Category Archives: sociology

nuts

Mcmurphy-one-flew-over-the-cuckoo-E2-80-99s-nest-25307357-1920-1080

Which one of you nuts has got any guts?

— R.P. McMurphy, from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975

laugh more often

stolen / borrowed photo of Danny DeVito laughing

maybe i just need to laugh a little more often

ya know?

 

Me and Marco as Beware the HaberdashMarco came out to Boston this week from Seattle and i have to say — i don’t think i’ve laughed so hard for a long, long time

and i think for the amount of time he was out this way we actually laughed more often than i normally do on your average daily or weekly basis

 

i feel a little better because of it, too

and it was all about completely silly shit, too

we didn’t need to go to a comedy club or listen to CDs of stand-up comedy in the car or anything

i think we’re just both imbued with this kind of comedic outlook on life

certain perfectly inane sequences of events can set off huge bombing guffaws of hilarity at times — and i know a lot of it is kind of just in our minds, if you know what i mean — its a particular sensibility that you collectively cultivate with a friend or a small group of colleagues or acquaintances that quite naturally develops and grows within the space and experience of the relationships we build in life — and its something unique to just certain friends, just certain groups of people in your life, based on the time you’ve spent and the amount of discussions you’ve shared over the years

sometimes just a look can set it all off, ya know?

a knowing nod

you know the deal, right? 

as a friendship builds — as any relationship builds, crumbles, ebbs and flows — the mutually-shared experiences and the things you talk about build up a sort of pre-verbal vocabulary that is very much based on a private language that each of us develops without a need for words

and its a phenomena that can really only occur with live presence

at least that’s my feeling about this concept

here’s Marco — a photo i took of Marco — when we lived out at The Church Street Apartment in Watertown back in the mid-90s

marcoChurch_desat

the photograph could be called A Portrait of Marco with a Shovel, Plastic Watering Can and a Guillotine — that’s the title i would probably give it if i were including it in an exhibition in some local café, full-well knowing that nobody would purchase the photo or anything, but that coffeeshop-going viewers might spend a few minutes looking and fabricating their own interpretation of the private language Marco and i were using on that rather mild, Autumn day

you can just see it in the photograph, too, right?

the expression on his face isn’t due to a conversation we were engaged in, i wasn’t holding up and squeezing a rubber duck or anything like that, in the way they would at a Sears Portrait Studio back in the 70s

there’s a familiarity between us — between me, as the photographer, and Marco, my subject here — that you can feel if you really tune in to the warm details of the end image — i don’t know if you’d consider the photograph to feel casual or friendly, but you can see a certain kindness being expressed by Marco

i believe you can’t develop that depth of emotional connection and feeling without actual, live, human presence

when Marco and i wrote, recorded and performed as Beware the Haberdash back at about that time — in the early to mid-90s — i know that our connection through the music-makingour connection: through vibration and rhythm; through composition and improvisational, collaborative interplay; through talking about the music or planning for a show — our connection dove into a far deeper subconscious zone where speech, instruction, conversation — all of these things — were no longer necessary for us to actually communicate with each other through our shared live and present space 

its a rather fascinating phenomena

and its a phenomena that i am currently trying to better understand through my research into another very closely-related, uniquely human phenomena — the phenomena of laughter

my own personal beliefs — as informed by both my currently-collected, active research and from my gut — indicate that laughter, like poetry, is both immediately mutually-understood by a group of people at the higher, signal level within a given social context and is also involved in such a complex intersection of intellectual, cultural and physiological systems that simultaneously shatter that understanding due to all of the actual environmental and behavioral life experience we bring into the live and present social moment

to back up just a little bit here, let me first establish a background concept, a simple definition, if you will, that helps set the stage in a better light

humor and laughter exist as a living, breathing,
organic and found cybernetic, social system

its a system that learns and grows and develops and ebbs and flows just like any relationship that gets established between any 2 or more organisms in the world

at one point in human history — one could guess from the research done to-date — laughter evolved

we developed a way to laugh

we most likely started laughing as a human beings for the verySame reasons that any species begins to mutate or discover a new special skill or feature — we started laughing as a means for survival — as a way to endure certain psychological tensions that come embedded in our earthen, natural environment or that pulse within our sociological and cultural ecosystems

laughter came before humor

there’s no chicken and the egg that i can fathom from what we know about the theories and vast, eclectic academic areas that touch upon the phenomenas of humor and laughter, which include:

  • humor theory;
  • laughter theory;
  • tickle theory;
  • comedy;
  • psychology;
  • philosophy;
  • sociology;
  • neurobiology;
  • phenomenology;
  • language and linguistics;
  • natural selection and the theory of evolution;
  • cybernetics;
  • conversion, translation and interpretation;
  • and energy;

