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For Terry Jones (and Monty Python)

Not by wrath does one kill, but by laughing. Up, let us kill the spirit of gravity! This crown of the laughter, the rosary crown: to you, my brothers, I throw this crown! I pronounced laughter holy: you higher men, learn — to laugh!

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!

Terry Jones, The Life of Brian

Originally published by Autonomies.

It is no exaggeration to say that laughter is the first school of anarchy. To those who would demand silence before serious things, the child can laugh. Through threats, punishments, fear -first from parents, family, then from the institutions of society and the State – the child learns seriousness; respect for what is deemed “sacred”, thereby discovering a world framed by borders tracing spaces and times where laughter is a gesture of disobedience, a sin and/or a crime.

To laugh is to “profane” the “sacred”, to disrespect what should be submitted to, to cross over the lines that define established orders.

Laughter celebrates levity, playfulness, and makes it possible to make and remake everything that we create.

States, the law, hierarchy drape themselves in solemnity. And our spectacle commodities, “entertainment”, invite only the cynical and impotent laughter of ridicule, reassuring us of our own self-control.

To laugh is to unmask all of this gravity.

These thoughts are born from recent passing of Terry Jones, of the Monty Python troupe, and they are our modest celebration of how much the group made and makes us laugh still.

(For the Guardian obituary for Terry Jones, click here. Terry Jones was also a frequent writer for the Guardian. Click here for his commentaries on politics.)


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