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Unformatted text preview: ind of warfare called repartee, in which the tension is kept just without the bounds of real hostility, while
the audience sides with the one whose shaft is the most telling. In the lower ranks this interchange, which is
surprisingly frequent, is coarse and insulting. It is supposed to be a test of character to be able to "stand" these
attacks with equanimity and even to join in the laugh against oneself. To "kid" and take "kidding" is thus an
important social trait.
Humor is often used to expose the folly of the pretentious. Much of the stock in trade of the humorist lies in
his attack on the pedant, the pompous, the great, the new-rich, the over-important of one kind or another. To
find them less than they pretend to be gives two especial kinds of pleasure to the audience; the first the
stripping away of disguise (Bergson), and the second the relief of our own feeling of inferiority in their
presence by showing how inferior they really are.
Since inhibition wears on us, the great inhibitions are directly attacked by the humorist. Thus sex forms one of
the great subjects of humor, and from the obscene story told by those on whom the sex inhibitions rest lightly
to the joke about clothes, etc., told by those who mock the opposite sex, the whole idea is to bring about
pleasure in the release of inhibitton and the play of the mind around the forbidden. Freud has some interesting
remarks on this type of humor, which he regards largely as sexual aggression. It is necessary to say that the
release of inhibition is always that of an inhibition not too strongly felt or accepted. A really modest person,
one to whom the sex code is a sacred thing, does not find pleasure in a crude sex joke. Similarly with the
inhibition surrounding marriage, which is a stock subject of humor. The overearnest person dislikes this type
of humor and reacts against it by calling it "in bad taste." In the Middle Ages (and to-day among those
opposed to the C...
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This note was uploaded on 09/26/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 110 taught by Professor Kannan during the Spring '11 term at Anna University Chennai - Regional Office, Coimbatore.
- Spring '11