Quotation by Howard Nemerov

We may suspect that makers of jokes and smart remarks resemble poets at least in this, that they too would be excluded from Plato's Republic; for it is of the nature of Utopia and the Crystal Palace, as Dostoevsky said, that you can't stick your tongue out at it. A joke expresses tension, which it releases in laughter; it is a sort of permissible rebellion against things as they are—permissible, perhaps, because this rebellion is at the same time stoically resigned, it acknowledges that things are as they are, and that they will, after the moment of laughter, continue to be that way. That is why jokes concentrate on the most sensitive areas of human concern: sex, death, religion, and the most powerful institutions of society; and poems do the same.
Howard Nemerov (1920–1991), U.S. poet, novelist, critic. "Bottom's Dream: The Likeness of Poems and Jokes," Reflexions on Poetry and Poetics, Rutgers University Press (1972).
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