Charles Hill

Hi Sheelah,

The experiential structure of humour and horror are the same. Let me try to explain it with a joke.

A 90 year old man visits his doctor with a complaint. “Doc, I have a bowel movement at exactly 7:00 a.m. every morning.” The doctor responds “What?! But that’s great. I have patients much younger than you that would love to have such regular bowel movements.”

To which the man responds, “But Doc, I don’t wake up until 8.”

Putting my analysis hat on, we can see that the joke is funny because as we listen to the first part of the joke we are envisioning a certain picture that suddenly gets taken away at the end of the joke. It is the sudden change of our internal pictures which sets off our nervous systems to which laughter is a healing response. This is the structure of all humour. It is also the structure of all horror.

I suspect that it is also the structure of God’s work on the cross as espoused by Rene Girard. We think we are absolutely justified in our condemnation of the “bad guy”. Surprise! The “bad guy” is actually God. And as God is innocent, the bad guy must be me. The experience of the gap between the way I thought things are and how they really are, becomes my opportunity to look back at my self and begin the process of change.

Anyway, sorry for the length. These are the things I am working on and that is why I am here as I believe there are strong corollaries with what Girard and James Alison are talking about.