Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Of Belly-Laughers and Anal-Retentives
by Lindsay Perigo

"So, Shithead …"

Thus began a SOLO e-mail I received this morning. For a brief flicker of a moment, I experienced a sinking feeling as I thought, "Oh, no— who’s pissed off with me now?" Then I read on: "When are you going to answer my Post 34 to your Post 32 on the above article? Quit playing with yourself and type."

Realising who it was, I roared with laughter & typed a reply that began, "Dear Limp-Dick." It ended, "Why aren’t more Objectivists like us?"

This was a fellow I’d met only recently —at TOC-Vancouver. We struck up an immediate & uproarious rapport. We competed to see who could hurl the most outrageous insult at the other. It was funny precisely because we didn’t mean it. (At least, I hope he didn’t mean it when he called me a "fat fuck," just as I assuredly did not mean it when I called him "a great heap of lark vomit.")

These sorts of bawdy & outright obscene insults can be exchanged only between soulmates who can belly-laugh. A genuine belly-laugh is the mark of a genuine human being & is just as important as a sharp mind. The belly-laugh is the barometer of one’s joie de vivre & openness; one should never trust the man who cannot belly-laugh, since it is very likely that the cause of his condition is that he is hiding something at best or is a solipsistic sociopath at worst.

One encounters the belly-laugher, in my experience, across philosophies. Though it be true that Christianity & socialism, for instance, are miserable world-views, it’s not uncommon to find Christians & socialists with great belly-laughs. Of all the philosophies currently in vogue, only the truly woeful Islam has no belly-laughers in its midst, for obvious reasons, though it can probably boast many closet belly-laughers who daren’t let go for fear of being executed.

The opposite type of person to the belly-laugher is he who in popular parlance has been identified as the "anal-retentive"—priggish, prudish, militantly self-repressed, irrationally judgmental, frigidly formal. The moniker "anal-retentive," alludes, I suspect, to something deeply uncomfortable—like a cactus—placed where, I equally suspect, the retentive secretly desires nothing more than a good piece of man-meat! Now, the incongruous thing is this: Objectivism, a philosophy for living on earth, a philosophy of "unclouded exaltation," a philosophy that says, "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer & die, but to enjoy yourself & live" … this philosophy, I say, attracts many more anal-retentives than it does belly-laughers! To name names would be uncharitable, & in any event this is one instance where the public citing of empirical evidence is unnecessary—we’ve all encountered these anal-retentives within Objectivism & so can repair to personal experience: experience which has left us scratching our heads in bewilderment that such a joyous philosophy could attract such joyless, nay, kill-joy, devotees.

SOLO, naturally, is an exception to the above incongruity. SOLO boasts some terrific belly-laughers. Among them, Joe Rowlands.

(Mr. Rowlands, actually, is legendary for his chuckle, but every so often it crescendoes into a belly-laugh of impressive proportions. I have had occasion to witness this phenomenon several times over the last two weeks, when he has been staying with me. One was when Mr. Rowlands described me as "tasty." For a moment I thought I’d converted him from heterosexuality; then I realised it was getting late in the day, & I had not yet fed him—Mr. Rowlands, a voracious carnivore, was simply getting hungry, & debating with himself whether to eat me or some poor innocent from the street below.)

There is Peter Cresswell, whom I call "Irishman," even though he’s not Irish, because, when he’s not being a contrary Irish cuss, he rumbles up a storm with his belly-laugh that is reminiscent of nothing so much as the atmosphere of your traditional Irish pub. There’s Chris Sciabarra. The only thing that impedes Dr. Diabolical’s belly-laugh is the fact that he must stop talking in order to emit it—a prodigious feat that Diabolical nonetheless manages with alacrity. There’s James Kilbourne. Now I haven’t met James in person, but I know he must have a great belly-laugh because his essays on Ronald Reagan & Mario Lanza displayed a sense of the sublime that is the inexorable accompaniment of a sense of the ridiculous. (Not that it’s just ridiculous things, of course, that trigger a belly-laugh.)

Outside SOLO, there’s a TOC supporter who undoubtedly is the world champion belly-laugher. If there were a belly-laugh competition at the Olympics right now, this fellow would win it easily. I know him only as "Gene." During the nightly convivialities at TOC-Vancouver, I saw his laugh shake walls, trigger avalanches & bring down low-flying planes. Don’t believe me? Ha! I have the evidence! I recorded it (or rather, Molly Hays did, at my behest), & we’ll be presenting it on SOLOHQ as soon as we can track Gene down & secure his permission. His belly-laugh is truly the Eighth Wonder of the World.

So, why aren’t more Objectvists like this?

To be continued!
Sanctions: 21Sanctions: 21Sanctions: 21 Sanction this ArticleEditMark as your favorite article

Discuss this Article (79 messages)