Hidden Humor

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Where else, but in Faulkner. Light in August is an interesting study in neurosis and psychosis and how one feeds the other until disaster. It is also a repudiation of Calvinist fatalism, even though there seems to be that about it which suggests inevitability. But regardless of the dire and drear events, we have in the midst of them this:

from Light in August
William Faulkner

Presently the fire truck came up gallantly, with noise, with whistles and bells. It was new, painted red, with gilt trim and a handpower siren and a bell gold in color and in tone serene, arrogant, and proud. About it hatless men and youths clung with the astonishing disregard of physical laws that flies possess. It had mechanical ladders that sprang to prodigious heights at the touch of a hand, like opera hats; only there was now nothing for them to spring to. It had neat and virgin coils of hose evocative of telephone trust advertistements in the popular magazines; but there was nothing to hook them to and nothing to flow through them. So the hatless men, who had desert edcounters and desks swung down, even including the one who gound the siren. They came too and were shown several places where the sheet had lain, and some of them with pistols already in their pockets began to canvass about for someone to crucify.

But there wasn't anybody. She had lived such a quiet life, attended so to her own affairs, that she bequeathed to the town in which she had been born and lived and died a foreigner, an outlander, a kind of heritage of astonishment and outrage, for which, even though she had supplied them at last with an emotional barecue, a Roman holiday almost, the would never forgive her and let her be dead in peace and quiet.

In and among the solemn events, these flies in their brand new and utterly useless fire engine provide the kind of comic relief that Shakespeare (and probably a good many playwright of lesser compass before him) employed so effectively with the drunken porter in Macbeth.

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the drunken porter in Macbeth

Ha! I was McDuff in our high school production, and that scene was a lot of fun. The guy who played the porter did local standup comedy clubs (and later went on to be a dj at the local radio station), and he would almost always throw me something just a bit different each night.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 3, 2008 8:04 AM.

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