Why philosophize about comedy? What is the use of investigating the comical from philosophical and psychoanalytic perspectives? In The Odd One In, Alenka Zupančič considers how philosophy and psychoanalysis can help us understand the movement and the logic involved in the practice of comedy, and how comedy can help philosophy and psychoanalysis recognize some of the crucial mechanisms and vicissitudes of what is called humanity.
Comedy by its nature is difficult to pin down with concepts and definitions, but as artistic form and social practice it is a mode of tarrying with a foreign object—of including the exception. Philosophy's relationship to comedy, Zupančič writes, is not exactly a simple story (and indeed includes some elements of comedy). It could begin with the lost book of Aristotle's Poetics, which discussed comedy and laughter (and was made famous by Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose ). But Zupančič draws on a whole range of philosophers and exemplars of comedy, from Aristophanes, Molière, Hegel, Freud, and Lacan to George W. Bush and Borat. She distinguishes incisively between comedy and ideologically imposed, "naturalized" cheerfulness. Real, subversive comedy thrives on the short circuits that establish an immediate connection between heterogeneous orders. Zupančič examines the mechanisms and processes by which comedy lets the odd one in.
"Arguing that our current 'feel good' society has cheapened the value of comedy, Alenka Zupančič brilliantly restores the genre's subversive edge—that edge whose glint we glimpse in Brecht's insistence that 'If it's not funny, it's not true,' and in Lacan's statement, 'Communication makes you laugh.' Full of delightful surprises and profound observation, The Odd One In is itself odd in the best sense: unique, without peer."
—Joan Copjec, author of Imagine There's No Woman
"In The Gay Science, Nietzsche proclaims 'long live physics!' as the motto of his new, post-metaphysical thinking, suggesting that only the careful study of 'everything that is lawful and necessary in the world' allows for genuine creativity in the sphere of human values. It is only with Alenka Zupančič's new philosophical study of comedy, The Odd One In, that it finally becomes possible to understand Nietzsche's paradoxical claim. For as Zupančič compellingly and beautifully argues, the physics at issue here is precisely a comedic physics of the infinite—the true fr
"That psychoanalysis has much to teach us about tragedy is no secret. What has been long missing from psychoanalytic theory and criticism, however, is a thoroughgoing account of comedy. Such a book has finally appeared, written by one of the strongest minds working at the interfaces of Lacanian theory, philosophy, and literature. Alenka Zupančič has written a book that is sure to delight and challenge practitioners working in drama, psychoanalysis, literary theory, and criticism."
—Julia Lupton, Department of English, University of California, Irvine
"The publication of Alenka Zupančič's new book gives us reason to beconsoled for the discussion of comedy that is missing from Aristotle'sPoetics. Zupančič has written a book that presents a major new theory ofcomedy from a philosophical and psychoanalytic perspective: her ideas areboth a contribution to the great tradition of comic discourse and aremarkably original intervention, with exceptionally powerful interpretiveimplications. This is the great theory of comedy that we have been waitingfor, one that can make sense of Hegel and the Marx Brothers, Aristophanesand Borat. It is elegantly written, and spangled with extraordinaryphilosophical thinking and cultural insights."
—Kenneth Reinhard, UCLA