The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious
The Joke and the Varieties of the Comic
He wrote: ” We have approached the problems of the comic in an unusual way.
It seemed to us that the joke, which is otherwise regarded as a subspecies
of comedy, offers sufficient distinctive features to be attacked directly,
and so we have avoided considering its relation to the more comprehensive
category of the comic for as long as possible, thought not without picking up
a few useful hints toward the comic on the way.
We have no difficulty in discovering that socially the comic behaves
differently from the joke.
It can be content with only two persons, the first, who finds what is comic,
and the second, in whom it is found. The third person, to whom what is
comic is told, reinforces the comic process, but does not add anything new to it.
IN the joke, this third person is indispensable to consummating the process of
bringing pleasure; on the other hand, the second person can be dropped in cases
where it is not a question of a tendentious, aggressive joke.
The joke is made comedy is found in persons above all, and only by
the extension in objects, situations and the like.
With respect to the joke, we know that the sources of pleasure it wants
to promote lie not in other person, BUT IN OUR OWN THINKING PROCESSES.
we have learned further that the joke can sometimes open up again sources
of comedy which have become inaccessible, and that the comic frequently
serves the joke as a facade, taking the place of the fore-pleasure which,
as we know, the joke-technique is otherwise meant to produce (P.149).
None of this exactly indicates very simple relations between the joke and comedy.
On the other hand, the problems of the comic have shown themselves to be so
complicated, so successful in defying all the efforts of the philosophers to solve
them to date, that we cannot expect to master them in a surprise attack, as
it were, by approaching them from the angle of the joke.
IN investigating the joke, we also brought along an instrument which
others had not used before: our knowledge of the dream-work;
inquiring into the comic, we have no similar advantage at our command, and so
we may expect that e will learn nothing more about the nature of comedy than
what the joke has already shown us, in so far as it belongs to the
[ category of the ] comic and carries some of its features
either unchanged or modified in its own nature.
Razi Ghaemmagham Farahai