 

unfortunately this blog veryMuch reflects the rather powerful subconscious manner in which i produce and pursue my work as an artist, designer and performer — bits and pieces come to me in a rather random and sometimes chaotic fashion — i believe in chasing my inspiration in the actual moments when she whispers to me, so this means many pieces will feel undone, messy, but hopefully vital and real { or at least as real as you can get on the internetz }

so i leave you here with my thoughts from today to reflect upon

much of my previous thoughts on these subjects can be found on a myriad of other websites i publish to — for more on this thread of research and thought on laughter, humor and the areas in-between, check out Laugh Institute up on the webz — or you can always check back here to poke around some more and read up on my progress on the laughterLife, my continued experiments, writings, design and research into laughter as a human phenomena

Check out Beware the Haberdash online

a note about power

AliceWalker3

The most common way people give up their power

is by thinking they don’t have any.

— Alice Walker

why we laugh

laughing-kid

i’ve done a lot of research in the areas of ‘humor, laughter and the areas in-between’ as a means to understand what makes things funny or not, and its a fascinating topic with numerous theories for us to consider — the leading theories include: The Superiority Theory; The Incongruity and Incongruity-Resolution Theories; The Benign Violation Theory; The Mechanical Theory; and The Release Theory

all of these theories delve into the rather interesting and subtle dynamics around the conditions that produce laughter from human beings, but i’m not so sure they actually even begin to answer the question:

Why do we laugh?

i remember reading all about Peter McGrath’s Benign Violation Theory in The Boston Globe a while back — McGrath’s claims behind his theory almost promise a rather compact and cozy little concept around interpersonal dynamics that almost stand alone as the veritable Holy Grail behind Humor and Laughter Research — a sort of ‘one simple theory explains it all’ — but closer examination and consideration, especially when bringing up examples of humor that actually purposely do not intend to produce genuine, out loud human laughter, subtly shifts Benign Violation from a category of laugh theory into more of a comedy strategy

i’d like to suggest that many of these theories
completely miss the mark

these theories do not actually explain why human beings laugh but instead examine the contextual circumstances that almost mechanically provoke the human response of laughter in only certain situations — know what i mean? 

its taken me quite some time now to really look at this subject matter in the proper light and to interpret and really analyze all the theories and nuances of laughter, humor, comedy and funniness — and i feel its oversimplistic and almost unfair to think that only one theory does the trick here, because laughter is a very complicated human phenomena, almost as complicated an area of study as our belief systems and our cultures

but, as a means to completely contradict myself now, i feel that we can, in fact, explain the ‘Why?’ question — and embed all of these various theories around the circumstances surrounding laughter into the major reason we laugh — with a new theory of laughter evolution as i’m about to try and articulate …

toward a
New Theory of
Human Laughter Evolution

an initial theory to answer the question ‘why do human beings laugh?’

this is going to sound totally ridiculous, maybe even funny to you, but i believe we laugh as human beings because we have to

we simply need to laugh

as human beings, we all walk through the world as these living, breathing vessels for various psycho-dynamic energies

some of these energies can be positive and some of these energies can be negative

but the energies build up inside all of us as if we were containers made of flesh and blood and bones that simply hold these mysterious energies

bottle-humor

antiquated scientific theories actually suggested that liquids called humours literally coursed through our bodies — and that these liquid humours were what triggered joy and laughter in an almost endorphin-like fashion

but i believe that the energies we build up { not measured as liquid or solid or gas in form } need to be released — and one of the most positive ways we can release extreme build-ups of our internal energies is through laughter

one other consideration that might make this a wee bit more complex and realistic as a pseudo-scientific theory follows

we, as human beings, probably initially cultivated laughter as a release system in an iterative, evolutionary manner as our species needed to adapt to the tense circumstances of our world — this does not mean that i subscribe solely to Freud’s Release Theory, but our need to release unhealthy energy is the most likely original reason we began to laugh as a species — in early human pre-history we needed to ultimately release the harsh feelings and energies building up inside as we dealt with our environment and the ways of the world — and laughter is a rather transgressive human expression of these potentially negative energies that feel far too intense for the body and mind to handle in a healthy manner

so, we need to laugh to survive

laughter is an adaptive behavior we’ve developed over time as a means
to psychologically brave the challenging experiences we encounter in life

and now — depending upon our contextual circumstances in the moment — we’ve evolved a rather intriguing set of socio-dynamic systems around laughter { beyond our original adaptive ‘energy release’ needs } with a multitude of complex, situation-based rules to govern when, why and how we laugh, and whether or not a particular expression of laughter indicates certain levels of social acceptability and awareness

its all fascinating stuff, right?

i plan to post more here and elsewhere on the webz along the way as i conduct further research into laughter and humor through Laugh Institute with the final outcome being a new book project that i’m affectionately calling the laughterLife as inspired by the fourth stream of cyberSurreal subConsciousness from my graduate design thesis confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy

[: stay tuned :]

Want to participate in a Laugh Study?

