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Heinlein Readers Discussion Group
Thursday 06/17/2004 9:00 P.M. EDT.
Humor In Heinlein

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From: "pixelmeow" <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com>
Subject: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 11:24 AM
Oscagne asked if I would take the lead on this one since it's my question. I need to re-read the book between now and the chat, a week hence (IIRC), so this message is really to get the conversation going on a basic question of mine. (Osc, when *is* the next chat?)

First off, a definition.  From Merriam-Webster Online,

Humor: 
  3   a : that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous 	
	  or absurdly incongruous 
      b : the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or 		
	  appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous 
      c : something that is or is designed to be comical or amusing

synonym see WIT:
  3   a : astuteness of perception or judgment : ACUMEN 
      b : the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to 	
	  illuminate or amuse 
      c (1) : a talent for banter or persiflage 
        (2) : a witty utterance or exchange 
      d : clever or apt humor

synonyms WIT, HUMOR, IRONY, SARCASM, SATIRE, REPARTEE mean a mode of
expression intended to arouse amusement. 
1)  WIT suggests the power to evoke laughter by remarks showing verbal
    felicity or ingenuity and swift perception especially of the
    incongruous <a playful wit>. 
2)  HUMOR implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical,
    and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without
    bitterness <a sense of humor>. 
3)  IRONY applies to a manner of expression in which the intended
    meaning is the opposite of what is seemingly expressed <the irony
    of the title>. 
4)  SARCASM applies to expression frequently in the form of irony that
    is intended to cut or wound <given to heartless sarcasm>. 
5)  SATIRE applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct,
    doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more
    often through irony, parody, or caricature <a satire on the
    Congress>.
6)  REPARTEE implies the power of answering quickly, pointedly, or
    wittily <a dinner guest noted for repartee>. 

You all may remember that I asked this question a little while back and David Silver gave me a wonderful answer. But the more I think on it, the more I want to talk about it.

My question is this: is "humor" universal? Is it possible for (for instance) a Vulcan, if he/she were to exist, to *really* not comprehend humor? Is it possible for that Vulcan, if exposed to Earth humor, to laugh at it, or is humor hard wired to humans? And if humor is hard wired, does that mean it is possible that humor for one culture is totally unfathomable to someone of another culture? If humor is NOT hard wired, and there is some alien person or entity who comes to Earth, could that person "get" our humor? This is unanswerable, of course, since we have no aliens to ask. But the possibility must be considered (at least for me) for the word "universal" to apply, and since it's MY question, the word does apply.

So. VMS is raised on Mars, where humor does not exist, so he doesn't get it when he sees it on Earth. All the way until the middle (or so) of the book, when he sees the monkey, he doesn't get it. Then he sees how the monkeys treat each other, and he goes into gales of laughter that last for quite some time. This is the basis of my question. I still have to read the book again to flesh this out for myself, it's been a few years since I've read it, so bear with me.

I have read other works by other authors (particularly, Robert Jordan) where people in one culture have one kind of humor and people in another culture have a different kind of humor. Person A from culture X tells joke to Person B from culture Y, and B totally doesn't get it. A lot of people don't get British humor. I laugh myself silly at Monty Python's Holy Grail, and amazingly, so does my 8.5 year old daughter. I don't know any examples of humor from other cultures, such as Eastern European, or Middle Eastern, or what have you, so I can't compare for myself. But these examples serve to keep my curiosity going, and that's why David's post (even though it was wonderful) doesn't completely answer my question.

I would also like to bring in other works of RAH if necessary to flesh this out. SiaSL is just what started this for me.

Okay, there it is, the lead-off. Have at it. :-)

-- 
~teresa~
 AFH Barwench

  ^..^  "Never try to outstubborn a cat."  Robert A. Heinlein  ^..^
  http://pixelmeow.com/  http://www.heinleinsociety.org/
     http://pixelmeow.com/Book_Exchange/index.htm
           http://pixelmeow.com/forum/
      aim: pixelmeow msn: pixelmeow@passport.com


From: "David M. Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 1:23 PM

In article <b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com>,
 pixelmeow <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote:

> My question is this: is "humor" universal?  Is it possible for (for
> instance) a Vulcan, if he/she were to exist, to *really* not
> comprehend humor?  Is it possible for that Vulcan, if exposed to Earth
> humor, to laugh at it, or is humor hard wired to humans?  And if humor
> is hard wired, does that mean it is possible that humor for one
> culture is totally unfathomable to someone of another culture?  If
> humor is NOT hard wired, and there is some alien person or entity who
> comes to Earth, could that person "get" our humor?  This is
> unanswerable, of course, since we have no aliens to ask.  But the
> possibility must be considered (at least for me) for the word
> "universal" to apply, and since it's MY question, the word does apply.
> 

That's an interesting, unanswerable question, today, as you note. We won't know until we find out by contact with a non-sapient intelligence.

[snip questions about Michael Valentine Smith and SiaSL]
> 
> I would also like to bring in other works of RAH if necessary to flesh
> this out.  SiaSL is just what started this for me.

There's another Michael in Heinlein's works who is recognized as sapient only by his use of humor. Michael Holmes from _The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress_ is recognized by Manny as sapient only after he begins inventing jokes -- indeed, the lunar revolution can be seen as created by him only as a joke, as Gwen explains to Colin Richard in Cat. It might be that Heinlein would argue that to be recognized as human only those who recognize the humor in and actually play jokes on one another qualify.

Of course, it's also arguable that Alex Hergensheimer's deity, Yahweh, in _Job: A Comedy of Justice_, is duly familiar with jokes: he argues that he's fulfilled all the prophesies when challenged about the artistic integrity of his creations by Mr. Koshchei, a certain wry humor of the recognized practical jokester existing in that answer. Humans of course probably have created all their gods in their own image.

-- 
David M. Silver www.heinleinsociety.org
"The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!"
Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA '29, Lt.(jg), USN, R'td, 1907-88


From: "Oscagne" <Oscagne@ev1.net>
Subject: RAH-AIM Readers Group chat meeting-- "Humor in SiaSL" -- June 17, 19.
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 2:30 PM

"pixelmeow" <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote in message
news:b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com...
> Oscagne asked if I would take the lead on this one since it's my
> question.  I need to re-read the book between now and the chat, a week
> hence (IIRC), so this message is really to get the conversation going
> on a basic question of mine.  (Osc, when *is* the next chat?)

I was going to try to get back to once every two weeks, as somebody (Dee?) had mentioned missing the regularity. So let's do the next one 6/17 and 6/19.

I'll take a good close look at your lead-off when I get a chance, but I have to leave for work in about six minutes.

-- 
Oscagne, High Priest of Skeptics and Cynics
wanna read a story?  http://users4.ev1.net/~mcgrew/mss
or see my goofy website?
http://users4.ev1.net/~mcgrew/webpage/home.htm

The next Heinlein Readers Group chats will be:
"Humor in SiaSL" on
Thursday, June 17 at 8:00 p.m. central U.S. and
Saturday, June 19 at 4:00 p.m. central U.S
See http://heinleinsociety.org/readersgroup/index.html#info
to participate.


From: "David M. Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 3:17 PM

In article <b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com>,
 pixelmeow <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote:

> You all may remember that I asked this question a little while back
> and David Silver gave me a wonderful answer.  But the more I think on
> it, the more I want to talk about it.
> 
> My question is this: is "humor" universal?

Just to refresh my recollection, I googled up the old thread in which Teresa asked and I gave my more or less 'wonderful' answer. It may not be all that wonderful, but 'tis interesting, including the comments it drew, and the thread (not the initial post) is mercifully short (for us). Here:

http://tinyurl.com/27hgh
Of course, it never did answer Pix's basic question: is "humor" universal?

