There is a variety of laughter: chuckles, sniggers, grins, smirks, giggles, smiles, hysterical roaring, screaming, chortling, sneering, guffawing, tittering, crying.
What makes something funny? Paradoxically, the thing that makes us laugh is most likely lonely, dark, ironic, abnormal, absurd, causing the human body to loop and curl in ways that shift its centre of gravity, and the human mind to twist and turn in ways that ostracize it from society and law.
In the wake of April Fool's Day, when popular postcards and greetings often have men wearing fish heads or women with robot bodies, our laughter issue utilizes the idea of this inversion of normalcy to incite humor.
Henri Bergson, in his treatise On Laughter, attributes one important term to the thing that inspires comedy: INVERSION.
Inversion is a process wherein a human being, with the illusion of life, really operates in accordance uncannily mechanical or less than human arrangement.
Sarnath Banerjee's series, 'Island' explorers the idea of the ocean as an island, “for a grounded sailor banished from sea”. His characters float in bathos and inky blue loss. The writer tells the story from the perspective of an unreliable, deluded, sinister and forlorn narrator. The writer becomes an island.
Pors & Rao’s Uncle Phone inspires a similarly fictional, nostalgic call. Two characters and the writer speak to each other in puzzles, the distance between them stretches as does the phone, and the formula applied to the three parts of the story mimics the formulas applied to create a work of art through the medium of science. Fundamentally, the creatures that Pors & Rao create are funny because they are mechanical and appear human. When the pattern is realized and the secret is revealed, you cannot help but laugh.
Kannagi Khanna’s photographs access the irony with which we live with the inconsistencies of our everyday lives. Women from a slum are made to imitate striking poses from Hollywood’s most glamorous. In this disturbing mimesis is laughter. In the emotional, ethical and moral detachments that the photographs ask from you is a smirk.
Finally, Princess Pea takes the idea of the giant head, depicted so often in popular culture, makes it in the shape of a Pea and wears it to tell a sad story of an Indian girl parodying common ideas of beauty. The princess is first seen outside her studio, then inside a miniature painting, then everything is askew, and finally she is left with big orange princess tears, isolated from any environment. In these eccentricities, in the feeling that something is not quite alright, is a tragic comedy.
Remember the man slipping on a banana peel? The muscular man falling off a ladder? The man wearing a hat on his face, reading a newspaper? The lady dancing and her dress flying off with the wind? The fan that falls on a table which falls on the cat who drowns in the milk which the fat old lady next door steals? The polar bear playing the piano? The robot falling in love? The man with a chicken head?
Laughing and crying are not so far apart, and the art in the four stories in this issue are simultaneously hilarious and tragic.
Our artists are all below the age of 40, as are our writers; support them by reading and listening and engaging with new ideas that make our minds shift from the utterly normal and revel in the odd. The worst thing that will happen is someone will laugh at you. They’re really just lonely.
Wishing you a slow read,
Every sunbeam, every strain of music, every sapling and starfish is ultimately the regeneration of a previous something, a collection of somethings, taking on new shape. At the most indivisible level we can comprehend, all life is nothing more than atoms and molecules dancing their way through various forms. And if everything comes from something, it stands to reason that everything must go to something as well.Read More