Irish journalist John Waters discusses his new article “‘Trust the Experts’ Is the Virus.” In it he cites comedian Jimmy Dore’s bit on COVID-era mass formation psychosis, which in retrospect was hilarious as well as terrifying. But what’s so funny about mass hysteria?
Waters: “We come back to the hypothesis of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. In his book, Laughter — An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, in which he proposes that humour derives fundamentally from rigidity in human behaviours and affairs. We find funny, he says, anything that breaks away from the natural patterns of human life, by becoming mechanistic and predictable. Hence, what makes people laugh is the absence of alertness and elasticity in the object of ridicule, i.e. forms of sclerosis arising from the culture of the group, things that deviate from the law of life, which abjures rigidity and mechanisation. But, here, the rigidities are not simply those of sclerotic authority, or bureaucracy, or power, but of our friends and neighbours, our brothers and sisters, our parents and children, the man behind the cash desk in the supermarket who used to be so friendly and, well, funny — all these and many more, who for a full two years at least, became the attack dogs from the Valley of the Squinting Windows where the Stasi live.”
But seriously, read the whole thing, it’s spot on.