To be human is to live with comedy and laughter. This book is at once a serious guide to that form of human incongruity we call humor and an entertaining em-bodiment of humor itself. Designed to cross disciplinary boundaries, this "handbook of humor" directs itself to the sense and nonsense of humor in contem-porary individual and social life.
The author examines the phenomenon of comic laughter from a variety of per-spectives: philosophic, psychological, social, and religious. Such practical themes are dealt with as the function of human laughter (therapeutic and other), the relation between comedy and suffering, the link between humor and forgiveness, and humor in the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust.
Sitting in the Earth and Laughing is organized on the working assumption that humor is born of paradox and contradiction. Hence a book on humor, even a scholarly one, ought to be funny. In that spirit, the author alternates chapters of serious study with chapters composed of illustrative humorous material. "Serious" chapters include distinctive efforts to understand the reality of comic laughter; the laughter of children, tha clown, and the fool; the quality of secular humor within the Jewish tradition; and the vexing question of whether there is such a discrete phenomenon as Christian or theological laughter.
The work includes many of Dr. Eckardt's own fanciful stories, essays, and verses as well as material derived from student malapropisms, from children, and from professional humorists and comedians. Appearing at a time of burgeoning scholarly and popular interest in the domain of humor, Sitting in the Earth and Laughing shows how humor and laughter lie within the realm of human mysteries-together with tragedy, suffering, and love-that can be comprehended and relished.