August 2nd, 2006

Insert Joke Here

“…Howl fell over the chair and caught his foot in the stool so that it shot across the room. After that, he tried to go upstairs through the broom cupboard, and then the yard. This seemed to puzzle him a little. But finally he discovered the stairs, all except the bottom one, and fell up them on his face.” 

Admittedly, I am a Diana Wynne Jones fan. I was probably predisposed to love this relatively unimportant blip in Howl’s Moving Castle. But even if this had been my first outing in DWJ Land, I think I would have laughed out loud at the glorious silliness and absolute reality of it, the total seriousness with which the inebriated person tries to navigate everyday life and the utter impossibility of doing same.

In the course of editing stories for Fibromyalgia AWARE (a very excellent glossy consumer magazine for patients with this chronic pain disorder), it has come to my attention that there is very little humor can’t improve. (Just think how much better that preceding sentence would have been if anything even remotely funny had not been so conspicuously absent from it!) A couple of the freelancers I regularly turn to have the gift of weaving humor into the heavy scientific info they’re foisting upon our readers. It’s the sugar that makes the medicine easier to swallow, as Jessica Franke demonstrates in “Fibromyalgia & Migraines: Enough Already!” (a particularly fine contribution to vol. 11, now available for purchase: 

 “The word ‘migraine’ is often used as a synonym for ‘really bad headache,’ but that’s like comparing apples with … um … mutant, planet-sized fruits from hell.”

Pause for laughter—and then Franke launches into the symptoms of migraines (serious stuff indeed, including blind spots, speech problems, and nausea), recent studies, migraine triggers, and so on.

 Humor is a good thing—no news there, though it seems we need to re-realize that fact over and over again. I realized it (again) earlier this week while perusing Jim Sleeper’s 1st Orange County Almanac of Historical Oddities. He just comes straight out with it in the preface to this 1971 volume:

 “If my treatment seems a bit jocular, the facts are no less true. One of the curses of our culture is that one is not taken seriously unless one writes seriously. The chief tragedy of our times is not that our young people have gone to pot, but that they have forgotten how to laugh. Say what you will about old fogies (anyone over 30 is considered ancient these days [WRITER’S NOTE: Sigh…]), they are ten times better-natured than our ‘boppers,’ whose lack of humor is what makes them really teeny.”

 History, science, fantasy—I guess everything, at any time, can be improved with a liberal dose of humor. Seriously. 

(Yes, that's really the end of this entry. You didn't expect me to come up with anything funny, did you?)