 

 

a theory about comedy strategy from Joan Rivers

joan-portrait

as most people by now — Joan Rivers passed away yesterday
on August 4th, 2014

i truly enjoyed her comedic style and especially loved watching her latest project Fashion Police many an evening with my wife — the level of social commentary on the rather insane world of celebrity and fashion actually seemed to be the perfect target for her brand of ribald, insult-based humor, and even though she sometimes projected harsh criticisms in a supremely public delivery forum, she also intentionally added a level of humility and humanity to every conversation she engaged in on the show { and throughout the span of her entire career, too } by making Fashion Police a conversation instead of a ranty dialog

i actually found her to be quite endearing, regardless of the harsh and vitriolic persona she portrayed as part of her little critique panel for the Hollywood Junior High School culture covered so endearingly in the mainstream media — she also very cleverly hand-picked her more gentle colleagues on her panel to offset her mean transgressions against these almost holy figures the American public seems to so readily worship — her nightly posse, Kelly Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic and George Kotsiopoulos, nicely accompanied and balanced out the Rivers’ material in a really beautiful and thoughtful way, which I’m sure was the natural, genius orchestration behind Joan Rivers and her larger than life personality and comic approach to life

fp-joan

i think i particularly loved her blunt and ofttimes vicious injections knowing full well that Rivers was consciously targeting her own culture, the culture of stars and fashion and appearances — the surface culture that covers all of America — as much as she was part of it, she constantly thumbed her nose to it in the most deliciously self-deprecating and hilarious way imaginable — and, Rivers also seems to have left a legacy of philosophical insight into the strange dynamics of comedy and funniness that can be rather easily exhumed from various sources around the web

i find this quote particularly fascinating — it seems to confirm the theories that Portland State University communications professor David Ritchie, PhD discusses as his Truth in humor theory in Metaphor and Symbol as most likely derived from Freud’s Relief Theory of laughter and humor 

I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.

— Joan Rivers, 1933-2014
we love you, we live on through your life devoted
to humor, social commentary and laughter

some notes about the social web

Smiling Asian woman taking a selfie

our lives changed a lot with the advent of the social web

but the social web alone isn’t the sole force behind the major shift in our cultures and our behaviors as this brand spankin’ new, always-on society of netizens take the social web and add the personal portability of our mobile devices PLUS the embedded camera technologies that make instant photoSharing as easy as peasy-ness and them’s the 3 magic ingredients that made for some major changes in the world { at least in the Americas } the mobile phone also cracked open the world to this sort of constant tower of babble that we’re all exposed to ‘out there’ in the multiverse as well — and you know what i’m talkin’ ’bout here Willis — the aural patina of constant chatter in public places like our big chain convenience stores, malls and other previously semi-polite spaces now fall victim to the ubiquitous right we all now enjoy as carriers of mobile technologies — anyplace, anytime you like you can make a call and unleash the oftentimes mindless detritus of your daily proclivities upon your publicSpace neighbors around you — and, of course, you can snap a selfie or totally lifeStream just about any part of your day, no matter how ultra-trivial it might feel { or actually be } to create those special instaMemories { complete with orange-faded photo filter effects and cutesy captionings }

of course, as a cyberSurrealist, i completely understand some untapped potential for all of this self-oriented social media broadcasting goin’ on in the world all around us

as annoying as it sometimes feels, its interesting to think about our photo-documentiatic obsessions and just how much of our human experience — whether its considered to be an actual reflection of the mirror-life we’re all creating or some sort of simulated performance alter-egotistical manifestation of what we want our lives to be projected as — gets uploaded to the interwebz …

a transitional shift

from a user-centered experience designer’s point of view, and as a self-proclaimed ‘transitional’ { mentally living somewhere between our current, over-mediated lifestyle and the previous all-analog lifestyle that came before the advent of these myriad new technological advances }, its psychologically fascinating to see the show that’s being put on and to understand the subconscious outlet that’s being documented and curated every single day — these communication channels and our usage, whether intentionally used for the purpose of cataloguing the transition or not, totally capture the immense changes we’ve all been dealing with, and the results of our introduction to these new avenues of output and interaction have tremendous and very telling influence over who we really are as a society and what we desire and what we’re becoming

