Thursday, March 12, 2009

Purim Plato

I saw Robert Mankoff speak yesterday at the Institute for the Humanities Brown Bag Lunch. He was funny but, like all other White People in the croud, I love New Yorker cartoons, so it was a lot of preaching humor to the laugh machine choir.

During his monologue he claimed that Plato and Aristotle warn against the vices of humor. This was our interaction during the Q&A session:

Me: But when you read Plato it is obvious that he is not always serious. For instance in the Republic Socrates chides poets for speaking in a voice other than their own, but then you realize that Plato is speaking through the voice of Socrates.
Mankoff: That's what I get at the University of Michigan*.
Me: I think that is funny.
Mankoff: And I think you are full of shit.

For the moment I don't want to contest his notion of humor (which I think leaves out such things as puns), but want to understand what he means by "full of shit." It reminded me of when Jose and I were walking down the Champs-Élysées and I was ranting about some ridiculous idea when he accused me of the same thing. I remarked in turn: I am not quite sure what you mean by "full of shit." If you mean to say, "My Zev, you are sounding very Zev-like today" then I may take your meaning.

Are "we" full of shit? Is that, maybe, what we are supposed to be? Let the pedantic comments roll.

* I wanted to correct him and say Chicago, but I (fortunately) thought better of it.

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