-- 
David M. Silver www.heinleinsociety.org
"The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!"
Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA '29, Lt.(jg), USN, R'td, 1907-88


From: David M. Silver (ag.plusone@verizon.net)
Subject: Re: [LONG] Topic for David Silver
Date: 2004-03-31 09:06:56 PST

In article <5517d1ee30e51e28d18dacc306b17533@news.teranews.com>,
 pixelmeow <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.co> wrote:

> On Sat, 27 Mar 2004 20:40:52 -0800, in alt.fan.heinlein, "David M.
> Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net> scribbled:
> 
> >In article <m49c6096edi9hd917kpslh0iidq7ahlpt6@4ax.com>,
> > Ogden Johnson III <oj3usmc@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> >> Just to reassure David Silver, among others; in a.f.h, I only
> >> have Agent not download the body, and mark those 100+ line posts
> >> as having been read.  That way, when David or someone else posts
> >> a massive on-topic tome discussing one aspect or another of RAH,
> >> I just have to retrieve the body.
> >
> >Been a while, hasn't it? 
> >
> >Somebody please give me a topic, and I'll see what I can start. ;-)
> 
> Okay, here's one I've had in the back of my mind for a few months now:
> 

It's been in the back of my mind for thirty-four years, or so. So, now that you, Pixel, forced me to face it again, let's see what resulted in the couple days I took to think about it:

> In SiaSL, Mike "gets it" about humor and laughing from the monkeys.
> The idea is that we laugh so we don't have to cry, IIRC; we laugh at
> others getting hurt or something like that.  Is that a universal thing
> for humans in general?  [snipping Am-Brit questions]  Would "anyone" "get it" at
> the monkey cage?  Is there a universal humor, and is it slapstick?
> 

The Monkey Cage incident occurs at an important place in the story: it's the end, absolutely the last necessary lesson learned by Valentine Michael in Part 3, "His Eccentric Education," so one ought to look beyond the author's obvious and stated resolution, "the 'we laugh to keep from crying' trope I think rah gets from Mark Twain. It's very prominent in Mysterious Stranger (which hadn't yet been published at the time of SIASL)," as Bill put it elsewhere in this thread.

It is a _somewhat_ profound resolution when we first formally realize that the basis for most humor are the little and big tragedies of life itself, the funniest of jokes are pratfalls, or are dependent on such un-PC things as vicious intolerances, bigotries, et al. Frex, you're blonde, Pix. Don't ever get me started on that genetic defect , or you may find yourself slipping a bit of extra flavoring in my next cognac to really put me to sleep.

But this book SiaSL is a satire -- primarily of sex and religion, as Heinlein wrote, but of a "double dozen" other topics, as he also wrote. So let's look a little deeper as I thought I once would formally do, around 34 years ago, but didn't for a long enough time to come to a final conclusion as it turned out.

By the time I got around to reading SiaSL, the first time, I think, it had to have been after my first set of tours overseas in 1960-61, and likely after my second in 1963. I have no clear memory of the book before 1965 or '66, which was about three or four years after most Heinlein afficiandos around my age or older got to read it. By contrast, I have a clear memory of having read _Glory Road_, frex, long before SiaSL, primarily because someone sent it to me in the 'squishy place' because he knew I read RAH and when he saw it starts in the 'squishy place' he thought it most appropropriate to send it to me immediately: maybe he thought I'd take my release from active duty in France. Heh. I'd already used up my allotment from the Fairy Godmother Section.

So despite the Hugo that had been awarded, SiaSL didn't make much impression immediately when I finally got around to reading it -- I was more happy with _Glory Road_, hell, I envied Oscar, and more excited about Podkayne -- as many had, I'd been wondering why Heinlein never got around to writing about a girl; and I liked it, although I thought Poddy had been dropped on her head early in life -- my view of how she handled Clark influenced that. My sister, who you've met, bless her, by contrast never had much problem in causing our younger brother to conform his conduct to societal mores, but then I better not say much about the technique she adopted from my and other familial examples and employed on him to accomplish that if I want to see this month's newsletters to get mailed out on time. So I just read SiaSL, got the satire generally, smiled at a few of Jubal's comments, and put it aside to read again next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.

But a funny thing happened by January 1967: I gotten married, having gotten out, and had just started university thanks to the reintroduction of the G.I. Bill Oscar and I had been waiting for: and, by the first quarter into it, decided to change my major to English, having incidentally found out, to my surprise, that many of my much younger classmates, both the brighter ones and the fruit-loopier ones, were all agog with SiaSL. There actually was a "mic" (for Mickey Mouse) lower division course being taught by some prematurely burnt out assistant professor over in the philosophy department that included SiaSL in its readings; and all the "peace, dope, love" freshmen and sophomores were taking it for the automatic "A" he gave anyone who stayed in the huge lecture hall where it was taught long enough to remember whatever the hell the points he made were.

And, by then, as I found as I got into my own major upper division courses, Twain's _Mysterious Stranger_ had been published, so when I read it I remarked on the similiar treatment of the basis of humor, much more scathing in Twain's dennouncement, btw, by the "Angel" (Michael's counterpart) in it.

That eventually led me in my last couple quarters at UCLA to talking one of my profs into letting me take a special study course with him (no classes, stop by and chat about what I was reading once in a while, and just turn in a paper, with the bibliography, at the end of the quarter) on the subject of "humor," by which chats he got me diverted into the study of various other esoteric stuff, which is how these sorts of classes go, so by the end of the quarter I wrote something that wasn't exactly on what I'd thought it would be at the beginning. And life went on, the baby came, I left UCLA, got a real job and went to night law school, et cetera, et al., without ever answering the question 'what about the humor lesson in SiaSL and Mysterious Stranger?' which sparked the topic in my mind and was the reason I'd proposed it in the first place.

> Go to it, David, and here's a drink and a cigar to start you out.  :-)

So, cigar drawing well now, let's look first at one thing: the Society itself when SiaSL was written -- not what it had or was becoming by 1967-69 and onward when I started studying the problem of what the Monkey Cage scene intends to teach -- what it taught Michael.

Throughout the period from 1948 onward, throughout the 1950s certainly, and on towards and even past 1961, there was a problem RAH saw with American Society, what it was teaching its children and requiring its adults to conform their conduct to, aside from its peculiar views of sex and religion. We don't have to guess at it. He told us what it was in _Glory Road_. Oscar: don't fight city hall, "go steady," get through college and get that degree, get a job in aerospace, buy a nice five-bedroom new house in the suburbs, be as conformist as army ants.

Why was that? Fundamentally, because US society had, since the late 1940s, gone Puritan again, as it does every couple generations and is now, gotten materialistic, and gone repressive. Instead of alcohol, or nicotine, they'd banned freethinking (all them 'pinkos'), and they'd banned, or implied a ban, on non-purposeful and non-materialistic vocations. We really weren't sent out to play, said the shamans of education, both pre- and post-Sputnik in the 1950s, we were sent out to learn something useful. All Sputnik did was focus on science and engineering for those who could handle the math.

Try this: (#1 on the charts: 1957)

GET A JOB
THE SILHOUETTES
(from sheet music)

Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum
Get a job Sha na na na, sha na na na na

Every morning about this time
she get me out of my bed
a-crying get a job.
After breakfast, everyday,
she throws the want ads right my way
And never fails to say,
Get a job Sha na na na, sha na na na na
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum
Get a job Sha na na na, sha na na na na

And when I get the paper
I read it through and through
And my girl never fails to say
If there is any work for me,
And when I go back to the house
I hear the woman's mouth
Preaching and a crying,
Tell me that I'm lying 'bout a job
That I never could find.
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Sha na na na, sha na na na na,
Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum
Get a job Sha na na na, sha na na na na

I drove my old man nuts with some of the music I listened to in 1957-59; but I think he actually liked and knew the words to that one.

