The Laughing Sickness

20 Oct


American Gothic

Laughing Disease or known as the Kuru. Individuals inflicted with this disease eventually laugh themselves to death. This disease appears funny at first as the inflicted person has an infectious laugh and can't stop. They are often seen smiling, giggling, and laughing, laughing, laughing. Many people might not take this condition to be serious; however, it is no laughing matter. According to Wikipedia, "Infarction of the pons and medulla oblongata in the brain may cause pathological laughter." Kuru is actually a prionic disease which means infectious proteins attack the brain causing holes leading this organ to resemble a sponge. Unfortunately, it is incurable. During the late stages of this disease, sufferers are prone to fits of laughter, crying, and other emotional outbursts.

Chrysippus, a Greek philosopher concerned with logic is rumored to have plied his donkey with more than a mere taste of wine one fine day in the third century B.C., and apparently his own antics so tickled him that the old buzzard choked on his own laughter. No news on the donkey, so we must believe at least one ass could hold his liquor.

Thomas Urquhart, a Scottish aristocrat, laughed himself to an early grave in 1660 when he heard that Charles II had taken the throne. Since collections of epigrams were fashionable in the mid seventeenth century, Urquhart published his own, but his contribution to the genre has not been highly regarded. Most critics have concluded that the sentiments are largely banal and the versification inept. Originality is hard to come by. Irony apparently, is not. But we do know his name, so all is not lost. Anonymity will be the gift of today's banal philosophers, if unfortunately, not so for our pop singers.

Zeuxis, a Greek painter, had just completed a painting of an old woman that he apparently found quite humorous. Others claim he was painting an Aphrodite. Either way he supposedly laughed so hard at the depiction that he couldn't catch his breath and ended up choking to death. None of the painter's works survive. According to one source, "He contributed to the composite method of composition, and may have originated an approach to, and thus influenced the concept of, the ideal form of "The Nude," as described by art historian Kenneth Clark. As the story goes, Zeuxis could not find a woman beautiful enough to pose as Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, so he selected the finest features of five different models to create a composite image of ideal beauty."

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"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""