Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Expansive Poetics - 109 (Beauty, Humor (and no belly-laughter from television)

[A performing chimpanzee, "Zippy", watches tv in 1955]

Student:  Why do you find beauty in it (Benjamin Peret's poem, "Hymn of The Patriotic Old Soldier") if it's so crude ?

benjamin péret
[Benjamin Peret]

AG: If it's crude? Well, there's a certain delicacy. In this sense, he's parodying an old soldier. He's like a tough, funny, French, old soldier who's very frank, who doesn't give a shit for the army and doesn't give a shit for patriotism but is an old soldier and won his Legion of Honor and he's actually exhibiting a certain humanity - "To remember my ribbon of hour/I've painted my nose red/and put parsley up my nostrils/for the Military Cross."

Student: Yeah, it's..

AG: That's real speech

Student: (Well, it's in a) humorous form.

AG: Yes.

Student: How about..

AG: I find beauty in it.

Student: Yeah, it's very good..

AG: Human beauty, human beauty. The best beauty is human beauty. Yeah

Student: It's very compassionate and humane...

AG: Compassion. Absolutely.

Student: If you balance (it) up against (Louis-Ferdinand) Celine's vision of that same war

[Louis-Ferdinand Celine]

AG: Oh, Celine is just as funny, actually, in a way.  The social function of… I said "irresponsibility", I don't  mean, really, "irresponsibility", I mean "liberty" - Liberty, liberty - not being intimidated by reality.


Student: How about the comedy (that) we see on television? Is that..

Student (2): What comedy?

Student:  …also a belly-laugh to break the Cold War?

AG: There are very few belly-laughs on television

Student: I think so too.

AG: I haven't had a belly-laugh on television for years...I don't remember one single belly-laugh (except for the Marx Brothers) on television. I don't remember. Literally. I've never had a belly laugh off a television. Have you actually? Has anybody here actually had a literal belly-laugh, like a total.. 

Student: Yeah

AG: ..What was it?

Saturday Night Live: The Coneheads #SNL

[Jane Curtain, Dan Ackroyd & Lorraine Newman as "Coneheads" on "Saturday Night Live" c. 1975]

Student: "Saturday Night Live" used to be really good.

AG: Well, that might be. And that was considered a bit progressive.

Student: I mean, I might cry too from television, like seeing a sad story..

AG: Uh-huh

Student: Tears...

AG: Well, tears are equally good. Tears will do to dissolve the fixation, as well (laughter).

Student: "The Three Stooges"?

A 1937 short film about a crippled boy, starring the Three Stooges, presages the assistance that the Affordable Health Care Act is promising to Americans, including those with preexisting conditions.

["The Three Stooges" (Mo Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine) (c. 1938)]

AG:  "The Three Stooges" I'd buy. They're on television, yeah. But the regular program comedy of television hasn't been very…risible.. 

Student: I think it's evil. It makes people escape the whole creation.

AG: Agree. (I'll agree).

Student (CC): I… isn't this poem, though, when you say Celine's description of the same war, then aren't we ultimately connected to the reality of war and sadness?

Student: ..in that.. oh yes

AG: Well, there's a certain realism in that, too

Student: I was just thinking of...

Student (CC): Without much humor

AG: In Celine?

Student: No, I mean in war

Student (2): Journey to the End of the Night

AG: Well, people who have been to war say there's tremendous comedy in it actually because it's absurd, finally. Tragedy but also comedy. 

[Audio for the above may be heard here, beginning at approximately eighty-seven minutes in and concluding at approximately ninety minutes in

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