
> course, repulsive).
>
> Is humor the whole thing: the unbalanced situation and the element  
> that brings it into a defused perspective to the recipient of the  
> pleasure?
>
> Ken
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Jessica Milner Davis <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 7:22:19 PM
> Subject: Re: Re; Humor and not humor
>
> Kenneth, would you agree to rephrase as "pleasant at least in part"?
>
> Bitter irony is still humour in my book, even if the cutting edge bites
> deep. Similarly for so-called "disgust humour". I'm not sure if the
> pleasantness needs to dominate, but it certainly can combine with
> non-pleasant emotions and thoughts.
>
> Jessica
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "KENNETH CARPENTER" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 10:50 AM
> Subject: Re: [HUMOUR-RESEARCH] Re; Humor and not humor
>
>
> Do you agree that if the experience is not pleasant then it is not humor?
> Ken
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: "Jim Lyttle, Ph..D." <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 2:04:04 PM
> Subject: Re: Re; Humor and not humor
>
> Tickling does not count as humor.
>
> A "humourous situation per se" is precisely what we aim to define.
>
> Although the quest is difficult, we all have a sense of what you meant
> when you referred to a "humorous situation per se" and that is
> precisely what we are here to define: not fun, not laughter, not
> thrills, not joy, not dendrite firings ...
>



------------------
JIM LYTTLE, Ph.D.
139 E HIGH ST APT 9
POTTSTOWN, PA 19464
BB: (610) 850-5050
.
.
.
.
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