Category Archives: philosophy

Office Life

Supposing you complete primary and secondary education in a semi generic field, life has one great parking lot for all aspiring world changers: The Cubicle.  Jobs you can get will involve varying degrees of virtue, interest, and money, but regardless, you will likely spend time in one of these baleful anti – productivity pods.  This is not a workspace as much as it is a crucible (notice the word similarity?), for your sanity.  As always, advice is never definitive, but here’s what your author has seen work.

Primarily, WORK.  Figure out what’s expected of you and DO IT.  Not hard, just exacting over long periods of time, and it gets very old fast.  Still, this job makes you the money that keeps you afloat and in housing, food and fun, so attend to it.  Nothing good comes of having to move back to the parent’s basement, (If you’re lucky enough to have the option.)  Whatever you’re doing is better than the job you DON’T have.  This WILL bend the brain, and induce boredom and sleep, which segues us to other topics.

Food and drink are another obvious thing to keep at hand.  Coffee.  Lots and often.  Bring an espresso machine to your desk if allowed. Otherwise, water and snacks to keep you from getting cranky and snapping at the drones you’ll be surrounded by.  Keep friendly, keep frosty.  The job you’re doing can likely be done by any drone, but it won’t get any more interesting if you can’t hack it at the basic level.

SLACK OFF.  Preserve the job, but don’t let the sanity go away.  Read, post on internet forums, write, anything, but always have something you can do to keep yourself occupied at your desk.  Don’t let it become the priority, but don’t let the job rule your life either.
LMNO, fellow writer and schmot guy, recommends using this as the reason for figuring out how to do your job more efficiently.  Take care of business so you have more time for your own stuff.
(Get QUICK with ALT – TAB to avoid scrutiny from co workers and supervisor types.)

Finally, go home.  Get out of the office and do other things.  Keep active and have fun.  If you find yourself worrying about work at home, or loosing sleep over it, find another job.  What you do to live should be worth the 40 hours a week, and not rule the numerically superior off time.

Being a Discordian Daddy

I’m a little neurotic anyway.  I think I’m also probably just on the edge of being OC.  Anyhoo, ever since I stumbled upon this Discordian thing, I’ve used it to reassess things I do in my little life.  One of those being Daddyhood.

I was a Dad before I was a Discordian.  Or, I was a Dad before I discovered I WAS a Discordian, or at least, a Dad who had inherently shared some Discordian-like philosophies.  I think it was really the discussions that lead to the BIP metaphor and pamphlet where I really started to reassess how I was operating as a Father.  And I’m not talking about the basics of feeding, clothing, providing shelter, that sort of thing.  It’s really more about the guidance I provide her.  I’m well aware that no matter what I do, I WILL be a major factor in how her bars in her BIP are built.  There’s simply no way around it, not that there should be.  The question becomes, how can I best allow her to maximize HER control over her bars? 

An easy example is when she was a young toddler she took a fascination to trains.  I think it started with a free book the pediatrician gave us during one of her checkups.  A basic board book about trains.  Naturally, she eventually became aware of Thomas the Tank Engine and became enamored with the TV show and the toys.  Western societal norms suggest that these would be “boy toys”.  When you see the commercials or ads in magazines, they show little boys dressed in blue playing with these things.  Rarely do you see a little girl.  Now, I know, I know, “big whoop, you let your girl play outside of the gender box.”  And you’re right.  But the thing of it is, there are many parents out there who would steer a little girl towards Barbies and away from Trains and Trucks.  And it can often be an unthinking or unreasoned reaction.  This is what I try to avoid, without becoming anal about it. 

I think this falls under the “picking your battles” meme that is pervasive in many a Parenting book or magazine.  Where this meme falls short, however, is delving into normative behaviors.  It’s great to explain to a Parent how sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fuss over whether or not they eat every single carrot.  But what I would like to see more of is talking to parents about not making a fuss over every time their child acts a little goofy in public.  I think many parents try so hard to prevent their child from becoming Dennis the Menace that they end up unwittingly caging their character.  The joyful anarchy of childhood needs to be unrestrained and allowed to explore the territory of the world.  Obviously, this has to happen within the confines of safety and security. 

