As usual, I’m in and out of books, certain ones pulling stronger. During my morning time, if I’m not writing, I’m reading. This week I’ve been pulled in different directions, each book shouting, read me, read me. Whom to pick, whom to pick? I love the writing of Milan Kundera. When I read his words, I feel transported and he pushes me to think. There are certain of his books that are more difficult for me to enter because of the politics and the satire that won’t resonate the same as it does for someone from his Mother Country. Nevertheless, I gain much through his penetrating mind, and his beautiful and lyrical writing. Right now, his book that keeps calling me is, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. In fact, laughter is an activity that I cherish. Laughter and hilarity make life interesting and the ability to see the comedic in any circumstance is healing.
I’ve recently come upon a book that I was not looking for. I think I was looking for a book on language and this one came up as one that others bought. It was free and had favorable reviews. It’s not a book so much as it is an essay on laughter. I’m on page 27 of 99 by Kindle standards, so I have a ways to go, but so far—through its denseness—I am having many connections—stragglers that appear to me as little lights stringing together. The essay is titled, “Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic” by Henri Bergson. It makes me realize how much I see the comedic in life and how especially at work, even when I have my occasional moments of emotional sensitivity and overreaction, most of the time I am laughing to myself and feel that I am watching a sitcom. And often I laugh at myself too. This gets me through the day, to bring this element to the often mundane tasks of office work. I’m not complaining, just pointing out that I make the most of my time and work best when I am surrounded by laughter, even if I’m the only one laughing inside. Now, this isn’t to say that I sit and make fun of people or laugh at them all day, rather if someone has an aspect to their personality that arises often. For example, an office mate that shares the space will overhear a conversation and will insert himself into it loudly and cut off whomever was talking. For some co-workers this is an annoyance. Objectively speaking, it’s probably slightly rude, but I don’t think he’s aware of it. And here is what Bergson has to say about the comic character, “…it is really a kind of automatism that makes us laugh—an automatism, as we have already remarked, closely akin to mere absentmindedness. To realize this more fully, it need only be noted that a comic character is generally comic in proportion to his ignorance of himself. The comic person is unconscious” (pg. 8). Ultimately, I have no problem with his frequent intrusions. It offers variety and interest to my day and it makes me laugh every time because it’s who he is and for me there is hilarity to this automatic behavior and the way that it physically plays out. Bergson further states, “to imitate any one is to bring out the element of automatism he has allowed to creep into his person. And as this is the very essence of the ludicrous, it is no wonder that imitation gives rise to laughter.” When you are in a situation day in and day out, you can either find the horrible all the time, or you can do the opposite.
I have also been in touch with my childhood enjoyment of imitating and occasionally, I do imitate and am able to invoke these moments by sound and physicality. It doesn’t happen often and it’s very spontaneous when it does. In this case, I feel that it’s harmless. This particular co-worker has a strong personality and is quite comfortable with who he is.
Now, as I think of imitating myself, I laugh. A few months back, my significant other was playing around with our iPad and when I came out of the bedroom, he was filming me. When we played back the film, I was in stitches with laughter. I didn’t realize what he was doing, even though it should have been obvious, so in the film clip my eyes kept darting back and forth and I just had so many little odd body movements as I stood there, looking here, looking there and asking, “what are you doing,” before I figured it out.
Before the music started and before I knew I was going to write this morning, what brought me here to the page was the “Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.” I was tossing a few old pamphlets into the recycle pile and was about to put the Trader Joe’s flyer there, when I realized I hadn’t read through it yet. I am always entertained when I read it. I flipped through quickly and landed on an image of what I assume is supposed to be a Greek man speaking with his hand held out in discourse. The caption reads, “I’m happy to have a dialogue with you about the yogurt, but in the end, philosophically speaking, it’s all Greek to me.” It may be the frame of mind I’m in today, but it made me laugh. I put the high-energy dance CD on, started dancing, grabbed my laptop; kept dancing; grabbed The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, set it by the laptop—and while I was getting the book, I saw “Goddesses Knowledge Cards,” which I discovered over the weekend when I began my declutter frenzy. I thought I had gotten rid of them. I’m so glad I did not. Still dancing, I shuffled and spread the cards out, closed my eyes and selected one: Pele the “fiery Hawaiian volcano goddess.” Perfect card for the day. “She reminds us that even in the midst of fiery eruption there is creation and new life.”