Q: Can beautiful things be funny?
A: Humor’s a funny thing. Though many writers say humor’s tougher to write than drama, funny stories have always been harder to sell than dark ones. If I asked you to name the most beautiful story ever written, I bet you’d pick a drama, maybe even a tragedy. Beauty and darkness feel oddly close, whereas humor seems somehow more frivolous. Hence attempts to call comics “graphic novels” to make them more respectable.
Where do these associations come from? Maybe humor is mainly about incongruencies in the world, such as paradoxes in language or social relations, whereas beauty hinges more on congruency, elegance, symmetry, order. Humor may also be time-serving and culture-bound, beauty timeless and universal. Still, it’s a rare masterpiece that doesn’t have a dollop of mirth to lessen the gloom, and nature, the greatest masterpiece of all, is often wickedly funny. Look at a blobfish lately?
Jordan Chase-Young’s story “The Great Contradiction”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 26 November 2021.
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