Discovering the Discordian philosophies and being a part of the development of the BIP ideas has been a very good experience for me as a Daddy.  I think I have developed a better understanding of just how much I can impact without knowing.  It’s given me a unique perspective on my role as a parent.  As much as I need to keep her physically and mentally safe, I also need to provide the freedom for HER to find out who she is.  It is a joy to see it unfold.

What it means to “think for yourself”.

Ah… what it means to “think for yourself.”

Most of us don’t, most of the time. 

I would include most of PD.com in that, sometimes.*  Because this gets wrapped up in one of the problems many of us have found to be a core issue of Discordia: the Filters, the Grids, the Prison Bars, the vital and trecherous habit of compartamentalizing.

If you start at the raw state (not the RAW state, mind you), you get an assload of sensory input.  So, the brain, all by itself, starts putting things in categories.  “This is like that, so we will associate these with those.”  Eventually, we work our way up to a rough understanding of the world.

This process tends to work pretty well, so we start using it in other ways.  But this is where we really start running into trouble.  Our compartamentalizing turns into generalizing, and slips into “All A is B.  This looks like an A, so it must be B.”  We look at new experiences as if they were old ones, so we can put new things in established compartments.

Essentially, without knowing it, we tend to fall into the habit of trusting people, or things, or ideas that are comfortable to our brains.  They get inside our bullshit detecor perimeter fence.  So when something happens, or someone says soemthing that falls within our trust zone, we accept it as truth without question.

Mind you, this is a fairly useful habit if you actually want to get things done.  There is much in this Universe that doesn’t affect you, and that doesn’t need to be parsed in fine detail.  I would guess that 95% of the shit that gets thrown at you every day isn’t really worth your time to fine tune.

But it’s that 5% that gets you.

So, back to that original point.  What is “thinking for yourself”?  I’d say it’s the art of going back to your assumptions, categorizations, habits, and tendencies, and breaking them down.  Figure out where you got your opinions.  What influenced you?  Do you trust them?  What are the counter arguments?  Which works best for you right now, not when you were 13?  Is “just because” a good enough answer?

You break down your opinions, and sniff out where you just went ahead and trusted something without a second thought.  That doesn’t mean you have to reject it; many times, you end up agreeing with it.  But now you have a more solid foundation of what you think.

*Do you like how I’m E-Priming the shit out of this?

Discordia ’08 – Why it’s relevant to me

Discordia will always be more relevant to me personally than in any kind of “cause” or “movement”.

Yes, things in society are fucked up, yes “everyone” thinks that “everyone” else wants things to be this way, and there is nothing that they can do about it as individuals. Yes, they are wrong.

But all of this means nothing to me.

I am not an activist, I don’t go out of my way to try and convert people anymore. I used to, but then I thought it was mandatory or at least expected. Since I decided for myself that it wasn’t, I don’t do it. I don’t expect people to wake up unless they want to do it themselves, I certainly don’t expect it to ever make sense for them unless they do it in the hardest and unfunniest ways, but that may be my jaded and bitter inner self talking.

Discordia is not a movement, it is not a purpose, it is not a cause. It’s a state of mind. A state of mind that connects a diverse group of people who wouldn’t give each other the time of day if they met socially in other circumstances and didn’t have the call signs Discordia offers, the “fluff” like 23, Eris or Principia Discordia.

I like that. I like talking to people who I normally would never talk to, who would normally never talk to me.

Discordia is at times an excellent way of tying some of us together to work on projects that normally would never be worked on, like Paths and Shrapnel, PosterGASM and some of the weird and wonderful art projects that have grown out of these forums.

I like that. I like working with people on plans and projects that may have some relevance to how I think about my life, or can help decorate it in a way that makes me question what decoration is.

Discordia will always be relevant to me in some way because of this. Its worth far outweighs the effort of getting anything back from it.

I like models, I like art, I like exploring the weirder aspects of our psyches, and the even weirder methods of exploiting what we find.

I like to laugh, hate, cry and love, as we as humans are meant to, not as we have been conditioned to. As I’ve only learned to do with some intense soul searching and some pain. Discordia has been the chair I’ve sat down in when I’m weary, the desk I’ve used to write some of the most personal and important things I’ve ever written, it has been the mirror in which I’ve seen what I am, what I was and what I want to be.

And I’ve learned to not care what others are thinking about it all, except in specialised circumstances, for example: when I feel like it.

I know what I’ve learned, I’ve learned to question what I know, and I’ve learned to learn more, always learn more.

