Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Agora a sério...

"Taking things seriously is no barrier against pain. And while laughter won't make you live for ever, who wouldn't rather go to the grave joking? Spike Milligan took that literally, leaving instructions that his headstone should bear the inscription, 'I Told You I Was Ill'. Joking at the moment of death is a profound assertion of life. So if we laugh ourselves into existence, and aspire to be laughing still at the bitter end, the logical conclusion must surely be that life itself is a joke. Beethoven is said to have remarked, after he had been given the last rites, 'Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est' (Clap, my friends, the comedy is finished). Likewise, Rabelais is credited with 'Tirez le rideau, la farce est jouée' (Bring down the curtain, the farce is over).


Actually, seriousness is not incompatible with joking. It's a common mistake to confuse 'serious' with 'solemn', and to assume that seriousness of purpose can only be conveyed by solemnity of tone. It's an understandable error; we do have a marked tendency, we Anglo-Saxons, to answer the big questions with furrowed brow and down-turned mouth. An acquaintance of Dr Johnson, on hearing of his reputation as a philosopher, remarked, 'I have tried too many times to be a philosopher, but, i don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.' But cheerfulness and toughtfulness aren't mutually exclusive. It's simply wrong to assume that everyone who jokes about serious matters like death and pain is somehow failing to deal with them; that laughter is a childish, evasive response and that the only mature reactions are solemn, sober and po-faced. Telling a joke is not always a sign of 'not taking things seriously'. As George Bernard Bradshaw put it, 'Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh'."

Jimmy Carr & Lucy Greeves - "The Naked Jape"

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