Issue #25 August 2019

Bergson, Daydreamers, and Sticklers: Seeking Individuation in Laughter

Scene from Arlecchino servitore di due padroni, Teatro Argentina, 2018

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The Stickler

In Bergson’s description of the “person who attends to the petty occupations of his everyday life with mathematical precision” we can pretty easily recognise the comical type of the stickler. He has created some automatisms — habits, rules, obsessions — that render him unable to react to changed situations. In comedy, just as in Bergson’s example, the stickler is often abused by another comical type, the trickster, or he creates situations that are themselves comical. But the characters in comedy are hyperboles of what the author has observed in his surroundings, which means that we encounter the stickler not only in theatre and film, but also in real life. The stickler, then, is the result of certain real dynamics that he (the character) then exhibits in an extreme form. But what is the nature of these dynamics? What ‘makes’ a stickler?

A flip by Groucho Marx, New York, 1950's. Photograph by Garry Winogrand

The Daydreamer

If we flesh out Bergson’s first example, the person stumbling and falling on the street, into a comical type, we can imagine him as a notorious daydreamer. The daydreamer loses track of his surrounding, because his mind is ‘somewhere else’ as he lets his thoughts wander around freely. In comedy, the daydreamer is often that distracted character who unknowingly gets himself into dangerous situations, but who will coincidentally save himself in the very last second (Chaplin elegantly skating at the edge of the abyss).

Timofei Gerber has an MA in philosophy from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and an MA in film studies from the University of Zurich. He is also a co-founder and co-editor of this magazine.

Abbreviations and Works Cited

L – Laughter

ME – Mind-Energy

MM – Matter and Memory

Bergson, Henri. Laughter. An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. Temple of Earth Publishing.


August 2019


Forced to be Free: Rethinking the Terms of Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract’

by Tyler Loveless

The Stars Were Not Made For Us: Veganism, ownership, and abolitionism

by Benedict O’Connell

Bergson, Daydreamers, and Sticklers: Seeking Individuation in Laughter

by Timofei Gerber

Foucault’s “Discursive Formations”