For me, Discordia is a question, an answer and everything else in between, and it is so huge that I could spend a lifetime exploring it.

Is Discordia relevent? Certainly for me, maybe for you.

One spag’s take on Shrapnelâ„¢

Shrapnel. Something exploded, and a piece of it embedded in your flesh. Now you have to carry that around with you for the rest of your life.

It affects you. In changes the way that you behave, you take the experience of being hit by that shrapnel with you in every decision that you make. Even if you remove it, the scar remains. Even in its absence, it informs your decisions.

For the most part, the explosions are essentially random, when taken from a subjective view. Someone else planted these things, and you walk right into it. These things may have exploded centuries ago, but the shrapnel is still in the air. Still able to pierce into the heart of you.

Often, they tell you where to go. They push you onto new paths, or keep you going down the one you’re on. They can blind you, they can cripple you, they can make you afraid to continue. They can accumulate, like scales, like armor, like a lead weight. Given enough time, they can even render you impervious to other bits of shrapnel. But not forever.

Shrapnel is not subtle. It’s just that we don’t recognize it for what it is. We get hit full in the face, and we don’t even realize what just happened. We know [i]something[/i] just went down, but what?

You heard a symphony.

You read a story.

You went to school.

You got a job.

You fell in love.

You got into a fight.

You fell out of a tree.

You were mugged.

You got an erection.

You listened to a preacher.

You took drugs.

You got lost in the woods for 3 days.

You lived your life. And you carry that with you. Each thing that got the limbic system pumping, every “aha!”, all the moments of simmering rage, each instant of bliss… They all left their bits of shrapnel in you. They all push and prod you in directions you might not even have intended to go.

But you don’t have to be one of the walking wounded. The choice is yours. Self-surgery is messy, but it’s possible. Search out the bits that got stuck into you, see if they’re worth keeping. Then get a pair of pliers and an exacto knife, and get to it.

Paths: Finding the ‘Z’ in the ‘A to B’

You’re born, you live, and you die.

We all do, (although, sometimes a lot of people seem to be barely living at all).

Some philosophies may tell you that the journey is more important than the destination, or that the the journey is itself life.

Personally, I think that may be bullshit. The journey is the journey, no more, but no less.

Let us break this down. You are at home (you’re born) and you have to go somewhere (death). Your entire “life” will be spent making your way there.

Do you go there as fast as possible, limit your exposure to pain and uncomfortable ideas?

Do you go there in a sweet car, drinking, on drugs and surrounded by women, living fast and ignoring more intellectual pursuits?

Do you instead take a scenic route, walk by the canal, looking at the beautiful scenery, trying to absorb as much of the “good things” in life before you die?

Or do you stay at home, waiting for it to come to you?

There is no correct answer, and you could do any combination of these, and (almost) infinitely more.

What’s interesting is when you look at how this applies to your entire “real” life, and you superimpose the paths that others of our species take. Our (almost) infinite choice is reduced to a nebulous collection of people doing exactly the same thing, taking the same routes to death.

Why is this? Do you WANT to be a sheep?

Me neither.

Break out the map and compass kiddos, it’s time to explore the badlands. Let us see what lies off the well beaten paths that lead to our anonymous deaths…

Pathways and Shrapnel: An Open-Source Study and Exploration

path.jpg

Birth and Death are 100% Grade A Certainties (oh yeah taxes too, or so the saying goes). The only questions seem to be around matters of when and how. We know we emerge from our Mother, in some fashion, and then return to the Earth at some undetermined place and time. But we know it WILL happen.

We burst into the world at Point A, birth. Or sometimes we have to be pulled out depending on our level of infantile stubbornness. Immediately we set foot at the beginning of a Path. It is one of many Paths that eventually lead to Point B. At Point B we may exit in a brilliant flash of flame and sound. One of our vital life-sustaining mechanisms may crap out. Or perhaps someone will bring a bloody war to our land and we die in a house to house cleansing. Of course, it also might be something as unceremonious as having a heart-attack in the middle of a massive bowel movement. But hey, shit happens right?

