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clipboard-3Tragedy teaches many things to many different people. Words uplifting to one may mean less to someone else, much will be said and much more will remain unsaid.

The Canadian/British author Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) in his book The Complete Wild Body shows us something which seems to spring from a deep caring, and also from the realism about life. I thought it important enough to share part of the book with you here:

” I will catalogue the attributes of laughter.

  1. Laughter is the Wild Body’s song of triumph.
  2. Laughter is the climax in the tragedy of seeing, hearing, and smelling self-consciously.
  3. Laughter is the bark of delight in a gregarious animal at the proximity of its kind.
  4. Laughter is an independent, tremendously important and lurid emotion.
  5. Laughter is the representative of tragedy, when tragedy is away.
  6. Laughter is the emotion of tragic delight.
  7. Laughter is the female of tragedy.
  8. Laughter is the strong elastic fish, caught in Styx, springing and flapping until it dies.
  9. Laughter is the sudden handshake of mystic violence and the anarchist.
  10. laughter is the mind sneezing.
  11. Laughter is the one obvious commotion that is not complex, or in expression dynamic
  12. Laughter does not progress. It is primitive, hard and unchangeable.

The wild body, I have said, triumphs in its laughter. What is the wild body?

The wild body, as understood here, is that small primitive, literally antediluvian vessel in which we set out on our adventures. Or regarded as a brain, it is rather, a winged magic horse, that transports us hither and thither, sometimes rushing as in the Chinese cosmogenies, up and down the outer reaches of space.

Laughter is the brain-body’s snort of exultation. It expresses its wild sensation of power and speed; it is all that remains physical in the flash of thought, its friction: or it may be a defiance flung at the hurrying fates.

The wild body is this supreme survival that is us, the stark apparatus with its set of mysterious spasms: the most profound of which is laughter.

from: The Complete Wild Body by Wyndham Lewis, edited by Bernard Lafourcade, Black Sparrow Press.Santa Barbara.1982

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