Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Very Funny, Mother Nature Part 2

I apologize - I just realized that my full blog did not post the first time! Trying this again...

We, us men and women, are in control of our environment. We decide when we will drive, where we will shop and what we will eat. We create lesson plans, go to work, prepare for tests and complete homework. We are the dominant figures of power in this world with the freedom to execute the final decision of our choice. We knew what was coming last Saturday and thought we were prepared for it: oh, how wrong we were. Since reading Douglas' "Jokes" and living through a week of the tundra that is Baltimore, Maryland, I have come to a new realization: Mother Nature is hilarious. You want to have class? Go to work? Tutor at Cristo Rey? Step out of your room? Oh no, no, no, Mother Nature had something else in mind. Our perceived human dominance over the environment is a perfect joke structure. According to Douglas, "this joke pattern...needs two elements, the juxtaposition of a control against that which is controlled, this juxtaposition being such that the latter triumphs." As humans, we grow so accustomed to dominating all other aspects of life, that we are utterly surpised when the roles are reversed. We spend so much time forecasting, preparing and controlling the way by which the weather affects us, that it is completely shocking when the weather suddenly triumphs. This situation is Douglas’ ideal joke format in which the ‘inferior’ becomes the ‘superior’ while the ‘superior’ discovers that it is not as outstanding and untouchable as it believes itself to be. The joke structure is perfect: the only question is, who’s laughing?

What is interesting about this set up is that the target must also be the audience. Mother Nature does not pick her prey according to race, gender, political party, religious affiliation, or level of intelligence. No matter your city, country or region, you are a potential target, or should I say, prospective butt of the joke. This shared position of target and audience accounts for the incredibly varied emotional response that extreme patterns usually receive. Just as a target may respond angrily to a joke that attacks their dominant political position, he may react similarly negatively to twenty five inches of snow covering his car.

Last week, Mother Nature had a ball as the snow ceaselessly trickled down from the sky only to pile up inch by inch on the frigid ground. Looking back at this firsthand experience of the environment stepping out of its inferior position by dominating us superior beings with my newly found ability to apply the joke structure to all sorts of situations actually brings some humor to the ‘snowpocalypse.’ If a person were able to look past the pain that comes with understanding the damage created by the snow, and instead allow the joke to turn to ‘nothing’ as Kant would imply, he would probably find the situation quite funny. We, the controllers, were shocked, arrested to our rooms, and attempting to dig out. The act of shoveling, I believe, was the funniest of all, especially when the snow began to blizzard. As much as I wanted to help the men shoveling outside of my window, after reading these articles I could not help but laugh at what they were doing: attempting to reassert their authority over the environment. Unfortunately with the hilarious and ‘inferior’ drifts constantly blowing about by Wednesday, those attempts were quite fruitless.

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