In any event, we have before us a series of roads to take to get to Point B. Of course, as young infants we really don’t have a clear concept of Point B, so it initially doesn’t really inform our Path. Well, there are natural fight or flight responses like “Feed Me.” But it’s really focused more around infantile narcissm than it is any actual fear of starving to death. Indeed, as kiddos we see that damn Coyote fall off the cliff a zillion times and he keeps on breathing. So the worst that might happen to us is we turn into an accordion for a few seconds. As we grow, however, we establish more control and more responsibility for our own orienteering. At every step of the way (or maybe it’s every other step, I’m not entirely sure. It would be quite a feat if anyone figured it out), it seems, there is a new turn that can be taken; left, right, left-right. Which do we choose? Why do we choose? Are we even aware of it?

Along the paths there is another phenomenon that is occuring. As we are walking our Paths, and deciding where to go (whether through instince, deliberate thought process, because someone told us so), we are subjected to, and subjecting others to, Shrapnel.

458px-shrapnel.jpg

Shrapnel are the bits of experience, events, ideas, and so on that are flying around as we walk the Paths. It’s as though there are roadside bombs that are in a continuous state of detination. For example, we walk along the path as a young child, and at a certain point, we are subjected to Religious Shrapnel. Whether or not to follow our parents’ deities? Whether or not to NOT follow deities? Whether or not to follow a deity different from our family’s? Whether or not I’ll burn in hell if I don’t eat the cracker? As we are approaching the age of 18, we experience Shrapnel from education and career. Guidance counselors are asking you if you want to attend the college fairs. Your Dad is asking you if you are going to that ivy-league college he did. Or perhaps your Mom runs a flower shop and is expecting you to take over. After all, it is called Me and My Daughter’s Blooms. But do you really want to peddle flowers the rest of your life?

There are, of course many, many other examples of Shrapnel. Also. it is important to understand that we aren’t passive bystanders in all of this. We too are part of the Shrapnel creating process. When we become parents we subject our children to expectations, wishes, and wants for their lives. (If all parents’ wishes for their children actually came true, we’d be living in a world comprised solely of Doctors and Lawyers. You’d never be able to get onto a golf course.) As neighbors, we may be part of a collective attitude about how people’s houses and yards should look. (Oh look, Sanderson is putting out another fucking Pink Flamingo. And gosh, it looks like it is fellating the Garden Gnome! Gasp!) As members of Political Party X, we put signs in our yard saying, vote for Rudy Obama. We are throwing out just as much as others are throwing at us.

Do not be disillusioned about Shrapnel. It isn’t all bad. There is the Shrapnel of Art and Creativity. Walking by a park and seeing some folks drumming and creating music. (Drum Circles aren’t just for hippies anymore.) The infective beat that is travelling across the air, that mandates that you move and groove. The lady down the road who is a brilliant artist, displaying her work at the local Sidewalk Art Exhibit. There is the Shrapnel of Happy Childlike Anarchy. Your little girl acting like a goon, and you can’t help but to want to play along. Experiencing the joy in improvisational imagination and going with the flow. This is the sort of Shrapnel you WANT embedded in your flesh. For it too will inform your path. And besides, when you ARE strolling on your path, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable if you were doing a little jig along the way, while whistling a fun little tune? Whistle while you walk. It seemed to do the trick for the Dwarvish 7.

So what to take away from this? Well, first off, make sure you read the other observations of Shrapnel. And then, take a few minutes and think about your path. Think about where you’ve been, who’ve you encountered, what you put in your mouth (ewww, you did that?), and how’ve you navigated life thus far. As you think of the different experiences you’ve had, think of what might have happened if you hadn’t had those experiences. Caution: the point isn’t to think about how you could re-write your life. That part’s done, no good to dwell on it. But, how can you use this perspective going forward? What kind of mental armor can you obtain to shield you from that which may blow you off course? What kind of mechanisms can you construct to welcome in those things in this world which may benefit you? Or better yet, how can you have more bearing on your bearings?

Because seriously, you know Point B is coming soon. Why not make it one hell of a ride?

Some thoughts on Shrapnel

Once upon a time, a little baby was born. There is nothing remarkable about this- I’m told it happens every day- and there was nothing remarkable about this baby, except that it was you, or me, or them.

This baby was pristine, a sponge for information and experience. Little though it was, it was growing rapidly, learning every thing it could as fast as it could. It had to, you see, because it’s a big bad old world out there.

Everything it learned chipped a little bit of its personality away, or added a bit to it, every packet of information, every experience. Much like that saying about sculptors “freeing the statue” from the crude stone its encased in. Except that the sculptor is blind, like that woman in the Lionel Richie video (hah! “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?!” except she’s blind…), but I digress.

