McGraw’s studies have led him to endorse something called the benign-violation theory, which holds that “humor only occurs when something seems wrong, unsettling, or threatening (i.e., a violation), but simultaneously seems okay, acceptable, or safe (i.e., benign.)” The form this takes in most jokes and comic situations is to begin with the threat of a violation of some sort and save the uneasiness this causes by its turning benign at its end.
Posts Tagged: fear
…beyond any fear is a greater circumambient fear, a terror, that one will be insufficiently able to hold that fear. That if the stimulus is present and ongoing, unchecked, one might fall apart, come to pieces, in her faculties disintegrate.
Writer Bryan Blanchfield was attacked by his family dog at age nine, so viciously that a surgeon had to be flown in to repair his mutilated face....more
In a borrowed bed, in a foreign room, I woke up to a cry, raw and guttural like a baby’s first breath. My bedside lamp was still on, and the mild darkness of morning stretched outside my window. I slept on a book for a pillow, and yesterday’s jeans rutted into my waist....more
We searched for a lake monster on the shores of Lake Superior. This was sometime last July. My wife Meredith, son Henry, and I had headed north from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in the hopes that the vacation town of Duluth, Minnesota might momentarily insulate us from the horrors of the world....more