So turning back to what's going on in the Monkey House. Mankind has the capability of throwing enormous tantrums when frustrated. That monkey beating on the other monkey who beats on a smaller monkey until there isn't another smaller monkey to kick around is a symbol of something more than mere cruelty and frustration. It's funny because it's a demonstration of something true: unplanned, not according to what is scripted, whether we script it ourselves or it's scripted for us by someone else -- our jobs, our families, our government, our schools or even the indifferently malign fate we sometimes call Ghod. And we laugh because not only is the release of frustration necessary; but it involves something called Play by one writer who I read in 1969. Here comes the leap.

A German philosopher, who had the bad luck to be alive and writing his best stuff during the Third Reich, named Johan Huizinga wrote something named _Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture_, originally published in Switzerland to which country Huizinga had slipped away by 1944, shortly before Huizinga died (Beacon Press, Boston (C) 1950, by Roy Publishers, sixth printing Nov 67 is what I have). Huizinga points out that this Play-Element not only subsumes all humor (including the beastly monkey house beatings) but all art and likely subsumes the reasons for mankind's inventive nature.

Compare what Valentine Michael tells Jill at the end of Chapter 29 in SiaSL: "'This is hard to explain, because you have never lived as a Martian, for all that I've told you about it. On Mars there is _never_ anything to laugh at. All the things that are funny to us humans either physically cannot happen on Mars or are not permitted to happen -- sweetheart, what you call "freedom" doesn't exist on Mars; everything is planned by the Old Ones -- or the things that _do_ happen on Mars which we laugh at here on Earth aren't funny because there is no wrongness about them. Death, for example.'"

And then there's the discussion about death, how many jokes, and why we have to laugh at them, and leading into the question "Could it be that _every_one_ of _all_ these religions are true?"

But it's not all about 'religion' here. There's that thing called sex and a "double dozen" other objects of the satire of SiaSL.

And, since there obviously aren't any real life Martians, the Martian attitude he is satirizing must be that of our own Old Ones.

Remember I said something about about how "purposeful" we were in the 1950s. Another professor I was taking classes from in the late 1960s was a fellow who became a full professor of some high repute named Richard Lanham. He wrote several pretty good books. In one, _Literacy and the Survival of Humanism_ (1983) [long after I'd graduated], he called the focus we had in the 1950s (and it continues today in most schools of education) not purposeful, but "purposive" and he contrasts that term to "stylistic," by which term he means everything not "purposive," e.g., art, music, literature, humanism, or to use Huizinga's formulation: Play.

He takes the dicotomy between the two all the way back to Thomas More's _Utopia_, which he terms a satire, and contrasts it to Castiglione's _The Courtier_. The book is out of print, Lanham having retired, but the chapter in which he discusses this is here:

http://www.rhetoricainc.com/

More propounds rules for acceptible "purposive" behavior; Castiglione doesn't.

Lanham's summary at one point:

"If Castiglione is right, More is wrong. Suicidally wrong. Utopia 
destroys the social utility of play, the necessary countervailing force 
to a hypertropic purpose. It shuts down that random variation which, on 
the level of ideas, it is play's business to introduce."

Back to Heinlein and SiaSL now: What's that all about?

Valentine Michael goes on to "His Scandalous Career," the counterpart of the three years Christ spent preaching and attracting the attention that resulted in The Sacrifice. Skip past that and begin with "His Happy Destiny":

         *     *     *     *     *

   "The Martian Old Ones had reached an elegant and awesome trial 
solution to their major esthetic problem and put it aside for a few 
filled-threes to let it generate new problems. At which time, unhurriedy 
but at once and almost absent-mindedly, the alien nestling which they 
had returned to his proper world was tapped of what he had learned of 
his people and dropped, after cherishing, since he was of no further 
interest to their purposes."

Purposive, as Lanham calls it.

   "They collectively took the data he had accumulated and, with a view 
to testing that trial solution, began to work toward considering an 
inquiry leading to an investigation of esthetic parameters involved in 
the possibility of the artistic necessity of destroying Earth. But 
necessarily much waiting would be, before fullness would grok decision."

Heh. Never had to type that before. It reads just like a gubmint bureaucrat wrote it. Not only Purposive, it reads like Malvolio said it, too.

Meanwhile, Bishop Oxtongue gets the blow-off started on its way. And then, in Chapter 36, Mikr and Jubal have the conversation in which Mike tells Jubal he's discovered he's been a spy, "tapped ... dropped, after cherishing ..." and that after a minimum of five hundred years, the Old Ones will try to destroy the Earth, or worse, make mankind over, an attempt that "would kill us just as certainly but much less painlessly."

Mike discloses he had to change mankind to arm us to defend against that; he couldn't do it in the schools or colleges, it had to be smuggled in as a religion -- appealling to curiosity and a desire to be entertained, i.e., what Huizinga calls the "Play-Effect," or Lanham calls "Stylistics."

While I wrote this, I thought about _For Us, the Living_ and the purposive vs. stylistic there as well. Because of the social credit dividend paid, mankind is also free to turn to the stylistic to occupy its mind in that Utopia. The purposive isn't needed, unless chosen freely. I wonder what Sir Thomas More, martyred saint, would have thought. Lanham kindly terms his Utopia a satire. Maybe it was, against what son-in-law Roper depicted in "A Man for All Seasons."

Okay, that's it, Pixel. Now you've got my thoughts about what was really being taught in the Monkey Cage. Watcha think about it? Or anyone?

-- 
David M. Silver www.heinleinsociety.org
"The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!"
Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA '29, Lt.(jg), USN, R'td, 1907-88


From: "cmaj7dmin7" <reilloc@sbcglobal.spamlessness.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 3:39 PM

"pixelmeow" <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote in message
news:b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com...

> Humor:

So, I've got this memory of a date, a social outing with a person of the other sex. No, not that other sex; the other one. Yeah, her. In 1977...'78...? I can't remember. But, anyway, I don't know (who would?) whether Heinlein would have liked Woody Allen's humor and that doesn't matter because this isn't Allen's joke; it's twice as old as his grandparents would have been times 1,000, when it wound up the first joke in "Annie Hall."

I'll tell it in just a second--or, rather, I'll turn it into the Heinlein joke I know'll work--but, first, I'll tell about the experience, so, be patient.

Have I told you this one before? I think I have but everytime I tell it or the one about the time my first ex-wife became hysterical over the Sears repair van that hit our air-headed cocker spaniel who'd jumped out the window of the Renault while we were waiting for friends ahead of us in the Karmen Ghia to clean up their dog's puke from between them in the front seat, everytime I tell any of these they're different and, I think, my timing changes. Better, worse, I can't tell you right now.

So, we're in the theatre and it's our first and last date and the movie starts and Woody (Heinlein might have liked some of the humor if only because, looking at the guy you realize just how many kinds of Woodies there are who won't live for 2,000 years but devise their own methods of coming to terms with it) starts his opening monologue. That's how the movie starts.

He tells the joke and that thing happened to me that goes directly to the heart of the definition and meaning of humor.

I laughed. Immediately after the punchline, I laughed. A second later, much of the rest of the audience laughed.

