Jan/Feb 2008 Miscellaneous

Borat: On the Soul of Comedy

by Amy George

Photo by Steve Wing

In the computer age, comedy and its evil twin, tragedy, present themselves to us at every turn. Tragedy, defined as the experience of harm, physical or mental, material or spiritual. The failure of the heart and mind to find balance with tragedy can lead to obsession with comedy. Like sex or drugs, comedy can keep people from feeling tragedy. Hence, it keeps them from feeling. It benumbs.

In America, comedy is virtually a cult, with comedy schools, a comedy channel, people CC-ing millions of jokes a day to each other, and comedy clubs in every city.

Back during the Fall from Eden, the inception of tragedy/comedy and linear time were concurrent. Their inception was a cosmic event taking place over many thousands of years. Subsequently, ancient peoples collectively managed tragedy through myth and ritual. Then, through drama: the groundbreaking Greeks stepped away from myth and ritual in their management of tragedy. In the present era, the responsibility for tragedy-management trickles down like Chinese water torture, away from the collective and to the individual.



For the reader unfamiliar with the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the main character, Borat, is from a small village in Kazakhstan where anti-Semitism, chauvinism, and being grossly oversexed are endemic. Western civilization has struggled with these monsters for millennia. Evidently, they are still so close to home that they merit satire.

In this day, relatively traditional cultures such as Borat's perpetuate tragedy by resisting individuation. They resist individuation by not recognizing the right to freedom of thought. In fact, they are generally unaware of the degree to which people have the right to, and even the capacity for, individuated consciousness.

Presumably, in cultures such as Borat's, he would be an outcast were he not anti-Semitic, chauvinistic, and grossly oversexed.



So long as there is tragedy, the clown is existentially married to the collective. The actor who plays Borat, Sacha Cohen, is an archetypal clown. The archetypal clown lives in all comics. It flows through collective humanity like water to tragedy, the most fertile ground for comedy. In this sense, people who are clowns are unwitting pawns of the clown-archetype.

The clown archetype puts tragedy into either divine or chthonic ("chthonic" meaning earthly and infernal) perspective. In divine comedy, the clown reveals foolishness, which can edify wisdom. In contrast, Satan—for lack of a more inclusive name—uses the clown for self-aggrandizement via the belittling of others. Satan practices nihilistic satire and is unyieldingly sarcastic. His is chthonic comedy.


Cosmic Clowns

There are two supreme perspectives which the evolution of consciousness blends together: God's and the collective's. When God's perspective and the collective's are indistinguishable, there is Paradise. Comedy is indispensable on the journey to Paradise, a journey that begins in innocence and proceeds to experience. Once a person is duly aware of his fall from innocence, he is in position to attain a higher, saintly state of innocence.

Each stage of the journey from innocence to experience, and then through purgation to higher innocence, is denoted by a different type of clown: The fool is in innocence. The clown is in experience. The stooge is in purgatory. Finally, in higher innocence, where the soul is reunited with the flesh, the stooge becomes the joker.

These four archetypes of the divine clown—the fool, clown, stooge and joker—form a bridge from the primordial soup to Paradise. As such, they are "cosmic clowns."

Paralleling the cosmic clown's journey (from innocence to experience, through purgation to higher innocence) and sequentially corresponding to each cosmic clown archetype (fool, clown, stooge and joker) are ignorance, tragedy, purgation, and salvation.


The Joker

For the joker, comedy is more music than an existential reflex to tragedy. The joker interweaves comedy and tragedy as well as all opposites into music, thereby transforming harm into harmony. History is the process of the interweaving of the opposites into clothing for God to wear.

The western cultural revolution of the 1960s seeded wide-ranging collective change. The change was facilitated by a counterculture of jokers—divine jokers. In participating in the creation of the 60's psychedelic parallel universe, the Beatles were avatars of the joker. In "I Am the Walrus" they mention the joker in the same verse that they refer to comedy and tragedy:

Don't you think the joker laughs at you?
...I'm crying.

The joker awaits the day when comedy and tragedy become history. It will not be a day of death, but one of global change led by the spirit of music drawing the forces of comedy and tragedy into union within the collective.


High Comedy

A unique aspect of the Borat film is that the "actors" signed release forms to be in the film under the pretense that the actor who played Borat really was a Kazak named Borat, not an actor playing Borat. Some of the people in the film have sued Borat for misleading them, one claiming to have lost his job because of the film.

This type of comedy, where the unsuspecting are tricked into playing the fool, is a staple segment of "fake news" programs such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The premise in such segments is that an interviewer, pretending to be a real-news reporter, conducts an interview capriciously, often as a tongue-in-cheek assault on the interviewee's motives and character.

This type of comedy is of the highest order when it reveals its victims' ignorance—ignorance being the ultimate source of all tragedy. Such comedy comes straight out of the joker's mouth, which is to say, from God.

Victims of such comedy may claim to have a right not to be misled into exposing their foolishness, and may be in position to sue Sacha Cohen. Still, God recognizes no one's right not to play the fool. In fact, God wills that people play the fool until wisdom makes them impossible to mislead.

As the joker, God can be unthinkably cruel for the sake of perpetuating the paradisiacal agenda, forcing people into situations where they must either own up or be destroyed. Judas is the archetype of such people.

Judas comes to radically contrasting ends in the Book of Matthew and the Book of Acts. In Acts, where Judas is remorseless, God smites him to bits on the field Judas bought with the money made through his deceit. In Matthew, Judas hangs himself over what he's done. The point of the differing stories is that the Judas-archetype in everyone is to either own up to their foolishness, or be destroyed.

Certainly, owning up doesn't have to entail literal suicide. It means surrendering to self-honesty, which is a suicide in that it requires sacrificing one's ego for the sake of higher truth.

Everyone who is not a saint, is Judas to one degree or another. Let it not be overlooked that Judas was Jesus' favorite Apostle.

In conclusion, comedy evolves symbiotically to human consciousness. Tragedy cannot avoid exposure to the light of comedy. People want to see Borat because its comedy neutralizes tragedy—tragedy perpetuated by mindsets unbefitting global citizenry.

When a day that is beyond tragedy comes, that day will also be beyond comedy. It will be a day of pleasure, bliss, and love. It will be a day of days. No joke.


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