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The Comedian As Philosopher

 
 
Reply Sun 4 May, 2014 04:46 pm
I was in a comic book store recently and found a certain volume that deigned to give an overview of western philosophic thought via the comic book medium.

The final pages were dedicated to an exploration of the authors' personal choice of philosopher, where I was dismayed to discover that George Carlin was the choice of the male author of the book.

Is anyone else disquieted by this tendency that seems to be horribly widespread. The tendency to venerate comedians with a bent towards social commentary as philosophers?

One of Carlin's pearls, for example, was to outline his disapproval of those afflicted with the eating disorder known as Anorexia Nervosa in the following manner: "Rich bitch don't want to eat? **** her."

Is this the kind of deep thought we should be celebrating?

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Type: Question • Score: 4 • Views: 1,527 • Replies: 13

 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sun 4 May, 2014 06:26 pm
@medium-density,
I'd have to hear the context.

Did your quote come out of him musing on the problem of hunger? In that context in might not have been ha-ha funny but it might have really driven his larger point home.
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Reply Sun 4 May, 2014 06:31 pm
I don't think Carlin's every utterance was intended as wisdom. He had a long career and some of his jokes were just that: jokes.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Sun 4 May, 2014 08:11 pm
@medium-density,
Don't accept one book's opinion about comedians and philosophers to heart. It's only one opinion; you can make up your own mind about that author's opinions.

One quote does not a philosopher make.

medium-density
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 May, 2014 01:38 pm
@boomerang,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH5DCIf1bRI

Full context in the clip above.

It's even worse than I remember it. Humour that is straightforwardly obnoxious has its uses, but I can see nothing redeeming in this "bit".
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 May, 2014 02:00 pm
Whats worse than setting one's moral compass by a line in a five minute rant by a comedian? Asking A2K members if its alright to do that.

Sure. Go for it. Should go far to making you more popular and after all, isn't that what its all really, really about anyway?
0 Replies
 
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 May, 2014 02:27 pm
@cicerone imposter,
The trend extends beyond one book and one comedian. Bill Hicks is another top draw example, and there are countless pitiful imitators besides.

The point with these performers is that people seem to be reacting to the righteousness or rectitude of their acts, rather than any comedic aspects. The personality is the means and ends, jokes might make the odd appearance, but always through the filter of personality.

And everything they say is asserted; there can hardly be a more assertive medium than standup comedy. So we see these miniature personality cults arise, these lone voices, these cowboys. They're all too easily lionised.

My contention is this: comedians should either make us laugh, or, if they want to get into the proclaiming game, think harder.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 May, 2014 02:32 pm
@medium-density,
I agree it isn't funny.

In 1992, before anorexia and bulimia really entered our collective conscious it was probably a lot funnier. The year it was said is also part of the context.

Carlin's humor is really social commentary. Bulimia probably does seem disheartening to someone who is not purposefully starving but starving because no food is available to them.

I don't think what he said is nearly as harmful as what you'll find in the pages of any fashion magazine.
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kiuku
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2014 07:31 pm
@medium-density,
well, uh, dude, Aristophanes. Aristophanes is the first philosopher, suggested. Aristophanes is a comedian, founded comedy, and philosophy. Aristophanes is a hated man, Aristophanes had a cult as well, a persecuted cult. No I don't think it is insane to consider a comedian a pointed philosopher. good philosophy is comedy, I think. I think so, but if you don't know who Aristophanes is then you can't think about philosophy much less under it. Aristophanes is the beginning and the end of any philosopher, any greek philosopher that is.
Romeo Fabulini
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2014 07:55 pm
Carlin was just another "professional atheist", he realised there were plenty of people willing to buy his books and vids.
He'd have made just as much dough if he'd become a smarmy TV evangelist or started a wacko religious cult..Smile
0 Replies
 
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2014 10:10 pm
@kiuku,
kiuku wrote:

well, uh, dude, Aristophanes. Aristophanes is the first philosopher, suggested. Aristophanes is a comedian, founded comedy, and philosophy. Aristophanes is a hated man, Aristophanes had a cult as well, a persecuted cult. No I don't think it is insane to consider a comedian a pointed philosopher. good philosophy is comedy, I think. I think so, but if you don't know who Aristophanes is then you can't think about philosophy much less under it. Aristophanes is the beginning and the end of any philosopher, any greek philosopher that is.


Aristophanes wasn't the first philosopher, he was a dramatist (but not the first dramatist, nor the founder of comedy).

Aristophanes neither founded, nor was he the figurehead of, a cult. Maybe you're thinking of Pythagoras? Mind you, Pythagoras had a cult, but he was also not the first philosopher or the founder of comedy.

i agree with you that there is a relationship between philosophy and comedy, and they can each benefit by including bits of one into the other. But they are not intrinsically the same thing.

As far as Carlin goes, i agree with edgarblythe. i think George Carlin was a smart, often insightful man. He could be wise, but his job required him to be funny. He wasn't always entirely successful at being either, but he succeeded more often than he failed. i'm not disturbed by the idea of the "comedian as philosopher" trope, but i also don't think that it is definitive.
kiuku
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2014 09:50 am
@Razzleg,
no you're absolutely wrong. Aristophanes is the founder of philosophy. I don't know what school you went to, but you're wrong. And as to the rest, huh? I'm just going to say you're wrong. Comedy is philosophy (it's actually among the first philosophy.) Yes comedy is wisdom. There's no "relationship", you're obviously a modern thinker, and I doubt you went to a real school.

Why are you correcting me when you see I translate Latin and Greek? That's my concern.

Aristophanes is the founder of philosophy: take it or leave it.

Then it was cynics, cynics are philosophy; so they are comedians, cynic comedy, cynicism. I do not have modern tendencies of thought, and I translate Latin and Greek, therefore I am a more trustworthy source.

I translate Latin and Greek but there/here I am wrong? I guess. laugh.

Still, I won't be corrected by a modern thinker, by wishy washy.

Does no one notice I translate Latin and Greek?
kiuku
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2014 10:17 am
@kiuku,
post a Greek tomb, and let's see who can translate it. I'm sorry but I'm really pretty sure this is common knowledge. Again I'm surprised people do not know it-surprised people do not go to school. Cynic philosophy -is- comedy. All these philosophers were comedians too! Diogenes was a cynic comedian. They were comedians. Plutarch...Aristophanes started comedy meanwhile. Philosophy: since when is it all serious? Plautus was a philosopher who was a philosopher of the mind, and he was a comedian there right.

to be continued.
kiuku
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2014 04:47 pm
@kiuku,
See I can read this, other people cannot:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Gladiatrix_relief.jpg

Athena-Yahweh (yikes! They had them back then.) cults of
amazing thrasher of skulls.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42873000/jpg/_42873901_gravestone_203300.jpg

Impaled gladiator, Province of Athens, cult of Aristophanes, dies bleeding (annihilated, dies thrashing)

I win.

I don't know. Whatever else do you do when you read Greek Latin....and Egyptian.
0 Replies
 
 

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