To understand another country …

How much analysis of other countries and cultures, informing both policy and relations with others, gives consideration to what makes them laugh?  Seriously.

Trying to understand another country merely by reading its literature results in limited knowledge even when the literature read is genuinely representative of the country’s various facets.  But to delete from the sampling as large and important an element of a nation’s culture as its humor and satire is to create a hopelessly distorted image.

Imagine if every Ambassadorial or Presidential briefing included a page on the general humour of their interlocutors.  It would take great skill to write such briefings, but think of the wars it might avoid (or, on the other hand, ignite, in the wrong hands).

Source: Leonard Feinberg, ed., Asian Laughter: An Anthology of Oriental Satire and Humor (New York: Weatherhill, 1971), p. 3.

Image credit: JudaM at pixabay


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