Now, this happened to me, again, years later when my older son was about 8 and we took him and half a dozen of his friends to see Jim Varney, who's not much like Woody Allen or Robert Heinlein, know what I mean? The movie then was, "Earnest Goes to Jail." Varney or Earnest and in earnest, since that's important in humor sometimes, delivered the one-liner, "Did you hear the one about the three-legged dog who walked into the saloon and said, 'I'm looking for the hombre who shot my paw'(?)"

So, it was a bunch of kids who laughed the second after I'd laughed this time but the questions were still the same: Did they just get it? Were they laughing at me? Were they laughing because I laughed? Were they laughing at my laugh? Were they laughing because I thought that was funny and they didn't? Were they laughing at something completely different?

The two old ladies in the Catskills might as well have been Dora and Minerva at Boondock. Lazarus (does he dare to eat a peach?) may as well have been one Woody as the other. The joke's still timeless and you can laugh any way you want. Or not. Rephrasing and topicalizing it, it goes like...

Two people were talking and the first one said, "Life is so confusing and painful sometimes."

The second one replied, "Yeah, and it's so short."

More, later,

LNC



From: "DocJam00" <docjam00@aol.com>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 6:31 PM

To quote the immortal Stan Laurel: "Life isn't short enough, is it, Ollie?"

Robert



From: "David M. Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 10:37 PM

In article <b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com>,
 pixelmeow <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote:

> I would also like to bring in other works of RAH if necessary to flesh
> this out.

The evidences of forms of humor, often irony, sometimes not quite that strong, are very apparent in Heinlein work. An example from a later story:

In 1898, in _To Sail Beyond the Sunset_, Maureen, once she decides to allow her father to put her name on the Howard Foundation list for potential suitors, receives various callers, the last of which is Brian Smith, then attending the School of Mines at the University of Missouri, in Rolla. Smith writes ahead, asking permission to call upon Maureen, by letter received on April 2, 1898.

Thebes, Missouri, where Maureen and the Johnson family live, is fictitious, but located close enough to Heinlein's birthplace of Bulter, Missouri, for Bulter to be the market town closest to it.

Assuming one day US Mail service between Rolla and Thebes, on the "Katy," perhaps, then Brian Smith's letter was written and posted April 1st, 1898, perhaps in light of what grief is ultimately to come from Brian, an "April Fool's Joke" for Maureen.

-- 
David M. Silver www.heinleinsociety.org
"The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!"
Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA '29, Lt.(jg), USN, R'td, 1907-88


From: "cmaj7dmin7" <reilloc@sbcglobal.spamlessness.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Thursday, June 10, 2004 2:36 AM

"David M. Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:ag.plusone-052BBA.12173209062004@individual.net...
>
> Just to refresh my recollection, I googled up the old thread in
> which Teresa asked and I gave my more or less 'wonderful' answer.
> It may not be all that wonderful, but 'tis interesting, including
> the comments it drew, and the thread (not the initial post) is
> mercifully short (for us). Here:
>
>
> http://tinyurl.com/27hgh
>
> Of course, it never did answer Pix's basic question: is "humor"
> universal?

I've retrieved this text from Google:

>Compare what Valentine Michael tells Jill at the end of Chapter 29 in
>SiaSL: "'This is hard to explain, because you have never lived as a
>Martian, for all that I've told you about it. On Mars there is _never_
>anything to laugh at. All the things that are funny to us humans either
>physically cannot happen on Mars or are not permitted to happen -- 
>sweetheart, what you call "freedom" doesn't exist on Mars; everything is
>planned by the Old Ones -- or the things that _do_ happen on Mars which
>we laugh at here on Earth aren't funny because there is no wrongness
>about them. Death, for example.'"
>
>And then there's the discussion about death, how many jokes, and why we
>have to laugh at them, and leading into the question "Could it be that
>_every_one_ of _all_ these religions are true?"

Now, I don't claim to be a deep thinker and I'm not a literary scholar but there seems to be an obvious flaw in what Mike told Jill: he's only an egg so how does he know the Old Ones don't have a sense of humor? Further, how would he know what's funny to them? In fact, when he stops being an "egg" and gets his ass killed, the reader sees him in some heaven equivalent in a last, humorous scene where he's superior in rank to Digby. (Doubtless, because he's intended to be Christ, come home.)

The question, "is humor universal," directed off planet presumes that it's universal down on Earth and, clearly, it's not.

Why did the ghost cross the road?

To get to the other side.

That's just not funny to some people.

Some people are too good or, perhaps, too...whatever...to laugh at a well-timed pratfall. Closer to home, some people see no humor in politics, see nothing funny about one political party whose members know their intentions are the highest and best being able only to muster Presidential candidates (of late) with the conventional morals of sluts and the other party, whose members hold intellectual capacity to be paramount to the elect, able only to muster Presidential candidates (lately) with the IQ's of chimps.

It makes no logical sense, what Mike told Jill. At its base, he's saying the Old Ones don't know how to feel pleasure. Don't own the concept of "good." Clearly, that's facially wrong since they're represented as master planners, consumate controllers. No organism, rational or irrational, will choose a behavior whose reinforcing consequence is not pleasureable. Sure, we could quibble until the cows come home about what "pleasureable" is (or how it's spelled) but the fact is that it's the organism itself which defines the term. Like humor.

So, if you see me banging my head against a wall repeatedly, you'd be right to conclude that it gives me pleasure. If you see a monkey beating the unholy shit out of a smaller monkey, it's because the bigger monkey obtains pleasure. When you get down to the smallest simian, with nobody left to bash, he'll do something that obtains some pleasure. What that is depends on the setting but the behavior will be defined as satisfactory, under the circumstances, by the monkey, in spite of how it looks to an observer. To conclude otherwise is to presume wrongly.

Now, is that "play" or is that just another strange bedfellow in the politics of passion that's humor, sex and life.

LNC



From: "Oscagne" <Oscagne@ev1.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL - June 17, 19
Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2004 8:21 PM

"pixelmeow" <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote in message
news:b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com...
*snip*
> I have read other works by other authors (particularly, Robert Jordan)
> where people in one culture have one kind of humor and people in
> another culture have a different kind of humor.  Person A from culture
> X tells joke to Person B from culture Y, and B totally doesn't get it.
> A lot of people don't get British humor.  I laugh myself silly at
> Monty Python's Holy Grail, and amazingly, so does my 8.5 year old
> daughter.  I don't know any examples of humor from other cultures,
> such as Eastern European, or Middle Eastern, or what have you, so I
> can't compare for myself.  But these examples serve to keep my
> curiosity going, and that's why David's post (even though it was
> wonderful) doesn't completely answer my question.

This paragraph appears to me to be the crux of the whole question. We obviously (as noted in the snippage) have no recourse to ask any aliens if they think we are funny. We _do_ have furriners to ask if we're funny, and to listen to, to see if we think they are funny.

You mention British humor... but that stuff is almost my "milk" humor, much the way midwestern hacksaw was Woody's "milk language", so I'm going to have to discount myself from determining if it's "different" humor. In fact... the only joke that comes to mind, that is really foreign to me, at the moment is a pre-OIF one I heard had migrated from Iraq through our troops last year. As I remember it:

Two men are standing on a very crowded bus. One looks at the other and asks, "Are you at all related to Saddam Hussein?"

"No."

"Are you friends with him?"

"No."

"Are you related to anyone in the [insert Iraqi intelligence service... I can't remember it]?"

"No."

"Are you related to anyone in the Republican Guard?"

"No."

"Ah. Then, would you mind getting off my foot?"

