Sunday, March 20, 2005

Freedom of Thought

It is a fearful question with no certain answer, the question of

I was going to do a post on the just-finished The Metaphysical Club, but I didn't really know where I was going with it, so I'm going to talk instead about this David Foster Wallace article I just finished reading instead, entitled "Laughing with Kafka."

Actually I'm not going to talk about it because it's late in the day and I have to pack for a trip tomorrow. (I'm bringing Gulliver's Travels and a book of plays by Euripedes.) I'm planning to go off and ponder the role of ex-formation in referential jokes. It now makes sense why referential jokes should be funny, but it doesn't really explain why they usually aren't.

Why you should mostly stop making referential jokes:
1. They're kind of lazy.
Think of your own jokes, or don't say anything at all. You're not allowed to earn funniness without the sweat of your brow.
2. They're not as funny when you say them.
3. They don't provoke genuine laughter.
Any hilarity is usually a combination of "I get the reference" and "The original joke was funny."
4. They mark a cultural regression.
There will come a day when we stop having original jokes to reference and begin referencing referential jokes. Oh dearie me.