Thursday, December 14, 2006

No Longer Able to Laugh

I've extracted this from Jenny Diski's blog, Biology of the Worst Kind:

I've just read Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country. I've never read any of Vonnegut's books without a)smiling and b)weeping quietly to myself. This time is no different. I suspect I recognise a fellow depressive who knows exactly what there is to be depressed about. Laughter is how depressives survive, when they do survive (though the Prozac helps). But Mr V suggests that eventually the laughing stops. He's in his mid-eighties now and working on a novel about a comedian living at the end of the world, which he can't finish. The problem is:

'Finally, you get just too tired, and the news is too awful, and humor doesn't work anymore. Somebody like Mark Twain thought life was quite awful but held the awfulness at bay with jokes and so forth, but finally he couldn't do it anymore...It may be that I am no longer able to joke - that it is no longer a satisfactory defense mechanism.'

I really hope he finishes his novel. But I know what he means. I can feel the sadness seeping up through the Prozac like slime through floorboards. Still, Pinochet's dead. Hey ho.

It sometimes seems to me that the most satirical writers are often the most serious. Laughter is a method of lubricating the glass-shards of truth as it goes down. Personally, I've found laughter makes the bad part of life just that little bit easier to bear. Sometimes the people around me think I'm sort of maniac-depressive. What can I say? "If I don't laugh, I'll probably cry."

Sometimes it can get to you though, the way the world's destroying itself. The world overwhelms you and you think your heart's going to cave in. Perhaps you feel it's not worth fighting anymore. Just give in. Or maybe, just numb it out. Feeling nothing can seem like a better alternative than the sadness, the pain.

But then, that's when you've really lost the fight.

I can't bear to do that yet.

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