I think this is directly related to the exact point. If you compare this to the humor that we've come to know and love, humor, human humor that is, is related to pain. It's a coping mechanism, and it is separate, perhaps complimentary, to happiness. And while the smallest monkey may not fully appreciate the humor of the situation, it is possible for him to; much like the Iraqi man on the bus.

-- 
Oscagne, High Priest of Skeptics and Cynics
wanna read a story?  http://users4.ev1.net/~mcgrew/mss
or see my goofy website?  http://users4.ev1.net/~mcgrew/webpage/home.htm

The next Heinlein Readers Group Chats will be:
"Humor in SiaSL" on
Thursday, June 17 at 9:00 P.M. Eastern U.S. and
Saturday, June 19 at 5:00 P.M. Eastern U.S.
See http://heinleinsociety.org/readersgroup/index.html#Info
to participate.


From: "pixelmeow" <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:47 AM

On Wed, 09 Jun 2004 19:39:53 GMT, in alt.fan.heinlein, "cmaj7dmin7"
<reilloc@sbcglobal.spamlessness.net> scribbled:

>
>"pixelmeow" <XKEAAGIPVIEZ@spammotel.com> wrote in message
>news:b727f8c97b30c3dc10851de3fc855c14@news.teranews.com...
>
>> Humor:
>
>So, I've got this memory of a date, a social outing with a person of the
>other sex. No, not that other sex; the other one. Yeah, her. In
>1977...'78...? I can't remember. But, anyway, I don't know (who would?)
>whether Heinlein would have liked Woody Allen's humor and that doesn't
>matter because this isn't Allen's joke; it's twice as old as his
>grandparents would have been times 1,000, when it wound up the first joke in
>"Annie Hall."
>
>I'll tell it in just a second--or, rather, I'll turn it into the Heinlein
>joke I know'll work--but, first, I'll tell about the experience, so, be
>patient.
>
>Have I told you this one before? I think I have but everytime I tell it or
>the one about the time my first ex-wife became hysterical over the Sears
>repair van that hit our air-headed cocker spaniel who'd jumped out the
>window of the Renault while we were waiting for friends ahead of us in the
>Karmen Ghia to clean up their dog's puke from between them in the front
>seat, everytime I tell any of these they're different and, I think, my
>timing changes. Better, worse, I can't tell you right now.
>
>So, we're in the theatre and it's our first and last date and the movie
>starts and Woody (Heinlein might have liked some of the humor if only
>because, looking at the guy you realize just how many kinds of Woodies there
>are who won't live for 2,000 years but devise their own methods of coming to
>terms with it) starts his opening monologue. That's how the movie starts.
>
>He tells the joke and that thing happened to me that goes directly to the
>heart of the definition and meaning of humor.
>
>I laughed. Immediately after the punchline, I laughed. A second later, much
>of the rest of the audience laughed.
>
>Now, this happened to me, again, years later when my older son was about 8
>and we took him and half a dozen of his friends to see Jim Varney, who's not
>much like Woody Allen or Robert Heinlein, know what I mean? The movie then
>was, "Earnest Goes to Jail." Varney or Earnest and in earnest, since that's
>important in humor sometimes, delivered the one-liner, "Did you hear the one
>about the three-legged dog who walked into the saloon and said, 'I'm looking
>for the hombre who shot my paw'(?)"

It would have taken me a second, too; but jokes like that usually do. ;-)

>So, it was a bunch of kids who laughed the second after I'd laughed this
>time but the questions were still the same: Did they just get it? Were they
>laughing at me? Were they laughing because I laughed? Were they laughing at
>my laugh? Were they laughing because I thought that was funny and they
>didn't? Were they laughing at something completely different?

That is definitely a part of my thoughts that I had about my daughter enjoying Monty Python as much as she did. Would she have laughed hysterically at the coconuts if I weren't there to laugh at them? Would she have fallen over at the Knights who say Ni? I had to explain the comments of the French soldier, and what a KuNiggit was, and she laughed, but I already had laughed uproariously. I did a sort of running translation of some parts, like the Black Knight, and she thought that hilarious, too. But I *do* wonder.

>The two old ladies in the Catskills might as well have been Dora and Minerva
>at Boondock. Lazarus (does he dare to eat a peach?) may as well have been
>one Woody as the other. The joke's still timeless and you can laugh any way
>you want. Or not. Rephrasing and topicalizing it, it goes like...
>
>Two people were talking and the first one said, "Life is so confusing and
>painful sometimes."
>
>The second one replied, "Yeah, and it's so short."
>
>More, later,
>
>LNC
>
-- 
~teresa~
 AFH Barwench

  ^..^  "Never try to outstubborn a cat."  Robert A. Heinlein  ^..^
  http://pixelmeow.com/  http://www.heinleinsociety.org/
     http://pixelmeow.com/Book_Exchange/index.htm
           http://pixelmeow.com/forum/
      aim: pixelmeow msn: pixelmeow@passport.com


From: "Pete LaGrange" <oldman1961@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:52 AM

On Thu, 10 Jun 2004 06:36:43 +0000, cmaj7dmin7 wrote:

> Closer to home, some people see no humor in politics,
> see nothing funny about one political party whose members know their
> intentions are the highest and best being able only to muster Presidential
> candidates (of late) with the conventional morals of sluts and the other
> party, whose members hold intellectual capacity to be paramount to the
> elect, able only to muster Presidential candidates (lately) with the IQ's
> of chimps.

Now this is funny...sad, but funny.

--
Pete LaGrange



From: "David M. Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Thursday, June 10, 2004 10:13 AM

In article <%jTxc.3889$k75.1094@newssvr24.news.prodigy.com>,
 "cmaj7dmin7" <reilloc@sbcglobal.spamlessness.net> quoting the prior thread 
post wrote:

> >Compare what Valentine Michael tells Jill at the end of Chapter 29 in
> >SiaSL: "'This is hard to explain, because you have never lived as a
> >Martian, for all that I've told you about it. On Mars there is _never_
> >anything to laugh at. All the things that are funny to us humans either
> >physically cannot happen on Mars or are not permitted to happen -- 
> >sweetheart, what you call "freedom" doesn't exist on Mars; everything is
> >planned by the Old Ones -- or the things that _do_ happen on Mars which
> >we laugh at here on Earth aren't funny because there is no wrongness
> >about them. Death, for example.'"
> >
> >And then there's the discussion about death, how many jokes, and why we
> >have to laugh at them, and leading into the question "Could it be that
> >_every_one_ of _all_ these religions are true?"
> 
> Now, I don't claim to be a deep thinker and I'm not a literary scholar but
> there seems to be an obvious flaw in what Mike told Jill: he's only an egg
> so how does he know the Old Ones don't have a sense of humor? 

He may not. Frex, he doesn't know those intellectual frenzies of artistic creation that resulted in one artist's discorporation during one work didn't include some approximation of Martian 'humor' alongside whatever other Martian emotions are experienced when creating Great Martian Art. All he's observed by Martians is "purposiveness." He's not advanced to that state, either of mature Martian adult or old one to have experienced great artistic creation -- he's only an "egg" as they've told him -- and maybe he'd not remain human if he did. Does great artistic creation by a Martian require such as taking a small bit of the core of some insignificant planet such as the earth, say ten cubic miles, and sending 90 degrees away from everything? A Big Bang? All he knows is what he's observed doesn't encompass what he's learned while on earth is the human definition of humor.

> Further, how
> would he know what's funny to them? 

He cannot so far as we know, unless he's visited the Martian heaven in his Michael the Archangel (or filii dei, as you suggest, infra) persona, which we might assume had to have likely occurred at some time, and observed nothing humorous to them or to his deific or angelic being.

