The absurd and the comic

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Title: The absurd and the comic
Author: Park, Philip Yong-Hyun
Abstract: In my thesis , I propose a theory that posits a connection between our absurd existential situation and our comic tendencies . I work within a framework of existentialist assumptions , the most important of which being the assumption that , as Sartre writes , "man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself ." Consequently , I focus on the process of how human beings use humor to form themselves by using it to form their conception of reality . What I propose in my thesis is not an explanation of humor as much as it is an existential interpretation of its source and function . I begin with an analysis of the absurd . After considering and rejecting the arguments against the claim that life is not absurd , I argue that the disunity that we encounter in the world creates a need within us for stability and that one of the main ways in which we find this stability is through the comic . I use Berger and Luckmann's analysis of reality construction in my argument that the connections that we form with others through comical experiences construct and maintain a system of knowledge that satisfies what Camus calls our "nostalgia for unity ," a desire that remains unfulfilled when we attempt to encounter the absurdity of human experience alone . The conclusion of my research is that it is through our laughing with others that we reify our expectations of reality . Our laughter at the objects that contradict our normative understanding of reality confirms that others share the same cognitive and affective position that we hold in a given situation , thus confirming our expectations of reality to be valid , a confirmation that protects us against the terror of the absurd .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /85956
Date: 2008-10-10

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The absurd and the comic. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /85956 .

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