The tools that are used to “sculpt” this baby into the badass human that will stride the earth on two hind legs, using it’s opposable thumbs like it just doesn’t care, is what I call shrapnel.

It’s when you are told about God, it’s when you fall in love for the first time, it’s when you realise, as a baby, that bawling your head off will have your mother come running.

It’s the “ripples” of things that happened long ago, still affecting us today. The shrapnel thrown out by history, causing us to throw out our own shrapnel into the future. It blows your mind, it really does.

Shrapnel is necessary, and vital, to who we are, to what we do. And for Discordians, it can be a tool. It’s another medium for spreading a little bit of chaos. It’s not “good” or “bad”, though you may want to assess which bits of it you have sticking in you that aren’t really needed. Unwatched, that shit can fuck you up.

In conclusion, Shrapnel is an idea that has yet to find its time. In the right hands, it can be a kick ass suit of armour AND a big-fuck-off flamethrower. For me, being aware of it is enough until some wiser heads can show us how it works.

Okay, I’m done preaching at you for now, I’m back off to my ivory tower, where I’ll probably look for that Lionel Richie video and laugh about it all night.

~~~Payne

Humour is a weapon….so you better learn how to use it!

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
– Mark Twain

“Wit is a dangerous weapon, even to the possessor, if he knows not how to use it discreetly”
– Michael de Montaigne

Both Montaigne and Twain were, of course, entirely right in their assessments.  Especially Montaigne, that genteel and erudite man of letters, whose scholarly essays were always filled with amusing and witty anecdotes, usually at his own expense.

But the fact remains, humour is a weapon.  In fact, its the best weapon there is.  How powerful is a potential Adolph Hitler if all his voters are laughing at him?  Bigots and fundamentalists of all stripes have a decidedly dim view of humour for this reason.  It’s not a product of force, but of the intellect.  It doesn’t reduce cities to rubble or execute heretics, but at the same time it can be used to kill a man stone dead, in the eyes of those whose respect and fear he needs the most.

Even the traditionalist militarists and corporatists are suspicious of humour.  Its not something that can be used for inflating an R&D budget, nor acquired and stockpiled at great cost.  Equally, its subversive tendencies chafe against the regimentation and hierarchical nature of corporate life.

The thing is, with all weapons, you have to know how to use it right.  Just like in a knife fight, where an inexperienced idiot with a blade is a greater danger to themselves than an unarmed expert, you have to know how to use humour properly, or else you’ll end up hoisted on your own petard, as it were.

Because of this, a sort of rumour, or perhaps a scurrilous lie, has been spread about humour.  Apparently, its an inborn trait, like blonde hair, or height, or wanting to be a corporate liar.  Some sort of genetic fluke which makes some people funny and others not.  And if you are one, then you can never be the other, try as you might.

It is, of course, complete and utter bullshit.  No doubt some people have more of a natural flair for humour – perhaps an ease with large audiences, a natural disposition to be the centre of attention, an excellent command of the English language.  But humour, like any other skill and especially writing style, can be cultivated and developed, up until the point it can be forged into a weapon, a perfect design to smash enemies and leave them looking like fools.

Unfortunately, this means we’re going to have to do some incredibly unfunny analysis of humour and how it actually works.  If that bothers you, then I suggest you look away…now.

Right, now we’re rid of them.  I suppose I should start from the beginning.  What is the point of humour?  Psychologists have actually found that humour, while an innate trait among most humans, also serves some interesting sociological purposes as well.

Usually, these are divided down into six reasons:

we laugh out of instinct
we laugh out of incongruity
we laugh out of ambivalence
we laugh for release
we laugh when we solve a puzzle
we laugh when we regress

Additionally, two meta-reasons are often added to this analysis:  we laugh out of surprise, or because we feel superior.

Surprise is obvious and easy.  Its also one of the most universal reasons for laughing.  Embarrassment and trickery are core to this idea.  Obviously, you have to maintain the level of surprise for this type of humour to work.  Easily guessed wordplay might be witty, but lacking that factor, it is not especially funny.

Surprise is, in essence, the cardinal rule of comedy.  It should have some role in almost everything funny you do.  Without it, comedy ceases to be.  Its a curve ball that throws the audience off balance.

Superiority, of course, is one that should actually interest us too.  All good humour has an element of both tragedy and cruelty to it, to be really effective.  What adds to that effectiveness is the feeling that those who are not the target of the joke, or who guessed at or appreciated the joke, are superior to those who are not.

