Re: mid-evil funnies

Sun, 13 Nov 1994 08:46:59 -0500

Fiona Moore writes:
> As an undergraduate myself, I didn't feel particularly condescended-to (is
> this a new word?) by the "levity" thread--in fact, I contributed one of my
> own exam errors to it (blush). I thought the purpose of the thread was not
> so much to portray all undergraduates as stupid as to gain a few laughs.
> After all, _Punch_ magazine ran a column reprinting humourous typographic
> errors from newspapers without once incurring an angry letter to the
> effect that they were putting down copy editors....
> I think everybody here is aware that not everybody who goes into an
> anthropology course is as eager and well-informed about anthropology as we
> are (slight sarcasm). I also expect that everybody here has some stupid
> exam response hiding in their closet behind the skeleton.
> Long live the "levity" thread! We can't be serious all the time!
But here, I think, is the central point
to be learned in this whole exchange. While _Punch_ may get away with it, and
while the _Journal of Irreproducible Results_ and (to a greater extent) its
`daughter species' journal have raised scientific parody to the level of an
art form, a very many anthropologists IMHO try to be serious *all the time*, or
at least to *appear* to be saying/doing something serious. Perhaps it comes
with the turf --after all there are precious few things immune to being looked
at through the anthropological lens. But give a peek at the masthead of JIR
over the years and see how many anthropologists have appeared there. Despite
the size and scope of our discipline, there are only a couple who have appeared
sporadically, suggesting to me a discipline remarkably bereft and suspicious
of levity in its ranks.

Ken Jacobs
U de Montreal