> In fact, when he stops being an "egg"
> and gets his ass killed, the reader sees him in some heaven equivalent in a
> last, humorous scene where he's superior in rank to Digby. (Doubtless,
> because he's intended to be Christ, come home.)
> 

It's funny to him, to his dual human and angelic or deific persona, so perhaps it is in that sense "universal," after all, if Yahweh says it's funny, who are we to argue that it's not -- who are the Martians for that matter?

> The question, "is humor universal," directed off planet presumes that it's
> universal down on Earth and, clearly, it's not.
> 
> Why did the ghost cross the road?
> 
> To get to the other side.
> 
> That's just not funny to some people.
> 

Some people lack a sense of humor, as you suggest, but because they are determined to lack one, not because the potential is lacking.

I never thought tip-toeing past the sleeping cabinet to avaid waking the sleeping pills was very funny, either; but because the joke is an example of one of Mannie Davis and Michael Holmes' half-witticisms -- tell it the first time you're a wit, the next time a half-wit, thereafter the inverse geometric progression continues.

> Some people are too good or, perhaps, too...whatever...to laugh at a
> well-timed pratfall. Closer to home, some people see no humor in politics,
> see nothing funny about one political party whose members know their
> intentions are the highest and best being able only to muster Presidential
> candidates (of late) with the conventional morals of sluts and the other
> party, whose members hold intellectual capacity to be paramount to the
> elect, able only to muster Presidential candidates (lately) with the IQ's of
> chimps.

Too true. But you cannot regret those. They've been taught the wrong religion. Think instead:

   Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
   Or why was Burton built on Trent?
   Oh many a peer of England brews
   Livelier liquor than the Muse,
   And malt does more than Milton can
   To justify God's ways to man.
   Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
   For fellows whom it hurts to think;
   Look into the pewter pot
   To see the world as the world's not.
   And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
   The mischief is that 'twill not last.
   Oh, I have been to Ludlow fair
   And left my necktie God knows where,
   And carried half-way home, or near,
   Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
   Then the world seemed none so bad,
   And I myself a sterling lad;
   And down in lovely muck I've lain,
   Happy till I woke again.
   Then I saw the morning sky:
   Heighho, the tale was all a lie;
   The world, it was the old world yet,
   I was I, my things were wet,
   And nothing now remained to do
   But begin the game anew.

Now that's a sort of good humorman I like.

> 
> It makes no logical sense, what Mike told Jill. At its base, he's saying the
> Old Ones don't know how to feel pleasure. Don't own the concept of "good."
> Clearly, that's facially wrong since they're represented as master planners,
> consumate controllers. No organism, rational or irrational, will choose a
> behavior whose reinforcing consequence is not pleasureable. Sure, we could
> quibble until the cows come home about what "pleasureable" is (or how it's
> spelled) but the fact is that it's the organism itself which defines the
> term. Like humor.

But "good," or control, or pleasure isn't the same thing as humor, which may be both pleasurable of itself or may cause you to laugh because it hurts, and therefore 'magically' turn pain to pleasure -- a poor pleasure but pleasure lest it drive us mad. So there is some human logic to it. Bearing in mind that some such as Rodney in TiTS misuse logic. Something that is purposive need not involve humor but may be pleasurable if you've set yourself up, trained yourself, to derive pleasure from purposiveness. Others may consider you a dull tool indeed, but dull tools turn toolings as do sharp ones, just not as many or as well and, I'd submit, break easier. Bearing in mind that some such as the immature Bill Leamer in Farmer were due to break quickly, absent the development, or perhaps they need to break before development, having bent in the wrong direction too long. [But some just break and lay there, never to begin the game anew.]

> 
> So, if you see me banging my head against a wall repeatedly, you'd be right
> to conclude that it gives me pleasure. If you see a monkey beating the
> unholy shit out of a smaller monkey, it's because the bigger monkey obtains
> pleasure. When you get down to the smallest simian, with nobody left to
> bash, he'll do something that obtains some pleasure. What that is depends on
> the setting but the behavior will be defined as satisfactory, under the
> circumstances, by the monkey, in spite of how it looks to an observer. To
> conclude otherwise is to presume wrongly.
> 
> Now, is that "play" or is that just another strange bedfellow in the
> politics of passion that's humor, sex and life.
> 

Well, as he said,

   Terence, this is stupid stuff:
But it is our relief. So we play on.
-- 
David M. Silver www.heinleinsociety.org
"The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!"
Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA '29, Lt.(jg), USN, R'td, 1907-88


From: "cmaj7dmin7" <reilloc@sbcglobal.spamlessness.net>
Subject: Re: [LONG] Lead-off for next chat: Humor in SiaSL
Date: Thursday, June 10, 2004 12:04 PM

Just a couple of quick things and more later:

"David M. Silver" <ag.plusone@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:ag.plusone-4759FC.07135910062004@individual.net...
> In article <%jTxc.3889$k75.1094@newssvr24.news.prodigy.com>,
>  "cmaj7dmin7" <reilloc@sbcglobal.spamlessness.net> quoting the prior thread
> post wrote:
>
>
> > Some people are too good or, perhaps, too...whatever...to laugh at a
> > well-timed pratfall. Closer to home, some people see no humor in politics,
> > see nothing funny about one political party whose members know their 
> > intentions are the highest and best being able only to muster Presidential
> > candidates (of late) with the conventional morals of sluts and the other
> > party, whose members hold intellectual capacity to be paramount to the
> > elect, able only to muster Presidential candidates (lately) with the IQ's of
> > chimps.
>
> Too true. But you cannot regret those. They've been taught the
> wrong religion.

"They" are "us." What I said covers both sides.

>    Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
>    Or why was Burton built on Trent?
>    Oh many a peer of England brews
>    Livelier liquor than the Muse,
>    And malt does more than Milton can
>    To justify God's ways to man.
>    Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
>    For fellows whom it hurts to think;
>    Look into the pewter pot
>    To see the world as the world's not.
>    And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
>    The mischief is that 'twill not last.
>    Oh, I have been to Ludlow fair
>    And left my necktie God knows where,
>    And carried half-way home, or near,
>    Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
>    Then the world seemed none so bad,
>    And I myself a sterling lad;
>    And down in lovely muck I've lain,
>    Happy till I woke again.
>    Then I saw the morning sky:
>    Heighho, the tale was all a lie;
>    The world, it was the old world yet,
>    I was I, my things were wet,
>    And nothing now remained to do
>    But begin the game anew.

Is the sea boiling hot? Do pigs have wings?

> But "good," or control, or pleasure isn't the same thing as
> humor, which may be both pleasurable of itself or may cause you
> to laugh because it hurts, and therefore 'magically' turn pain to
> pleasure -- a poor pleasure but pleasure lest it drive us mad.

Yeah, there's "fun" and then there's "funny." Fun isn't always funny or always "fun." That's pretty funny, really. Funny isn't "funny" to everybody. Isn't this fun?

> as Rodney in TiTS misuse logic.

You said tits.

LNC


End of Postings


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OscagneTX: Next chat is still fluid, but will probably be July 1 & 3. I might have to negotiate with the head of the xprize foundation.

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OscagneTX: howdy, howard

OscagneTX: and lv

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NYC20CnLtd: I'll catch you later if things are still going then...

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LV Poker Player: I'm attempting to multitask too, and those who follow AFH know that I am NOT good at that

Major oz has entered the room.

Major oz: good evening

OscagneTX: Howdy, Major.

BookOworm has entered the room.

LanaiHoward: Given the subject, where are the peanuts?

Major oz: first time I have been home on a thursday in three years

OscagneTX: In the comics page, what's left of 'em.