This may sound, in theory, elitist, but it need not be.  In fact, comedy of this sort is often the great equalizer, documenting and mocking the failings of the great and powerful, of people who want to put you in your place.  Comedy of this sort is the true razor blade of rhetoric, its use is to cut the other person down to size.  Its transgressive nature questions assumptions and cherished beliefs.  As social criticism, it is especially effective because humour goes beyond restrictions and social norms.  Humour can also be used to maintain the status quo, to ridicule out-groups…but that sort of humour is boring and stale.

Instinctively, we laugh as a verbal substitute for an attack.  The laugh of the triumphant is the one that says “I am better than you.”  It is a way of venting hostility when physical assault is not practical.

Incongruity makes us laugh because something is internally inconsistent, it is paired or matched in odd ways.  When we realize why, or how, we laugh.  Often this is related to the idea of superiority, though the original appearance of the incongruous may be surprising as well.  The two combined are especially effective.

Ambivalence is similar to incongruity, but instead of the clash or conflict of irreconcilable ideas or perceptions, ambivalence is the simultaneous presence of mixes signals.  Once decoded, the language expresses both of these feelings, usually love and hate, at the same time.  It is an attempt to maintain dignity, to cover up our foolish errors, and is especially useful in self-deprecating humour.

Release is a pretty obvious one.  We laugh to release tension, to remove ourselves from uncomfortable or dangerous situations, to air truths that may be otherwise hard to face.  This release is especially useful if it can be experienced as a group event – and the element of surprise must be removed.  The audience must know what lies behind the door, or what happens next to the over-curious cat.  That is where the rule of surprise no longer applies.

After we’ve been roughed up, its nice to see someone else take a few lumps.  The idea is that if we are laughing at them, then they cannot laugh at us.  This humour can spark a revolutionary sentiment, or quash it, giving safe release to emotions that may be better used getting people to work at something else.  Consider its use carefully.

Puzzles are also elements of surprise.  Its a matter of configuration, the set up.  You have to frame a problem or a riddle in a certain manner, then propose a valid, if surprising, answer to it.  We take delight in the surprise, and comfort in the superiority of knowledge.

In terms of regression, Freud argued that comedy was as important as sleep.  It allowed for more primitive urges and desires to be expressed in acceptable social ways.  Especially for infantile, sexual or aggressive behaviour.  A playful mood, adopted as relaxation, is the most common form of this sort of humour (consider the comic strip – often the most common form of humour regardless of nationality or culture).  This also includes a desire for social approval however.  Regressive humour is rarely continued without a form of social acceptance, especially from authority figures.  It is therefore a tool to be used when you and your audience share a target in common, someone whom you both dislike and feel needs to be made an object of ridicule.

In short, humour is a manifestation of what society really believes, but dares not say.  It pierces beneath the bullshit and spin to get at the Really Real (Perceived) Truth of the matter.  Because sometimes we cannot deal with tragedy directly, we rely on humour to ease our way to acceptance.

Sick humour, in and of itself, is rarely effective, except perhaps as an opening gambit, a ploy to attract attention.  Beyond that, it can actually have a negative effect on audiences.

So, that’s the why of humour, the idea as to why we need it.  Now we move onto the nuts and bolts, the how of humour.  These are the necessary ingredients for any comedic routine.  Without them, the humour may taste somewhat off or wrong, and in worst case scenarios, ruin the entire joke.

The six principle ingredients are:

Target
Hostility
Realism
Exaggeration
Emotion
Surprise

The target is the most important aspect of this.  A successful target must fit the persona and style you are using, as well as the interests of the audience.  Therefore, pick your battles carefully, and with this uppermost in your mind.  Just remember, you have to reaffirm some the prejudices of your audience, and be very unfair to whoever your target is.  Oh well, such is life.  There is no room for balance or explanation in a joke, you have to be as ruthless as a General.  See the weakness, and exploit it for all its worth.  Deny the goodness of your target.

If you cannot pick a person, then pick an experience with universal appeal.  But I prefer the well known person route, since we are talking of humour as a weapon here.  Also, remember that if you do pick an experience, do not make it too broad.  It has to be specific in what it entails.  Driving is not funny, women who manage to multi-task every single fucking thing in the world while driving, however, can be.

