[lit-ideas] Re: There's no such thing as a free cremation

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2006 22:40:03 -0800

Eric wrote:

Mike: If I tell a joke with the intention of making my listener laugh -- and she > does -- how is that less performative than "Congratulations"?

Judging from what Robert wrote, the "jokes" would all have to go something like, "Laugh, dammit!" Though perhaps dialect could also be used, as in, "Zees iss a choke und you vill now all laugh."

I don't think even that would do it. (I already wrote Mike about this but I see
that unlike last time, my note went only to him.) The short answer is that if
telling a joke were a performative it wouldn't matter whether anyone laughed or not anymore than it would make any difference whether someone wept upon hearing
(for real) 'I now pronounce you man and wife,' or applauded at a ship
christening. The deed is done as soon as the words are said. No need to wait
around for the effect. The utterance contains its own effect, like God. (I like
that conceit so much I'm shamelessly using it twice.)

Robert Paul
Department of Special Effects
Mutton College

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