On 10/11/06 17:14, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

Matthew Roth brought up the word "ament", about which I had posted a comment in the past weeks, and linking it to "amentia".
While still checking the correctness of my quote about Freud's joke on itineraries ( where he doesn't mention Pinsk or Minsk but Cracow and Lemberg -  and from which the added "scouse-not" is absent*), I found the correlation Freud established between the famous:
 "Traduttore-Traditore", and another pair,
 "Amantes-Amentes"  ( "Lovers-Fools")  - both of them examples of "Modifikationswitz", as on page 49 in Freud's Der Witz und Seine Beziehung Zum Unbewussten der Humor, Psychologie Fischer, 1992. In the English Standard Edition,vol. VIII, 1905).   


* - The original joke reads: "Wenn du sagst, du fahrst nach Krakau, willst du doch, dass ich glauben soll, du fahrst nach Lemberg. Nun weiss ich aber, dass du wirklich fahrst nach Krakau. Also warum lügst du?", on  page 130.PF,1992).  Freud quotes it as an example of "sceptical humor", when the "truth" under attack comes not by questioning a person or an institution, but our own speculative abilities.
VN's sceptical chuckle hides behind Kinbote's various apparent flights of fancy.
A great part of Kinbote's style can be found as underlying the techniques outlined by Freud on his work on "Witzen".

Jansy: I never doubted that Freud told the joke as you reported. Simply that I felt the added ‘not’ increased the RQ (Risibility Quotient -- a rather subjective metric). Jokes are NOT cast in stone (that’s a funny-false mixed metaphor, by the way!) -- and when you say ‘original joke’ I hope you don’t mean there are no earlier versions. We all know that Austrian witch-doctors have no sensayuma — but they can often make us laugh (and/or cry laughing?) unintentionally — as when they pick a pun to pieces — pulling off the butterfly’s wings or dissecting their willies [sic] to see how they NO longer work!

As with VN’s ‘Red Sox beat Yanks 5-4/ On Chapman’s Homer’: I reassert that the historical events (teams, scores, dates) can usefully be explored (I share your infinite Nabokovian curiosity!) BUT the essential giggle remains even if a Chapman never played a damned game against them damned Yankees. Or, to be more precise, there’s a giggle for those with the minimum requisite knowledge — that a home-run in baseball and the putative author of the Odyssey/Iliad accidentally share the same name; and there was this translator guy Chapman. It’s delicious VN fun to note that Kinbote LACKS (or claims to lack) this minimum knowledge: his commentary on line 98 suggests that a printer’s absentmindedness has led to the droll transposition of Keats’ famous sonnet title into the account of a sports event.

The reader can therefore add to this joke-appreciation minimum in diverse directions: Chapman’s Homer inspired Keats, extending familiarity with that collocation to a wider (US) audience; that a Chapman DID join the Red Sox, at which point many a headline compositor would have gleefully set up the headline template (Red Sox beat [blank] on Chapman’s Homer) in ANTICIPATION of the event celebrated in Aunt Maud’s  thumbtacked Star newspaper cutting. There’s a Brit precedent which happens to link with our penis-euphemism exchanges (sorry SES — you’ve tried to limit this topic) although the slang may be unfamiliar to non-Brit listers: in Fritz Spiegl’s anthology of newspaper infelicites (The Black on White Misprint Show) is the headline ‘John Thomas Record — 5’ 10” ‘ Yes, as soon as a real John Thomas (also meaning ‘penis’ -- don’t ask why) took up the High Jump professionally, the papers were ready to exploit a name that must have plagued him since christening.

Finally (before I exceed Carolyn’s N-L quota): you could argue that the two participants in the Freud joke need to be of a certain mock-disputatious disposition, which is perhaps why all the versions I’ve heard portray them as stereotypical ‘midrashic’ Jews; and why the destinations are chosen accordingly; and why it comes over best in Yiddish.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

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