Hostility is next.  Comedy is cruel.  In our case, necessarily so, because we deal with cruel people in a cruel world.  This hostility is a powerful antidote to the hostility many of us feel to those we are surrounded by in our every day lives – it is a release, because we all have an element of hostility towards something.

Authority is a natural target the world over for comics.  Remember it, cherish it, use it.  People all around the world hate their leaders, their systems, the powers they have to labour under.  This humour is nihilistic – no one is too powerful or too pure to be beyond reproach.  Just remember lots of people have sympathy for the underdog, so direct that hostility upwards.

Next to authority, money and business are also perfect targets.  Aside from that, angst, the painful knowledge of the ugly reality, is another one.  Merchandising human suffering is the fuel which angst runs on.

Realism.  Like all good propaganda and disinformation, comedy contains a kernel of truth hidden within it.  Comedy is essentially telling the truth via lying, the use of juxtaposition, surprise and the bending of language to give life to an unexpressable reality.

Most of the facts of humour should be logical and obvious, but hidden via convention and expression so that we don’t quite apprehend them correctly.  A major deviation from reality wont prevent humour, however it will likely not be as funny as a joke based on reality is.

Exaggeration.  Ah, poetic licence.  Humour is what allows people to suspend disbelief, and this should be used to its full advantage.  Absurdity, hyperbole and outright lying are all acceptable because, as the exaggeration signals to us: hey, its only a joke.  Often the foil to the realism of the joke, the two are held up and follow from each other to create the incongruity that results in laughter.

Emotion.  Hostility alone is not enough emotion.  There has to be an element of anticipation within the audience, the joke has to be built up.  In effect, you create tension, then you release it.  The audience is wound up, then down.  You must, in effect, adopt a persona which can bring about this effect within an audience.  Almost always, the best way to do this is with a character that shows a sort of boundless, almost infectious energy.  You also have to know how to use language.  Where to stop, where to start, where to pause – there must be a rhythm to your delivery.

Stand-up in particular is more a funny man doing material than a man doing funny material.  To a degree, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The man who is delivering the material is funny, therefore his material must be funny too.  This identity/rhetorical sleight of hand is not always true, but it is worth remembering and considering.  Delivery is key, and cannot be understated.

Surprise.  Of course, this was mentioned in the previous chapter, but merits a mention here as well.  Charlie Chaplin defined surprise in terms of a film scene in which the villain is chasing the heroine down the street.  On the sidewalk is a banana peel. The camera cuts swiftly back and forth from the banana peel to the approaching villain.  At the last second, the heavy sees the banana peel and jumps over it—and then falls into an open manhole.

The surprise cannot be telegraphed.  No matter what.  It must be genuine, or else it loses its impact.  You have to master the poker face, keep the audience in suspense for just long enough to pull the rug out from under them.

OK, this is getting far too long already, and I cannot possibly hope to include every single possible hint about comedy.  But keep these ideas in mind, play around with them, practice, and encourage creativity within humour!  And as you get better…put it to a use!

Honor in Humility

We can never see eye to eye if we never admit to ourselves that our visions contain blind spots. 

We each can see pieces of truth.
Pieces we accumulate as we navigate our Paths, in our Sphere of Possbility. 
As we pursue the honorable pursuit of living life to its fullest.

Where things get fucked up is when we take our pieces and hammer them together to form The Picture. 
Not taking into consideration that our blind spots have missed pieces along the way.
Pieces that others may have been able to see, and picked up along their Path. 

We know that our Paths intersect and merge in various locations. 
It is at these meeting places where we can pick up additional navigational coordinates.
By simply asking to see the others’ pieces of truth.
To have the humility to recognize that a collective pursuit of progress requires partnerships. 
And that we each will have different clues for the course. 

Far too often, however…

…we ignore…

and so…we diverge from a useful unity tackling the unknown…

…and carry on to what certainly will be dead ends.

“I don’t know” is a statement of strength, not weakness.
It is an acknowledgement of needing more input.  The weakness would be ignoring other insights for further information.
We should always want to know more, about that which surrounds us.  And about where it is we are going. 

There is Honor in Humility.  For in the end, it will help us on our way.