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Subject:

RE: Lamp-family photograph

From:

AF701300 <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sun, 28 Nov 1999 14:47:35 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (160 lines)

Hi Robert...

	Thank you for your reply, I shall try and answer your questions as
best I can.
	You asked if it was me who perceived incongruity or the subject.
When I talk of incongruity in terms of this picture it is from the subjects
point of view, someone who would just happen on the image.
	There are many separate elements within the picture: the curvacious
lamp, the plain lamp, the baby carriage, the table lamp, the open area or
public park.  We can find a network of relationships between all these
elements that the subject will encounter.  The table lamp for example, has a
relationship with the baby carriage that is incongruous. Then the
combination of the table lamp and the baby carriage has a relationship with
the public park. The relationship of the floor lamps to the public park and
to the baby carriage is incongruous also.  (There are more but these are
just to illustrate my point). Individually, these elements have complex
incongruous relationships with each other.  My approach is to simplify this
somewhat into two main elements within the picture:

	1) The public park.
	2) The group of objects that makes up the lamp family.

However, this simplification cannot take place before the subject has gone
through a process of puzzle solving.  The understanding of the objects as
'family' is the result of this puzzle solving, meaning the initial reaction
to the image before this conclusion is reached, would be of incongruity.
	On first reading the image, the subject will perceive incongruous
links between all these subjects individually.  This group of objects
doesn't make much sense to the subject in this particular enviroment.  The
lamps can be understood in relationship with each other, but their
juxtaposition with the baby carriage and a public park creates confusion.  
	It is the recognition of the family situation that groups these
objects together, and divides the image into its two main elements: lamp
family and public park.  The conclusion of 'family unit' makes sense of the
image because we recognise the situation. Mother and father taking baby for
a walk in the park is a situation that is commonly seen and recognisable
(based on past experience).  The objects as a group becomes signifier of the
family unit which, in relation with the context of a public park, is
congruous. 
	The falling into place of the elements acts as resolution of the
image because it makes sense of the initial confusion but also continues the
incongruity (because the family are still a collection of lamps!). So, we
have, in effect, a punchline in which there is congruity and incongruity,
plausibility and implausability.  It is with this understanding with which
the humour lies.

	Sorry if I have repeated things I have already said, but it helps me
understand what I'm on about as well!!  
	It would be really very useful to me if you could give me a summary
of your analysis by Tuesday...I know this may be rather short notice, but if
I could include your interpretations of this image in my dissertation (which
is in on Wednesday!!), with your permission, I think it would make for
interesting reading.  Perhaps you could give me a short summary of your
thoughts on my analysis so I would be able to include them. If you have
time, then it would be really great but if you are busy, then don't worry!
Yours,
	Philip.
	
> ----------
> From: 	Robert L. Latta[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Reply To: 	[log in to unmask]
> Sent: 	25 November 1999 06:10
> To: 	[log in to unmask]
> Subject: 	Lamp-family photograph
> 
> <<File: lamp.jpg.jpe>>
> To Philip Welding
> November 25, 1999 (2:50 PM JT)
> Dear Philip,
>   Thanks very much for sending me a humorous photograph with an analysis
> of
> the humor in terms of incongruity.
>   The photograph (for anyone who might read this but doesn't have access
> to
> it) shows two floor lamps (which you call standard lamps), one relatively
> curvacious with an ornate shade suggestive  of a skirt and the other
> straight and plain, standing, one on each side, over a baby carriage
> (which
> you call a push chair), that holds a little table lamp, outdoors on a fine
> day in a large open area, a public park (though I wouldn't have recognized
> it as such on my own). In short, it's a lamp-family of three, mother,
> father, and baby, out for a walk in the park. Have I misdescribed
> something
> or left something out? If so, please correct me!
>   I want to proceed in an orderly way, and so, before I comment on your
> analysis, I want to be quite sure that I understand it. You begin: "Here
> is
> an example of one of my pictures that I see as incongruous. The elements
> within the image, standard lamps, a push chair and a table lamp positioned
> in a public park, create what I would describe as incongruous
> juxtapositions. The placing of these particular objects into this
> particular
> scene is not something that correlates with specific codes and
> conventions,
> surrounding their individual decoding: Separately they would make sense,
> together they are incongruous."
>   Here, I have three questions:
>   1) Is it that you perceive incongruity in this photograph, or is it that
> the subject perceives incongruity?
>   This distinction is important, because your viewpoint as a humor
> theorist
> bent on analysis is very different from that of a subject who simply
> happens
> on the photograph and enjoys the humor in it.
>   2) How many inconguities do you perceive/does the subject perceive?
>   You wrote "incongruous juxtapositions," in the plural. That's why I
> wonder.
>   3) For each incongruity that you perceive/the subject perceives, what
> are
> the terms of that incongruity?
>   One might say that the one floor lamp is incongruous with the park, or
> the
> other floor lamp with the park, or the table lamp with the park, or the
> table lamp with the baby carriage, or the three lamps on the one hand with
> the baby carriage on the other, or the assemblage of three lamps and baby
> carriage with the park, or the entire scene on the one hand with certain
> "codes and conventions" (please specify!) on the other, or all of these
> things, or something else. I'm  not sure what incongruity or incongruities
> you have in mind.
>   Further on, you wrote: "The initial incongruity is enveloped in the
> understanding of the 'situation' represented and is therefore made sense
> of,
> in the context of a humorous photograph."
>   My question:
>   4) Do you intend to say simply that the initial incongruity is resolved,
> or do you intend to say more than that, and if so, precisely what?
>   The trouble is just that this sentence is a little obscure to me.
>   Otherwise, I think that I understand your analysis. I look forward to
> hearing from you again.
> Yours,
> Robert
> 
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