BookOworm: Waving Hi to David! 8-)

OscagneTX: I was going to wait for Pix, it being her topic and all... but she's away.

BookOworm: (Hi Oz...too :-)

Major oz: .....good to be here

DavidWrightSr: Hi again to everyone.

OscagneTX: Well, we can warm up, I guess, in case she makes it by...

jcgsmtop1: I'm all for warmth ... especially the cuddly kind!

LV Poker Player: what is topic anyway? I had not really planned to be here

OscagneTX: humor in SIASL

LV Poker Player: Ah yes, good topic

DavidWrightSr: Not just SIASL, but in Heinlein in general , I thought

jcgsmtop1: Mike's early attempts to understand human behaviour were pretty funny

LV Poker Player: I really liked it when Mike recited "

OscagneTX: Pix's title was SIASL, but she mentioned in the post an intention to reference some other stories.

LV Poker Player: "the book" when asked what he knew of inheritance law. :-)

jcgsmtop1: Being a former legal secretary, I really appreciated that recitation!

Major oz: I enjoyed the slow, subtle stuff, like playing "mars" from Holzst's "the planents" for Mike

BJ Maranta has entered the room.

BJ Maranta: Howdy All!

jcgsmtop1: Yes. And Jubal's general curmudgeonliness

OscagneTX: howdy, BJ. Where's the Bear?

BJ Maranta: ha ha... very funny... ha ha ha... :-)

OscagneTX: hehe... you got it! Your mind must be as much of a junkyard as mine.

BJ Maranta: Yup. A trivia Junkie, and proud of it

Major oz: ...backdoring to the "emperor" through Patty and the boss' wiffe.

LanaiHoward: LV, I actually used that quote and bluffed the hell out of an annoying probate lawyer. Started out by saying "well, I don't know much about inheritance law...just some basics like dower and curtesy rights...

LanaiHoward: As I think about it, there's almost a whole topic here -- drawing from an RAH character in a real-world interaction. Jubal tends to be most useful, but there are others.

Major oz: run with it, H

BJ Maranta: Drawing from a specific character, rather than RAH's works in general?

LanaiHoward: Both--sometimes even paraphrasing the character, though, as in the "Ely on Inheritance and Bequest" example.

Major oz: I always thought the book was about Jubal anyway. Mike was a tool to open him (Jubal) up.

OscagneTX: Flip side... if the FBI was banging down your door, how well do you think Jubal's "get off my flowers" speech would go over?

LanaiHoward: I will admit that one of my styles that's probably more global in the corpus -- saying a few key things so an "authority" doesn't know how much you do know, but knows you aren't to be taken lightly

BJ Maranta: hrm...

Major oz: ......but then, some think a chicken is just a device that an egg uses to produce another egg....

OscagneTX: hehe

BJ Maranta: lol

Major oz: That is why I see the book being Jubal's story.

LanaiHoward: Depends on the mood of the FBI. If they were raiding terrorists, it would be one thing. I have, however, played similar mind games with ones doing security clearance investigations.

OscagneTX: I was thinking of a situation analgous to the one Jubal was in...

LanaiHoward: See my R-rated recent post on chickens and eggs

BJ Maranta: lol

BJ Maranta: (afk for a sec...)

OscagneTX: The goons were literally dropping on the lawn and breaking down the doors.

Major oz: But the cheif complaint was what they were doing to the flower beds -- dark humor for me.

LanaiHoward: Depends, Osc. Even in Jubal's situation, they were trying to enter, but they weren't in the mindset to go, immediately, to deadly force...

OscagneTX: I suspect Jubal would've been hogtied and gagged, or something similar, at least.

LanaiHoward: I have demanded a real look at credentials and such when investigators throw their weight around, and they comply, giving me a slow burn.

BJ Maranta: (back)

OscagneTX: I have (knocking on wood) never been a subject of such an investigation.

Reilloc has entered the room.

LanaiHoward: The flower bed complaint was very appropriate and useful -- you are taking the goons into an area they haven't thought about

EBATNM has left the room.

OscagneTX: The one time I had to ask a cop 3 times for ID, he threatened to throw me in jail if I asked again. Result: One citizen's complaint that didn't go anywhere.

BJ Maranta: especially, IIRC, as they were sent in on a suspicion only... and the guy they were looking for was not considered armed and dangerous

Major oz: Taking anyone, especially officious SOB's, out of their routine, puts the victim one up.

LanaiHoward: Along the lines of the flowers...I really freaked out a rather cute Moonie in an airport, when she tried to pin a carnation on me while asking for donations, I munched away on the flower.

BJ Maranta: lol

Engr Bohn has entered the room.

OscagneTX: howdy, Major.

Engr Bohn: howdy

BJ Maranta: Howdy Major B

Engr Bohn: Howdy Major M

BJ Maranta: hee hee

LanaiHoward: Yep, Major. Sort of like the time I confronted a pair of American Nazis, and accused them of left-wing deviationism -- then, after I determined they didn't speak German, shrieked the lyrics of "Silent Night" at them.

BJ Maranta: rofl

Major oz: re: humor. The best scene in "Airport" was the slugging of the hari-krishna

LanaiHoward: (in German)

OscagneTX: So, if any of you guys had a son, under 18, who was the grade above captain in ROTC, then he'd be "the Major's minor Major."

OscagneTX: And if he dug for minerals, also, he'd be "The Major's minor Major miner."

BJ Maranta: phew... that's a long way to go for a pun, Osc...

Major oz: Should it be Majors.......BOM, or MOB, or...........

LanaiHoward: Osc, do I say "Kaor. A clean-limbed fighting man" to that

OscagneTX: So.. is all humor at the expense of the smallest monkey?

Major oz: OK,,,,,who's keepin us on topic here?

OscagneTX: <---

Major oz: Don't think so

Major oz: Only slapstick

BJ Maranta: Osc, wielder of the sword of topicality...

Major oz: Much is inadvertant.

Engr Bohn: perhaps -- but the definition of "the smallest monkey" is context-dependent

Engr Bohn: consider jokes about one's boss

BJ Maranta: lol

Major oz: I think it (the monkey scene) was necessary for him to understand that, and other kinds of humor.

OscagneTX: Ok... but would the boss be hurt, if he knew about it?

Engr Bohn: depends on the joke and how sensitive s/he is

BJ Maranta: How s/he expresses the hurt would vary also...

OscagneTX: Well... you could still say that the joke is at his/her expense. It just depends on whether the monkey in question has a sense of humor, right?

OscagneTX: That was the point I was trying to make in the thread about the Iraqi joke.

BJ Maranta: if said monkey can laugh at him/herself, and how cutting the joke is...

Major oz: Confession time: It took me a very long time to understand WHY mike finally caught on in the small monkey scene. And I'm not really sure I ever completely have understood it.

OscagneTX: The iraqi in the joke is definetly the smallest monkey. But recognition of it, and joking about it, may be a way to cope. Releasing tenstion or some such.

LanaiHoward: Not quite a joke situation, but I'm thinking of both some fictional and real situations where, say, a prisoner under rough interrogation laughed in his tormentor's face. There are POW reports it was one of the best defenses.

BJ Maranta: That's what humour is all about, no?

Major oz: Not for me

Major oz: I tend to see the greatest humor in absurdities.

Major oz: lemmings.....shoot themselves in zero g.......

Major oz: that kind

OscagneTX: Well... let's ask the question Mike asked Jill... think of an example of a joke that's _not_ at _someone's_ expense.

Major oz: puns not allowed..........?

Engr Bohn: puns are an example of absurdity

Major oz: my point

OscagneTX: That's not at the lemmings' expense? And by extension at the expense of lemming-like people?

