Somewhere at the heart of language is an initial dislocation that is stitched up (I use the term advisedly) by an apparently arbitrary suture that makes for laughter and disquiet, the laughter of relief that things are not doomed to be dislocated, the laughter of surprise that the dislocation is healed in such remarkable fashion, the laughter of triumph that healing has been achieved, and the laughter of irony that such healing is a clever, disquieting, but hardly permanent device.
I derive pleasure from both the traditional forms and the open forms of free verse, so I’m fascinated by “Formal Wear: Notes on Rhyme, Meter, Stanza & Pattern” by George Szirtes, even if I don’t always agree with it. That said, I like the excerpt above, given my interest in suture and my recent encounter with the following excerpt from Samuel Beckett’s Watt:
Of all the laughs that strictly speaking are not laughs, but modes of ululation, only three I think need detain us, I mean the bitter, the hollow and the mirthless. They correspond to successive . . . excoriations of the understanding, and the passage from the one to the other is the passage from the lesser to the greater, from the lower to the higher, from the outer to the inner, from the gross to the fine, from the matter to the form. The laugh that now is mirthless once was hollow, the laugh that once was hollow once was bitter. And the laugh that once was bitter? Eyewater, Mr. Watt, eyewater. But do not let us waste our time with that. . . . The bitter, the hollow and—Haw! Haw!— the mirthless. The bitter laugh laughs at that which is not good, it is the ethical laugh. The hollow laugh laughs at that which is not true, it is the intellectual laugh. Not good! Not true! Well well. But the mirthless laugh is the dianoetic laugh, down the snout—Haw!—so. It is the laugh of laughs, the risus purus, the laugh laughing at the laugh, the beholding, the saluting of the highest joke, in a word the laugh that laughs—silence please—at that which is unhappy.