Lipton’s Journal/February 22, 1955/691
Laughter. We laugh when we recognize a great thought and immediately conceal it. The longer we laugh the more the thought persists, and helpless laughter is the anxiety that the thought will never go away. Which is why we feel so good after laughing for minutes at a time. We have succeeded in blurring the magnitude of the thought, but the beauty and danger of the insight remain as an echo within us, we have glimpsed a fabulous cavern of being, and it leaves us content that that exists within us.
People who never laugh are occasionally totally inert, but much more often are people with such a cruelthat they dare not laugh—their large but whipped would destroy them if it could appear. A man who does not laugh is either a saint who lives in thought rather than society, or else is a man close to suicide, murder, or death.
But there is the critical passage in laughter from Enter-Take over the fence to Make-Give. And it is hurdling this fence which creates the dialectical antithesis. Thus enter and take swell the thought, but the moment we start to laugh, that is to make and give a sound, we have given antithesis to thesis, we have converted thought into a greatly diminished idea. It is the gap between thought and idea which is enormous in laughter that creates the laughter, the muscular ripple, the release of muscular tension. Which occasions the notion that thought exists in our muscular tension, and idea is the release, the expansion of muscular contraction.
This seems to be true for me. When I cannot sleep it is because I am churning with thought. As I convert it to idea, as I verbalize silently, the tension diminishes provided each new idea is not good enough to encourage more thought, more muscular tension. I ideate so profusely on Lipton’s because my natural state is one of great muscular tension. Lipton’s in releasing muscular tension demands speech. My yap yap yap is the health of my body.—I ought to learn to dance. But then I wouldn’t ideate as much.
Serious people are serious when they give ideas—the relation between thought which is comparatively small and idea which is comparatively large (almost equal to the thought) make them sober and grave. What they dredge up from themselves has the capacity to be realized as a social artifact. But when I diea (ideate means die?). When I ideate I alternate between intense seriousness and sudden high pitched laughter. The reason is that my thoughts are forever sweeling (swilling?) into something enormous, and so my laugh goes up—it’s a wail of hatred that I’ll never be able to ideate such a beautiful thought.
Thus, in laughter, the laughter is the—expressed making-giving defense against the er-impelled enter-take of an advancing thought.
That is why dirty jokes are invariably funnier than “clean” ones. The sexual truths are the universal truths. Off Lipton’s I roar with laughter at Legman’s Limericks. On Lipton’s I read them seriously, gravely, sadly, wisely, and joyously.