OscagneTX: /grin/ puns are at the expense of the audience.

LV Poker Player: Puns generally don't get the belly laugh response, which Mike specified

BJ Maranta: folks... I have to head out... chat at y'all later

Engr Bohn: hmm... even "why did the chicken cross the road" is at someone's expense -- namely, the person the joke's being told to (who spends too much time thinking about it)

Engr Bohn: seeya, Major M

OscagneTX: 'night, Major.

Engr Bohn: gotta step away for a moment -- little creature's not going to bed like he should

BJ Maranta: Cheers!

BJ Maranta has left the room.

OscagneTX: Where Everybody knows your name~~

Major oz: I have not bought into the idea that humor must be at someone's expense.

OscagneTX: You don't have to, Major... we're just hashing this out

BookOworm has left the room.

OscagneTX: I think it's pretty accurate, if you exclude the "oh, isn't that cute" kind of humor and stick with Mike's "belly-laugh" premise.

Major oz: I know..........I am just having trouble catching on.......thinking, perhaps, that I am missing something fundamental.

LanaiHoward: Humor can be a defensive weapon. It's a way of dealing with stress. Consider, though, the Celtic bardic tradition of the ultimate sanction against a ruler being a jesting song.

Major oz: Blue mud and all that..........

OscagneTX: Think also of hysterical laughter. Not "laughing a lot", but laughing uncontrollably in a completely innappropriate circumstance.

OscagneTX: That'd be tension release, no?

Major oz: As the sage from Yakima said: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it".

jcgsmtop1 has left the room.

Engr Bohn: "the giggle loop"

OscagneTX: giggle loop?

Engr Bohn: the full explanation requires several recently-emptied beer glasses...

OscagneTX: I have a twice-empties beer pint right here. Let me refill it, and return, and we can hash that out.

Major oz: Laying on the floor in a circle , with head on bellies?

Engr Bohn: but the nuts of it is (from BBC's "Coupling") that you're in somber situation, for example a moment of silence at a funeral...

Engr Bohn: and you suddenly realize how inappropriate it would be to giggle right now

Engr Bohn: so you dare not giggle

OscagneTX: b

Engr Bohn: but now you're finding your struggle not to giggle to be funny

Engr Bohn: so you have to fight giggling even harder

Engr Bohn: because if you do giggle, it'll be a laugh now

Engr Bohn: and a laugh would be very inappropriate

Engr Bohn: so now you're trying hard to avoid laughing

Engr Bohn: which is even funnier

Engr Bohn: etc

OscagneTX: Ah.

Engr Bohn: until you can't fight it anymore, and you have a belly laugh during a minute of silence at a funeral

Major oz: I lost the point...........

OscagneTX: Does this sort of tension release count?

Major oz: hokay

Engr Bohn: Oscagne mentioned laughing uncontrollably in inappropriate situations

OscagneTX: After all, we were talking "humor" not "laughing".

OscagneTX: Just because you're laughing at something, doesn't make it humorous.

Engr Bohn: I think in the "giggle loop" scenario, you are your own smallest monkey

OscagneTX: yeah, I can see that.

Major oz: The poor guy that laughs........does he see humor in the situation. Or is it those who see him laughing that see humor (those that don't get pissed off)

OscagneTX: I think the funniest humor probably sees the comic, or the person that originally has the experience, as the smallest monkey.

Engr Bohn: Oz, of course he does -- that's why he's having such a hard time avoiding laughing

OscagneTX: I'd guess a person that can laugh at himself has cleared one of the hurdles to being a fulfilled person.

Major oz: The slapping fish dance: The slapping is not funny. The falling in the canal is not funny. The silliness of haveing such a sketch -- now THAT is funny.

OscagneTX: That's a poser.

Engr Bohn: gotta run -- sorry about not staying longer

Engr Bohn has left the room.

OscagneTX: 'night

Major oz: see ya

Major oz has left the room.

OscagneTX: I can't see a small monkey in the fish slapping sketch. That doesn't mean there isn't one.

OscagneTX: Anyone still awake here?

SciFiman33 has entered the room.

OscagneTX: Howdy.

SciFiman33: I'm late as usual!

OscagneTX: That's ok.

SciFiman33: What's going on?

OscagneTX: The conversation has faltered, though.

LV Poker Player: I'm back. Your right, sure not much to catch up with

OscagneTX: I think M Oz has us. I can't think of an object of the fish slapping dance. And it's definitely a belly-laugh situation.

LanaiHoward: (timesharing a bit) all right - I give up. Is the fish-slapping skit in RAH? Monty Python, sure.

OscagneTX: Well... we're talking about the _nature_ of humor, so Python is fair game.

OscagneTX: I think Pix's intention was to debate the Nature of humor, as proposed by Mike in SIASL. So, any humor would be germaine.

LV Poker Player: gotta go cya

LV Poker Player has left the room.

OscagneTX: Well, unless there's an objection, I'll declare the chat concluded.

LanaiHoward: I can perhaps offer an alternate subject based on a post I just made, but maybe the gods don't like us tonight

OscagneTX: oh?

OscagneTX: Howard?

LanaiHoward: Well -- the post picked up on something Vance proposed -- that FUTL and BtH were thought experiments. I tried to expand on the theme -- where RAH was contrasting utopias and dystopias, as opposed to just bad government...

LanaiHoward: or the challenges of nature, technology, etc. I'm feeling my way to a characterization

OscagneTX: Ah, ok.

OscagneTX: I think we're pretty much dead tonight. Would you like to do that as a topic in its own chat?

LanaiHoward: Could be -- let's see if it draws comment on the newsgroup

OscagneTX: Okay.

LanaiHoward: in that case, g'night all.

OscagneTX: g'night.

LanaiHoward has left the room.

OscagneTX: Let's call it closed, then.

Reilloc has left the room.

OscagneTX: I'll stick around in case pix or someone shows up.

DavidWrightSr: I'm still here, but tied up so haven'

DavidWrightSr: tt been able to contribute. Sorry

SciFiman33: Could we have more advanced notice of Chat Topics?

OscagneTX: Do you read AFH, SFM?

DavidWrightSr: Yes.

SciFiman33: Like a month ahead?

OscagneTX: We're doing them every two weeks now, as far as I can stretch it.

SciFiman33: Yes I only got to page 104 on Siasl.

SciFiman33: Where will the dates and topics appear?

OscagneTX: The chat july 1 and 3 will have something to do with private ventures in space, probably post the lead off early next week.

DavidWrightSr: Are you on my mailing list?

SciFiman33: Don't Know?

DavidWrightSr: Did you get an email last night about tonight's meeting?

SciFiman33: I am a member of the THS.

OscagneTX: David, I didn't get an email until yesterday.

SciFiman33: No!

DavidWrightSr: Ok. let me have your address and I'll add you and soon as we get a fixed topic or date for the next one, I'll notify everyone again.

SciFiman33: I found out on the AFHNews

DavidWrightSr: You must have missed the leadoff a couple of weeks ago.

DavidWrightSr: Hello?

SciFiman33: I will be at WesterCon from July 1 to4 and not available.

OscagneTX: Oh... are a lot of afh'ers going to do this? I'll have to postpone.

DavidWrightSr: Do you want me to add you to the list?

SciFiman33: I saw Jame Patterson signed up.

OscagneTX: We have a guest probably going to be here for the next one... but I wouldn't want to do that unless there could be a good turn-out.

OscagneTX: I'll post a query on the ng.

SciFiman33: Bye.

DavidWrightSr: See y'all Saturday

End of Discussion

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