Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Venerable Yorghe

In The Name of the Rose, a great Umberto Eco book and one of my favorite films, one of the villains is a blind old monk, the Venerable Yorghe, who hides in the library the lost second volume of Aristotle's Poetics. Why? Because it encourages laughter. And laughter, VY believes, can eventually undo the sacred order of things.

He was not wrong.

Although I have always had a depressive region in my soul (see previous posting), I have also been blessed with a sense of humor. I love to laugh and I love people who make me laugh. As I grow older, though, I do become a bit more discriminating in the kinds of humor I appreciate. And being a conservative, there are actually a few things I would like to conserve (unlike my liberal brethren, who seem most attached to a few social programs and some recent legislation. Oh, and a boatload of bad ideas).

There is a kind of humor, appropriate or at least predictable in adolescents, which finds almost anything prior to or claiming priority over the adolescent's turbulent ego risible and contemptible. Been there. However, from the perspective of this grey-headed righty's perch, a lot of that has now become canonized and dominant because it is seen as edgy and transgressive is actually developmentally arrested teenagery.  Jon Stewart. And the execrable Bill Maher.

But there are some parts of the world that could use a bit of humor. To humanize them. I am thinking of the Religion of Peace. It takes itself so seriously that you will search a long time before you find Muslims joking about Islam. They might joke about themselves, but about their religion?  Hard to find any evidence. When to-me completely-unfunnyman Albert Brooks did a 2005 film called Looking for Comedy In the Muslim World, he had to shoot it entirely in India. No Muslim country found him funny, either.

Here's a Catholic joke, one of zillions, but mild and printable. In my twenty years in monkery, there was, believe me, no shortage of jokes, either dirty, religious, or both. If the Mohammadans ever start producing stuff like this, I might begin to believe that there is some hope for them. Till then, I'll keep praying to Our Lady of Lepanto and Santiago Matamoros.
An Irishman hesitatingly confesses adultery with his neighbor's wife. Priest asks, "Was it Mrs. Murphy?" "No.", "Mrs. O'Leary?" "No, father." "Mrs. Brennan?". "No." Priest gives up and completes the ritual. At the pub, a friend asks the guy, "Well, did you get your absolution?" He replies, "Yes I did, and a few new leads as well!"


Leah said...

Along with the Jews who know how to make fun of ourselves as well. Unless we become liberal - then the laughter is gone.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the cipher for Borges wasn't wrong, but seems to me he wasn't right too. In the greatness era of a culture or nomos, laughter builds, doesn't it? Homer. The Old Testament. Saturn the first of the planets rides in with a Saturnine message of comedy comtempt. Luther's Saturnine jokes, which sometimes are even witty. So also Calvin's Saturnine humour. Perhaps if Loyola had put something of this in the Spiritual Exercises the S.J. would not have been totally vulnerable to Pascal's Provincial Letters. He probably ought to have borrow'd something of the saturnine levity of Machiavelli, from whom he is alleged to have borrow'd some other stuff.

In the post-founding, routinization (sc decay) era of Protestantism, comedy seems to have been thrown out, abandon'd to "this world."

Great Saturnine comedy can appear also at the end of a nomos's routinization, especially Aristophanes at the end of Greece, and the outcome of Plato in the philosophies of the unhappy consciousness (stoicism, cynicism, epicureanism etc etc, who do nothing but take youngsters out of the world and have nothing to do but await new cultural stuff to interpret [Acts 17]) and the transmogrification of Plato and Homer and Sophocles into Culture or Paideia as a philosophic leisure activity for the Aristotelian gentleman.

As Luther says of karmic attribution, »It makes a difference whose* ox is gored«.
*sc who's, who estins, has estin'd the aleph

Anonymous said...

"There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious." - Ayatollah Khomeini.

USMaleSF said...

Maybe the cipher for Borges wasn't wrong, but seems to me he wasn't right too.

Yes, which is why I wrote "wasn't wrong" rather than "right".

Anonymous said...

You know me. Always the flatfoot clumsily bringing out the esoteric meaning that should have gone without saying.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I have to doubt the authenticity of that quotation from Ayatollah Khomeini.

I mean, if ever implemented, such an interpretation of Islam would spell the end of Eid al-Fitr as we know it.

USMaleSF said...

True re Khomeini, but 1. having
Gods apostle forbid something and getting all the disciples to follow it are,as u and history know, two differnt things, and 2. He only has authority for the Shia, who are maybe 10-15 percent of the Ummah.

Anonymous said...

Mr USMaleSF, yes, let's walk on the sunni side of the street! You've given all us multi-faith dialoguers new cause to hope that dominion founded grace-free in neo-Islamic Sharia will have its lighter moments.

1. Orientation change by Freudian psychoanalysis, funny.
2. Americanist Don't Ask Don't Tell, funnier
3. neo-Islamic "What homosexuality?", funniest?

Anonymous said...

Sunni-the-Pooh will have to tell children that during Ramadan he likes to have a little saumthing about eleven o'clock in the morning.

P.S. Pooh sc mouth js6310. But speaking of snacking, any reflections on the similarity of iftar and fitra?

Anonymous said...

Proof that even a great guffaw may be halal comes to us thru Mo's favorite moppet:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:

When the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her.

He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad the Prophet of Allah is reported to have guffaw'd. But the story doesn't bear comparison with, for example, Homer's encouraging us to laugh along with Athena as she scoffs in amusement while Aphrodite, who had thought to take part in the war, goes a-weeping to Zeus for solace in complaint that her little finger got pinch'd.

The Quran seems Saturnine enough. There may be such comedy in the Quran but they are presented obscurely. So also in the New Testament (especially in the Apocalypse of John, I would guess).

In contrast, we can rather readily see yhwh's eyes roll upon perceiving that the sons of God use the daughters (bet) of man for houses (bet) of cultural dualistic mystagogy interpretations; yhwh looks over and declares in an aside to the amanuensis "J" »You know, my spirit will not strive with man indefinitely [for the olam]. I am going to limit his days to six twenties.« (Genesis 6:3)

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