Thesis

Supramoral satire and the destabilizing power of laughter

Forwarding the thesis that postmodern satirical laughter expresses and destabilizes society’s arbitrary foundation, this paper conceptualizes the role and method of the contemporary satirist. Disclosing the fictive grounding of society, supramoral laughter discloses the groundless ground of existence, a space devoid of positions of truth and moral validity. Supramoral laughter signals the underlying absurdity of existence. Mocking the mechanization and determinateness of cultural constructs, laughter affords the satirist freedom from the weightiness of convention. The paper conceptualizes the satiric disposition by analyzing representations of societal negation in literature and philosophy. The Jew of Malta depicts an example of the postmodern ironic destabilization through the iconoclasm of the protagonist, the supramoral Barabas. Barabas undercuts the structure of morality inherent in the play, indicating its constructive quality, exemplifying the spiteful element prevalent in ironic destructiveness. Soren Kierkegaard’s Concept of Irony explains the function of negative irony in the classification, “infinite absolute negativity.” His analysis of Plato’s non-instructional destabilization of society’s assumed actuality provides a abstract framework by which to understand irony’s supramoral methodology. Friedrich Nietzsche’s description of laughter’s liberating power further describes the destabilizing power of laughter, placing it in the context of the weighty philosophical tradition of Truth and morality. These differing expressions of satire and irony gather around a common theme, supramoral laughter is an emotive response to the attenuating power of society’s constraining practices.

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