these telecommunication technologies, like drugs and alcohol and other addictive consumer products, reduce our inhibitions and allow us all to behave the way we were born to behave sans our previously semi-polite social standards — walls and windows in the previous social structure remain cracked and broken open and the little Freudian Pandora’s Boxes residing at the core of our psyches have been picked open with all of our interior monsters now unleashed upon the new world of more honest { but unfortunately not nice } human behavior through the stage of our social media we see the performance of our subconscious selves acted out on an hourly basis — we share, we like, we comment with the tips of our sublingua straniera interiori — our inside-out existence technologically augments the subconscious beasts within us all, unless, of course, you’ve figured out a way to get some conscious control over what you so choose to tweet and share and instaPost to these supposedly social broadcast mechanisms

read more at cyberSurreal on tumblr

dolphins

Dolphins-talk-language

we’re not all that different from dolphins

some definitions to consider

ocean

i look back lately — at my previous research and active design work at Dynamic Media Institute

i am re-opening my book — my design thesis book, that is — to once again take a look inside my veryOwn openContainer, and my intention to continue my investigative research into laughter, cyberSurrealism and the human experience swells and motivates me with a newfound retrospective clarity that i just frankly wasn’t ready to tackle back then

as i delve deeper into the investigation — an investigation that brings me to new areas of dangerous confrontation and heightened, intense self-awareness — i ready myself and my future audience of readers and participants with these 3 crucial definitions stolen from — or, uhm — cited from the Wikipdedia as core concepts for your consideration — important terms of reference regarding the underlying purpose and nature of my work

 

awareness
Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception andcognitive reaction to a condition or event.
Read more about Awareness on the Wikipedia

consciousness
Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: sentience,awarenesssubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”[5]
Read more about Consciousness on the Wikipedia

mindfulness
Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”,[1]which can be trained by meditational practices[1] derived from Buddhist anapanasati.[2]

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati,[3] “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassanasatipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.

Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorderanxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.[4] It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
Read more about Mindfulness on the Wikipedia

 

All preceding definitions from this blogPost came from the infamous Wikipedia out there on the webz. Go check it out { as if you’ve never heard of it, right? } and don’t forget to occasionally donate a bit to keep the project funded and smoothly movin’ along — we all learn soOOoOoo much from our little Wikipedia that could now, don’t we?

 

wikipedia1

 

shazbot

robinWilliams

now you are free, my friend, finally free — and you are with all of us, in all of our hearts and thoughts and in the energy that feels good and alive and light and happy

thank you

you gave us so much

a self-reflective note { to myself }

enjoyCapitalism

my mind constantly explores personal concepts and beliefs in an automatic way that i sometimes can’t control { i don’t dare try to control these streams of subConscia — strange inner enigmas unravel, drift, separate and then come back together again all on their own at times, which i find extremely invaluable } — little conflicts between my interior and the world we live in, all of the veritable psychodynamics that seem to invisibly sizzle in a constant ebb and flow between the conscious and the subconscious, poetically heal themselves or sometimes split into smaller branching tributaries that continue on like a roaring rivertide

sometimes the deepest underbelly thread of  my thoughts stream up into my surface consciousness on a short jaunt to the Men’s Room at the office or while strolling over into the kitchen

today was a typical day

i was thinking about Capitalism again

yup, you got it — the ‘C’ word ;]

one of the many ‘isms‘ i seem to put out there in a metaphysical ring to wrestle out the strengths and weaknesses of these philosophies around culture and governance, civilization and society

i thought something along the lines of:

even though our Democracy-based societal backdrop here in The United States overwhelmingly bows down in a subservient, unholy way to the financial Darwinism of our Capitalistic, { originally } unintentional reliance on a pure economic hierarchical sense of sovereign oligarchy — i expect people to actually act a LOT better than that

you know? i’d never really clearly articulated it like that before i guess

i felt a little happier about it — about these kind of horrifically unfair societal inequalities, injustices and broken promises that seem to just continually fall under attack from certain ‘rogue’ forces out there

i think just clearing up my expectations about the system and people and behavior i could separate myself and my own beliefs and feelings about the unfortunate purely-Capitalistic sway of our governing, rotten ‘rules of play’ to at least subtly stumble upon the realization that maybe i’ve been practicing a better way to be as a human being and as a citizen of this country { and hopefully the world }

this conceptual distancing and the solidification around my personal expectations for myself, my family and my friends and colleagues sharpens my focus a bit and helps me understand that i might just be alright after all

flaginShadow