Friday, May 15, 2009

Have we lost our sense of humor?

In a recent blog, Richard Silverstein (at tikkun-olam, May 13, 2009) points out that people on the extreme left and the extreme right have lost their sense of humor. They cannot take a joke, or rather they read nefarious intentions into expressions of artistic wit. The occasion for these musings was the publication of a map in which Palestine appears as an archipelago surrounded by water. The map L’archipel de Palestine orientale (‘The Archipelago of Eastern Palestine’) was made by French cartographer Julien Busac. If first appeared at with comments by the editors and the artist. (For further discussion see Robert Mackey's post on The Ledge.)

Perhaps it is not just people on the extremes who have lost their sense of humor, and perhaps it is not "the situation" that has caused us to lose our sense of humor. Hermann Cohen famously points out (as recently reiterated in a book by Myriam Bienenstock) that the God of monotheism leaves no room for irony. That may be the real problem.

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