Imagine this, you’re never going to have it

How often has it been said that the fuller the theatre, the more uncontrolled the laughter of the audience!

How dismal it is, that itself makes me laugh.

This is from Bergson’s classic 1900 study

On the other hand, how often has the remark been made that many comic effects are incapable of translation from one language to another, because they refer to the customs and ideas of a particular social group!

“The Underground” getting to watch a politically biting play together. You’d have to wear an actual mask to sit in the audience. How laughter builds off laughter with laughter in groups. That effect would be muffled by the masks. Isn’t that an absurd notion? The only way to truly laugh in a highly social way you’d have to all wear masks, STILL. Go there to not wear a mask, only to wear a different kind of mask. “Society isn’t THAT bad.” Okay, watch it maskless and risk your reputation then. “We can get together in secret.” Okay, that itself is absurd too. They hide the kind of jokers I’m talking about so well that you probably don’t even know what kind of laughter I’m talking about here.

Yes, this is the nature of our social order – something like the above would be required.

I’m sitting in the front row without a mask, you can go ahead and wear one and look like a fool though.

You arguably can’t “clean your soul” without group laughter. There’s no other way to do it. Pop five different pills, that probably won’t do it either. Not the “coarse” laughter of “educating people to acknowledge the rationality of the government” either. That doesn’t clean the soul, it numbs the pain.

I try to talk to you about the most elevated things. Some find what I determine to be elevated upsetting. In this case, I believe that the finest art in our particular historical context would involve the Pale. If that Aristophanic idea of “unmasking” is perceived as eternally valuable, indeed one of the highest values of art if you follow Hegel, then that’s going to be one of the best settings. Just trying to look at it “surgically”. Aesthetics is supposed to be a science. If you do heart surgery on someone and you botch it because you’re ignorant about something, that patient is going to die. The viewers of Hollywood are clearly dead, they don’t get their souls cleaned through its products. This is because it only ever fortifies the world of appearances. We’re more than that, we have a truer self.

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