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Poetic Thinking 2016 | February 19, 2020

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De Düva

De Düva
Vivian Lam

For fans (or non-fans?) of Ingmar Berman, I highly recommend this 1968 parody short on his works (if chesska is the game of life, then why not badmintonska? Baseballska?).[and here’s a rotoscope parody of the parody].

Where does parody fit in “poetic thinking”? I am reminded of the quote we discussed from Bakhtin:

“It is precisely laughter that destroys the epic, and in general destroys any hierarchical…distance. As a distanced image a subject cannot be comical; to be made comical, it must be brought close. Everything that makes us laugh is close at hand, all comical creativity works in a zone of maximal proximity. Laughter has the remarkable power of making an object come up close, of drawing it into a zone of crude contact where one can finger it familiarly on all sides, turn it upside down, inside out, peer at it from above and below…examine it freely and experiment with it.”

In pointing out the absurd or undermining the serious, rendering it into the carnivalesque mode, does it orient by preventing us from settling into fixed meanings and dismantling systems, or disorient by leaving nothing firm for us to hold onto? Are we liberated when we walk without bannisters, or is the pathology of transcendental homelessness made terminal?


  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about your question, Vivian–”Where does parody fit in ‘poetic thinking’?” Because when I think about parody, I often think of the way it *can* shut down the hunt for meaning or new types of thought. Laughing at a work of art, ridiculing it, can be a way to not have to seriously consider the work. And shutting a work down like that feels similar to calling a work “problematic,” as an excuse for not having to really wrestle with it. I don’t think this is always the case–parody can really draw attention to interesting aspects of the original work and make us consider it in a new light. I haven’t given comedy enough thought to consider why it sometimes seems to expand upon a work, and other times seems to oversimplify it. It seems like it might have something to do with the intention of the parody-maker–do they want to just ridicule it, or do something else? But then again, often “the author means more than (s)he intends.” I feel my thoughts sliding into the murky swamp of relativism again…

  2. Andrew McLeod

    Interesting post, Vivian; I agree that breaking free of the gravitas with which we normally approach certain topics can be beneficial. However, Audrey expresses a valid concern—that treating something only at the level of parody allows us to avoid confronting the work in an authentic way. This suggests, to me, that the subjects towards which we should strive to employ methods of parody are those that we have already struggled with in an earnest way, and which have thereby (to a greater or lesser extent) become formative for us in some way. Parody then becomes an act of self-critique to the extent that it enables us to re-evaluate that part of ourselves that endorses the object of parody. To put this more tritely, it’s important to be able to step back and laugh at ourselves (which can be especially hard in academia…).

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