Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dissecting a Joke, weekly feature

The Joke:
Mulla Nasrudin had been fishing all afternoon. A man, who had just walked up, asked him, "How many have you caught today, Mulla?" "Well," said Nasrudin, "IF I CATCH THIS ONE THAT'S NIBBLING, AND THEN TWO MORE, I WILL HAVE THREE."
...

Nasrudin's answer is entirely correct, so why is the joke funny?

It is because of his misplaced pride, because we know he is no good at fishing while he persists in deluding himself. He is counting future successes while replying to a question about the past.

Don't we all do that? We all have been foolish and inept at some points in our life, but do we ever consider ourselves any less than the the best person around?

What makes a human delude oneself so well that facts don't matter? Justification is always from an intentional standpoint. There is a belief working at the back of every passionate argument. And the fundamental belief is: I am a good person. Even the worst crook, and the most corrupt politician has a self-justifying belief system.

Feelings of being inferior and being worthless are common in depression, but one still has justifications for them, and they are mostly circumstantial (one blames the parents, one's God, the people around) . The feeling of being a victim is strangely pleasurable and self-justifying.

We may think that a criminal would not be able to sleep at night, but that is valid only for an accidental criminal. A seasoned criminal has a perfect story for himself.

One of the best examples in normal life of self-justification is the excuses given by an alcoholic for having a drink:
  • I am having a bad day
  • I am having a great day
  • I am feeling low
  • I am feeling glorious
  • Everybody loves me!
  • Nobody loves me!
  • I am tired and need a break.
  • I am on top of the world and need to celebrate.
  • ...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

this joke, like all mulla jokes, is NOT funny. As if the joke isnt already a burden on the sensibilities, one has to read its analysis???

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi "Anonymous"

- Most people to whom I have told this joke have found it laugh aloud funny.

- You don't have to read either the joke or the analysis. Nobody compels you.

- How is the joke a "burden on the sensibilities"?

Lukas said...

I agree that Nasrudin 'jokes' aren't always funny—but that's because they're not all jokes! They're just stories or anecdotes, some of which happen to be funny.

They're often used to point out the nonsensical parts of society and human interaction. This is one of my favorites, in that regard:

Fishy Morality

That said, I enjoyed this one and thought it was funny.