A man may laugh for pleasure or joy. Pleasure or joy are not comic, and the appropriate response is song, i.e., the expression of gratitude and praise. If a man lacks the gift of song, then he may laugh as a substitute. The substitute is acceptable because there is no suffering involved, except the comic contradiction of being unable to sing in a situation demanding song and in which laughter is actually ridiculous.
For what is the comic? The comic is a contradiction that does not involve suffering, either directly in the subject or indirectly by sympathetic identification with those involved in the contradiction. [...] A man who makes a religion out of the comic is unable to face suffering. He is bound to deny it or to look the other way.
The first paragraph makes a nice pendant to "Notes on the Comic" (cf. "Among those I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.") and one is also reminded of Auden's aphorism about opera:
"No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible."Vpdate Re laughter cf. Spenser's faun, who "saw that pleased much his eye, / And made his hart to tickle in his brest" (i.e., Diana bathing). Like much else in this genre, via Calista.