The Atomic Playboy and the Radiation Romeo

The button below will open a new browser window displaying the Flash interface for Atomic and Romeo (Version 16 with Preloader). You will find a page of introductory text, some instructions and then the interface where you can suggest a topic for conversation.

This version 16 uses the landscape layout, updates the heckler and end-of-conversation functions with an audio sign-off. All the features from previous versions remain - scroll bar control,custId variable allows me to better log and track conversations.

The chat-bots are hosted on the Pandorabots server under the Shared Service subscription. Please note, the terms of the Updated Policy Guidelines for Free Community Server state that the “Use of automated scripts to make your pandorabot talk to itself or another bot or script” is proscribed (Pandorabots 2011). This project is being developed with the agreement of the Pandorabots Inc management and we would like to acknowledge their support. ( Pandorabots )

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bergson - agency and structure

In his essay of 1911 Bergson proposes a ‘new law’ of humour, “We laugh every time a person gives us the impression of being a thing” (2005, p.28). In this project his ‘law’ will be tested by inversion; will we laugh every time a thing gives us the impression of being a person? Further, will the incongruity of our impression oscillating between the human and the non-human call forth a shared anxiety that we have about media technology?

Bergson's concept of the mechanical encrusted ('plastered' may be a better translation of the original French) on the human is analogous to the relationship between agency and structure. The individual's agency is, for want of a better term, their free will - their ability to act in the world by making choices that have real consequences. The mechanical is then all of the structures of the world. These structures are typically described by rules and laws: the laws of physics, the rules of language, the rules of etiquette, and even the rule of law. Cartoon 'violence' toys with laws of physics - the coyote lives and dies as a result of these laws. The pun, the malaprop and the double entendre are manipulations of the laws of language. Borat shatters the rules of etiquette. The Keystone Cops, Top Cat's Officer Dibble, Rumpole of the Bailey, and so many others expose the farcical nature of the rule of law.

Giddens concept of 'structuration' brings agency and structure together - each dependent of the other. A kind of co-dependent marriage. There is a deep level of incongruity between agency and structure. Not all incongruity leads to comedy but is it a necessary if not satisfactory condition.

Bergson was talking about these subterranean incongruities.

Henri Bergson, Laughter: An essay on the meaning of the comic.

1 comment:

Joe Velikovsky said...

Yes - I like this theory of Bergson's.

Some of the funniest gags I've heard (or read) go along the lines of:

Man: Doctor doctor! Help me, I think I'm a set of curtains!
Doctor: Oh come on, come on - Pull yourself together, man!


Man: Doctor Doctor help me! I'm a teepee, I'm a wigwam! I'm a teepee, I'm a wigwam!
Doctor: You're too tense!

Man: Doctor help! I'm a mushroom, I'm a toadstool!
Doc: Haha! You're a fun guy.