in Space, Time, and the Imagination



Comedy in Space, Time, and the Imagination

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An Emotive Corollary to a Formal Definition of Comedy

 From Chapter 3, "An Emotive Corollary Definition," Comedy in Space, Time, and the Imagination, p. 62.


From an emotive perspective, then, we can give a second definition of comedy, a corollary to the formal definition: Comedy is the celebration of ongoing life and of the conditions or qualifications on that ongoing life, and comedy’s emotional power, is the power to evoke any emotional response people may have to a remembrance of the faith that the human race is destined to survive.

Neither the formal nor the emotional definition has provided any particular place for laughter.  As has already been shown, introducing the idea of laughter in any definition of comedy raises all sorts of theoretical problems: problems of how many laughs qualify a work as comedy, what kind of laughter such defining laughter must be, what happens to comedy when people refuse to laugh or no longer understand enough to laugh.  Introducing laughter into the definition of comedy also ignores the important place of comedy that does not employ laughter or that employs it only occasionally.  Nevertheless, everyone associates laughter and comedy.


[“emotional power” and “the power to evoke any emotional response” in the above definition are English paraphrases of the Greek word dynamis. Ed.]