Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why a blog?

Let commence the writing of the blog!

I intend this space to be less a site of regular, well-crafted thoughts, observations, and arguments than a series of links, quotes, videos and other media that randomly comes my way. Given my recent (and not altogether welcome) foray into the blog world of others, I feel that I need a space in which to draw attention to, comment upon, deride, pillory, praise and celebrate the various comings and goings of the lives, thoughts and writings of others.

The name "Bitter Laughter" comes from today's reading of Beckett's Watt: "Of all the laughs that strictly speaking are not laughs, but modes of ululation, only three I think need detain us, I mean the bitter, the hollow and the mirthless . . . The bitter laugh laughs at that which is not good, it is the ethical laugh" (48). For Beckett (or at least his narrator), the bitter laugh is the basest form of laughter, while mirthless laughter is the "risus purus . . . the laugh that laughs . . . at that which is unhappy" (48). I mean this site to be a source of ethical laughter--not moral superiority, per se, but a healthy finger-pointing at the bad, rather than the unhappy. To laugh at the unhappy may, perhaps, be to laugh in its fullest sense, but it lacks humor; its intent is less to bring to light the hidden than a form of self-referentiality by which the self maintains itself through self-identification. As Tyrus Miller notes about such pure laughter, "It is the self-reflexive laughter . . . of the survivor in the face of alterity and death, the subject's minimum self-confirmation, the minimal trace of the instinct for self-preservation. I laugh, therefore I (still) am" (Late Modernism, 49).

I leave the mirthless laughing for some other blogger. This blog is intended to induce bitter laughter.

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