Humour as an art of descent and negative dialectics : a deleuzian analysis of the functions of humour in Trevor Griffiths' Comedians

Title: Humour as an art of descent and negative dialectics : a deleuzian analysis of the functions of humour in Trevor Griffiths' Comedians
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2020, vol. 46, iss. 1, pp. 109-132
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

This essay undertakes an exploration of Trevor Griffiths' Comedians to delineate the socio-cultural, moral and psychological functions of humour in it and to scrutinize how Griffiths adopts a negative-dialectical method to assay the socio-political efficacy of a socialist aesthetics by counterpointing various modes of humour against each other in this specific historical period (1970s). Nevertheless, the common thread here, as will be demonstrated, is that the modes of humour permeating Comedians are saliently tainted by various shades of tragedy. Chiefly drawing on Deleuze's distinction between humour and irony, the thrust of the argument here is that, in Comedians, humour features as a means of psychological and ontic-ontological descent (into the sub- or unconscious of personal or national history) and of critical movement between immanent social-historical surfaces. Humour, in its negative-dialectical mode is also argued to feature as a political strategy – where both sadistic irony and masochistic humour are possible strategies. More specifically, humour serves as a catalyst for putting metaphysics into motion. Metaphysics, in Comedians, designates the metaphysical conception of history, to wit, history as a determinate, teleological narrative. To put such a metaphysical history into motion means to expose its immanence and reveal it to be a historical process and a human construct, susceptible to being altered.
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