Dialogue on the Threshold

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Sunday, 16 May 2010

De Risu et ridiculo

from Johannes Kuhl Marpurgensus, Theses de risu, fletu, et locutione

Risus est diductio oris in transversum, facta ab homine, propter rei ridiculae sensum & considerationem, ad declarandam animi voluptatem. / Descriptio ex forma subiecto, obiecto, efficiente & fine. / Subiectum, recipiens Homo. / Obiectum res ridicula, sive sit factum sive dictum novum, insolens, inopinatum, argutum, admirabile, ludicrum, ineptum, indecorum. / Caussa efficiens externa est sensus rei ridiculae, motus musculorum, thoracis & buccarum. / Interna partim anima rationalis, partim facultas ridendi, partim imaginatio & consideratio rei ridiculae, partim affectus cordis inde resultans. / Forma diductio oris in transversum, seu extensio rictus in facie. / Finis, declaratio voluptatis ex re percepta. / RISUS Sonorus vel Insonorus. / Sonorus, qui fit cum sonitu excitao a spiritu e pulmonibus per guttur exeunte, propter illius ad partes oris internas allisionem. Hic fit Sine clamore vel Cum clamore, & dicitur Cachinnus.

Laughter is a drawing apart of the mouth crosswise, made by a man, on account of the meaning and consideration of a laughable thing, in order to make known the soul's delight. / Description according to form, subject, object, cause and end: / Subject: a receptive Man. / Object: a laughable thing, be it a deed or a thing that is novel, unusual, unexpected, witty, surprising, trifling, inappropriate, unseemly. / The external efficient cause is the meaning of the laughable thing, the movement of the muscles, chest, and mouth. / The internal [cause] is partly the rational soul, partly the faculty of laughter, partly the imagination and a consideration of the laughable thing, partly the favourable mood of the heart thence resulting. / The form is the drawing apart of the mouth crosswise, or the spreading of the opened mouth across the face. / The end is the expression of delight on account of the thing observed. / LAUGHTER is either resounding or soundless. / Resounding laughter is produced from the lungs by the breath and comes out of the throat with a sound, on account of its striking against the internal parts of the mouth. This might be without loud noise or with loud noise, and is called Cacchinus (loud or cackling laughter).

from Rodolphus Goclenius, De Physiologia Risus & Ridiculi

Goclenius divides laughter into two species: laughter properly speaking (proprie dictus) and laughter improperly speaking (improprie dictus). Laughter properly speaking can be simple/absolute or κατά τι [at something]. Simple laughter is more unrestrained (effusior) and is also called Cachinnus [loud laughter]. Laughter κατά τι is called subrisus [literally 'sub-laughter', also with the meaning 'a smile']. Laughter improperly speaking arises from tickling (e titillatione); it is the laughter of the monkey, a simulacrum of laughter. Laughter is also to be defined according to the species of the laughable thing (rei ridiculae). These species include the strange or novel (insolentia), the unshapely or uncouth (deformitas), the unsightly or shameful (turpitudo), the unbecoming or indecent (indecorum), witticisms (argutiae), and things unexpected or surprising (inopinata).

Exempla Ridiculi sunt Ludicrum Depositionis Scholasticae crepitus ventris, cum quaeritur apud Aristophanem in nubibus, orene, an podice sonum edant culices, & sexcenta id genus alia.

Examples of the laughable are the jest of the scholastic deposition on the fart, as when in Aristophanes' The Clouds there is an inquiry into whether gnats emit noise through their mouth or their anus, and innumerable others of the same kind.

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