Mechanical inelasticity

Wilkie, I ORCID: and Diddams, N 'Mechanical inelasticity' , in: Second Nature: Comic Performance and Philosophy , Rowman and Littlefield International (UK). (In Press)

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (348kB) | Request a copy
[img] Microsoft Word - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (43kB) | Request a copy


Bergson’s concept of ‘mechanical inelasticity’ from Laughter (1900) has become a staple of comic theory. We consider whether this idea retains any resonance for the twenty-first century comic spectator. Locating the theory as originally, and specifically, residing in Modernist-age thinking about man and his relationship to the machine, we re-configure Bergson’s formula of technological dynamism to reframe it as something that operates more within the corporeal – as a human form of naturally-occurring, rhythmic, incongruous locomotion. Starting with Bergson’s own definition of ‘raideur de mechanique’, we discuss its re-conceptualisation by Futurists and early film critics. We then attempt to relocate the source of the laughter firmly in physicality and to reframe Bergson’s theory as it operates within innate corporeal movement, considering the body as the physical ‘machine’ as the causative locus of the comic effects. We will also incorporate notions from Meyerhold's biomechanics; Guattari’s ideas of identity created through authentic expressive movement; Lefebvre’s rhythm analysis; Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’; and Causey et al’s repercussions for the posthuman in a digital age to attempt to relocate the notion of mechanical inelasticity in the physiological. In viewing the body itself as the comic source, as a kind of malfunctioning machine caused by the interruption of natural rhythm, we aim to restore Bergson’s view of physical comedy more closely within the apperception of ‘la vivante flexibilité d’une personne’.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Gray, J and Trahair, L
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield International (UK)
Depositing User: Dr I Wilkie
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 03:38

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year