Comedy’s dualistic view of the person as an inconsistent blend of instinctual physical and logical intellect is inherently ironic—implying the ability to see things from two perspectives. The comedic drama adopts satirical characteristics as it focuses on acts of virtue and their antitheses. Satire presupposes benchmarks by which trades and practices are assessed. The sarcastic perception grows darker and more intense when the professions show themselves to be hollow and the behaviors to be violent. The grotesque is implied by the mingling of incongruous elements, which is indicated by the aspect of paradox.
Aristotle is thought to have authored a treatise on comedy, but it has since been lost. However, an incomplete treatise on comedy is believed to be either a rewrite of a lost Aristotelian original or an expression of the intellectual school to which he belonged. This book is related to Aristotle’s treatise on tragedy, Poetics. The De Coislin Collection in Paris houses a manuscript from the 10th century that contains the Tractatus Coislinianus.
humor as a ritual
Since the Tractatus wasn’t published until 1839, the comedic theory has benefited from its influence until recently. In much the same way that James George Frazer integrated studies of primitive religion and society with anthropology in The Golden Bough, it is frequently used in studies that combine literary criticism and anthropology (1890–1915). In these pieces, both comedy and tragedy can be traced to a prehistoric ritual of death and resurrection, a seasonal pantomime in which the old year is killed in the form of an aged king (or hero or god), and the new spirit of fertility, the resurrection or initiation of the young king, is brought in.