Machine-Age Comedy by Michael North

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By Michael North

During this most up-to-date addition to Oxford's Modernist Literature & tradition sequence, popular modernist student Michael North poses primary questions about the connection among modernity and comedian shape in movie, animation, the visible arts, and literature. Machine-Age Comedy vividly constructs a cultural heritage that spans the total 20th century, displaying how alterations wrought through industrialization have without end altered the comedian mode. With prepared analyses, North examines the paintings of a variety of artists--including Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, and David Foster Wallace--to exhibit the artistic and unconventional methods the routinization of business society has been explored in a wide array of cultural types. all through, North argues that glossy writers and artists came upon whatever inherently comedian in new reports of repetition linked to, enforced by means of, and made inevitable via the desktop age. eventually, this wealthy, tightly concentrated learn bargains a brand new lens for realizing the devlopment of comedic buildings during times of big social, political, and cultural switch to bare how the unique promise of recent lifestyles might be extracted from its functional sadness.

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The avant-garde is often treated as a joke because it seems to be manufacturing empty innovations, which is pretty much exactly what the avant-garde seems to have been mocking in society itself. 61 But finding the “jou” within the newspaper masthead also suggests that this system exposes itself, generating its own humorous critique, which no longer has to be mounted from outside. The avant-garde and the bourgeoisie are really telling the same joke, which is all about the way that mechanical regularity and incessant innovation have collapsed into one another, and shock is no longer distinguishable from routine.

I N T R O D U C T IO N 23 One of the products that industrial society manufactures, he suggests, is comedy, which it makes out of the imbalanced mixture of the unique and the reproduced, the new and the repetitive, the human and the mechanical. Comedy may be an especially significant form in the twentieth century because it shows the realities of modern life at work in popular culture, art, literature, and philosophy more or less simultaneously. The very possibility of a relationship between the apparently ideal in the world of art and philosophy and the lowly products of popular culture may itself seem comically incongruous, and yet this was a joke told over and over in the twentieth century, where Benjamin and Eisenstein worship Disney, where Rube Goldberg and Duchamp converge on the same routines.

Since he cannot take his part in the routines of such machines without intuiting something of the original idea that animates them, Keaton always reenacts the original inspiration of the inventor and in so doing restores some of the original glamour and interest of machines, which certainly must have come from the evidence they gave of human ingenuity. Another way of putting this would be to say that Keaton anthropomorphizes machines, but this use of the term would suggest that machines ordinarily have in them nothing of the human.

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