Thursday, April 7, 2016

Humor, madness and the good life

Somebody mentioned Inspector Clouseau and in no time, we were exchanging lines from some of the Pink Panther movies starring Peter Sellers.  Well, I guess we actually got started with The World of Henry Orient, in which Sellers plays a concert pianist pursued by two infatuated teen girls.  That is the movie in which a character asked "Want some black coffee?"  The instant I heard the question, I started liking my coffee black and have ever since.  That was about 30 years ago.

More to the point of humor, a heavy-set older woman approached a table of clerks and was asked "Sex?"  She replied,"Why should I tell you?

Like many other dandies and heartthrobs, Jacques Clouseau sometimes brought beautiful women to his house for sexual purposes.  His manservant, the loyal and resilient Cato, had been instructed to attack the inspector in imaginative and unexpected ways in order to keep the policeman ever on the alert.  You know, as a drill in preparation for facing the many bad guys who dreamed of eliminating an obstacle to their criminal activities.  At times, Cato interfered with bedroom activities inappropriately.  So, there are times with Clouseau is heard shouting,"Not now, Cato!  Not now!"

Pat has evidently read a biography of Peter Sellers and said he had not had a happy life.  That comment brought to mind things I had read about the life of Robin Williams.  Williams sometimes sent me into gales of laughter but at other times seemed to leave the realm of humor and move over to ranting or babbling or incomprehensible talk.

I have heard of inquiries into a connection between madness and genius.  But I guess there may be a connection between seeing the world in original ways, using language in original ways and losing one's grip on reality.   One aspect of the good life well-lived seems to be seeing clearly, as the Zen thinkers sometimes say, with a beginner's mind.  Children can be fascinated with what adults take for granted, see as the same old thing.  When you say,"Please pass the salt" and I say,"Why?", you might laugh or smile but you may also question my understanding of typical and civil human behavior.

Thinking about what words mean, altering one's response to comments and actions may make for good improv and sprightly living but doing so might be tiresome or offensive.

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