SOCRATIC STAND UP
TRUTH, COMEDY & AUTHORITY
This Was Deleted From The Responses To The Post Linked, Below
I live in Hawaii; still, in many ways, a "primitive" society; up da country, anyway. But there are elements of their concepts of Justice, and Authority, and even Humour, which are also part of the modern American hi-tek legal, political and governmental systems.
"Face," usually associated with Asians, is always important, whether we care to admit it or not, here in America. Saving face, and affronts that could cause one to lose face, can lead to fatal confrontations. It's as if everyone believed that there were some sort of permanent, constantly updating universal mental scoreboard, showing how well respected or disrespected each of us was, by everybody else. I wonder if this wasn't the first "blogosphere:" A purely internal, mental, abstract world where opinions are real, almost concrete, and carry weight.
People will kill, or die for the opinions of others, or because of them: Even the opinions of those they themselves despise. The very idea that someone is THINKING of them drives some people insane. The mere act of looking at someone can be perceived as an assault: "Stink-eye," they call it here; malocchio, the hairy eyeball. And words of respect, or disrespect, are valued most of all. Even by Authority itself.
Here's the tie-in to Socrates, and to our current systems. What Socrates did wrong was not to think, or communicate, or teach, or even criticize. His crime was to mock Authority. It is the sharp point of the weapon of Humour that Authority cannot tolerate. In spite of our vast technological civilization, and all the massive institutions of government, the armies, the courts, the legislatures, the bureaucracy, and all their big granite buildings and STUFF, all of it seems to rest upon our opinion of it all.
If we have no respect for Authority, there is no Authority. If someone, like Socrates, or Lenny Bruce, say, successfully mocks Authority, it ceases to exist, if only for the span of a laugh, in our minds. The fear of this leads Authority to base itself, in turn, upon fear; to constantly maintain and remind us of their ability to kill, injure, imprison, or take the property of anyone who violates the dictates, or challenges the authority of our rulers. Few can laugh at that.
But Socrates did. Laughter in the face of Authority, even unto death, is the ultimate heroic act. It is a reminder that even the most draconian authority cannot get into our minds, cannot ever fully control us, and cannot follow us into death.
Laughter is an autonomic act. When something is REALLY funny, we can't control ourselves, we just laugh. Humour cuts to the most basic truths by hitting that autonomic button. It causes us to acknowledge, unavoidably, the reality of a situation, without regard to the consequences. This is dangerous, to Authority. They must always control Truth. But Humour reaches right down to the elemental level of Truth, which Authority cannot do. So, finally, it is Humour which has the real authority over us, not fear. Anyone can fight fear. No one can fight Humour.
Oh, sorry. I wasn't laughing at YOU. [snicker]
No, really, brah!
"The Comedy Of Politik: Socratic Semantics"
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