On Humour - Simon Critchley (3)
It is a very common notion that the study of humour is a dry and boring thing to attempt. While that is true, it is not necessarily a bad thing. We wouldn't expect hydrodynamics to be wet, or neuroscience to be clever, so why should humour theory have to be funny, or even just entertaining? It should, however, have substance, and here most attempts are lacking, this book being no exception. It is little more than a collection of quotes and tidbits from humour theorists over the centuries, with a lot of the name dropping which is so oddly popular in the humanities. "This is what X means, when he says Y" seems to take on the force and role of a stringent logical argument, and rather than being a mepotistic anecdote, it's supposed to illustrate something deep. But I digress.
The main theses the reader is left with in the end are that the highest moral value o slaughter is achieved when it's reflective; when we laugh at ourselves, and that humour is the uniquely human ability to counter the absurdity of physical existence with a psychological distancing movement, and a mocking finger pointed at the physical from afar. Which, of course, is just reactionary balderdash.