I am reading what might be one of the most mind-chattering authors I've ever encountered. The amazing Maria Popova introduced me to David Foster Wallace and my mental jaw has been dropping ever since. I'm reading "Consider the Lobster" and in a chapter called "Some Remarks on Kafka's Funniness from Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed", he writes:
"It’s not that students don’t “get” Kafka’s humor but that we’ve taught them to see humor as something you get—the same way we’ve taught them that a self is something you just have. No wonder they cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home. It’s hard to put into words, up at the blackboard, "believe me". You can tell them that maybe it’s good they don’t “get” Kafka. You can ask them to imagine his stories as all about a kind of door. To envision us approaching and pounding on this door, increasingly hard, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it; we don’t know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and ramming and kicking. That, finally, the door opens … and it opens outward—we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch."
This distorted perception of humour we have today echoed Krampus in my mind. Austrians have a tradition whereas, for Christmas, instead of parading with Santa Claus and his lutins in the street, they send in drunken college dudes dressed up as the Krampus monster. Not a funny sight, especially when the sole goal is to frighten kids. I kid you not! This is Austrian humour! I get the sense that humour, in its old, classical, continental version was a darker thing. I'm reminded of Kundera's critique (praise really) of Gargantua and admiration of Rabelais, of Joseph Campbell's sublimation of trickster gods as a majestic archetypal figure with an alien, yet necessary, sense of humour.
> Do you think we've gotten softer as a culture and that it's led to a shift in our comprehension of Humour? If yes, as we've gotten softer, have we lost something of the crude, yet essential, perception we used to have of reality i.e. we stopped talking about the door that opens outward?
> In other terms maybe, would you show Krampus to your kids? How and why?