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Oct 27 2006

Public Cans of Austin: Emo’s

can_emos.jpg

Feast your eyes upon the sink in the can at Emo’s on Red River while you contemplate today’s question.

What is “fun”?

Because of its early associations — many of which were not without their cheap French whiff of the meretricious (it’s not called ‘tomfoolery’ for nothin) — with practical jokes, cons, and hoaxes, Johnson in 1755 thought it a ‘low cant word’, but today everbody loves fun. In fact, in these days of plastic-scented anti-enlightenment, fun, especially if bouncy blonde beach babes bubble all over it, is often ordained as an end justifiable by any means. Does a truly innocent diversion exist? Does class enter into it? In what ways is fun subject, perhaps invisibly, to patriarchal dogma and assumptions made by the dominant culture?

I must know!

51 comments

3 pings

  1. joolya

    I reckon I have a warped idea of “fun”, as a big nerd type cranky person.

    I do find, though, that things which are supposed to be fun, or which are billed as fun, usually aren’t. Examples incude New Year’s Eve, weddings, theme parks, strip clubs, family holidays, karaoke, bachelorette parties, dance clubs, and a capella shows. Things that are sold as “fun” are usually trying way too hard, with the result being that they are creepy or embarassing or stressful – or all three.

    How is the patriarchy to blame? Aside from the strip clubs, I think it is to blame indirectly, and that the death of fun is more a symptom of plasticine capitalism. “I want FUN served up on a platter with french fries and coke. One size fits all!” People eat this shit up and have no idea that it doesn’t actually taste like anything. It’s just packaging.

    Real fun is a surprise. A long lunch on a sunny day with a great book, or climbing on rocks at the beach, or a concert you weren’t really expecting to be good but which rocked, or ditching work and going to a movie with a cute co-worker. But you can’t bottle and sell that kind of fun. You just have to keep your eyes open and jump for it when it happens.

  2. teffie-phd

    Rough questions for a Friday afternoon. My first thought was I dunno. Especially about the tinged with patriarchy part.

    I find a lot of things about parenting fun (but not all of it). The little adventures of funny mundaneness where my kids say or do something funny, or we just play a game or do a craft together and it’s all very “in the moment” since that’s what kids are all about. And I knit and that’s fun for me.

    But if I were to get more analytical, then I look at the whole idea of child rearing, or buying (too much yarn) the the fact that what I play at for fun is dictated by class and race and gender and then it’s just not so fun anymore. Just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean it ain’t patriarchy.

    However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t give me pleasure. And to keep myself from exploding from too much thought, I’ll choose not to think about it too much.

    But I also try not be “thoughtless” all the time in order to avoid falling into the morass of fun over politics or fun over revolution or whatever you want to call it. It’s easy to pick fun when you’re a rich white chick like me and forget all the shit the world’s women endure.

    How’s that? I need a beer.

  3. gennimcmahon

    Oh, Twisty, the headache you have given me (=not fun). Being well trained by the patriarchy, I first thought, “Sex is fun!” But, well, hours could be spent on that, hence I then thought, “If I think about this, I’ll never have sex again…” That spawned the realization that ALCOHOL is the solution to having to think about one’s fun, at least right then. One may have to think about it in the morning, however.

    I do dislike the idea that most fun requires the spending of money, as the cult of consumerism will likely cause the downfall of civilization long before we manage to fix (read: neuter) the patriarchy. I dare to defy the expectations of my gender and say that shopping is NOT fun. My life, at this time, is well short of fun, which I ponder frequently. Fun can be had for free, but rarely planned on, and the more leisure one has, the more fun exists, so it’s definitely a function of class. I feel a headache coming on.

    I’m with teffie, I need a drink……

  4. Esme

    Well, I can sit down to a meal and eat delicious food. That’s fun. I can masturbate. That’s fun. I can read these blogs. That’s fun. I can squish into a small place with a bunch of friends and talk and laugh for hours. That’s fun.

    Fun is what you make of it.

  5. maggiethewolf

    I think fun is pleasant sensation, as in drinking a chocolate milkshake, or pleasant connection, as in having a fine chat, or pleasant sensation and connection, as in sex.

    Considering that we’re eating the Earth or at least the thin crust that sustains us, and given that patriarchy and consumerism are forever entwined as lovers and forever lusty for the other, I think that high consumption-fun, as in a day at Great America, does support patriarchy. Of course, all fun consumes, even if you’re walking in capri pants on a beach and consuming leisure (while 18-year olds in sweat shops keep sewing capri pants for those who consume leisure). Otherwise, the consumers of leisure would have to stay home to sew their own damn clothes.

    I think the reason that Blamers are craving drinks is because contemplating the costs of fun takes the fun out of fun.

  6. finnsmotel

    “I think the reason that Blamers are craving drinks is because contemplating the costs of fun takes the fun out of fun.”

    I don’t think it takes the fun out of fun to contemplate the cost. Maybe it’s because I’m male, but I got ‘ok’ with being a fuckup a long time ago.

    Fun is the sensation of receiving energy.

    It doesn’t make it less fun to recognize that someone else had to give up some energy for me to get it. Hell, sometimes that makes me appreciate it even more.

  7. Heraclitus

    I agree with the commenters above who say “fun” is a product of mass society, a commodity defined by its banality and mindlessness. People who actually enjoy “fun” always make me very depressed.

    But maybe a distinction between “fun” and “play,” where play is the (perhaps Zen-like) immersion in the sort of events or activities some of the commenters described above, the unexpected pleasure in small events that don’t conform to or even reference what is usually prescribed as “fun”? Play would then be pleasurable, at least in large part, because it means release from various pressures. Play then would maybe be more enjoyable the more oppressed one was, but also, of course, harder to partake of at all. In this case, the more privileged one is, the harder it would be to enjoy play, as it would be hard to drag oneself out of the fog of ennui, anomie, and other experiences of bored depression pioneered and perfected by the French.

    By the way, Twisty, you rock my world. You’re one of the most talented writers I’ve seen on the internets. And I really like that picture of you on your front page. You must have a really good hair-dresser. Or did you do your hair yourself–?!

  8. robin

    One of the most noxious phrases in the English language is “hey, we were just having a little fun”, spoken with a nasty sneer, as in the case of the “boys” at Duke with their hired stripper, or the men prone to taunting and beating someone of a different race or sexual orientation. Or, “can’t they take a joke” spoken to excuse some foul statement of hate.
    I suggest we take back the work “fun” from these horrible fun-hijackers.
    There are gradations of fun I guess:
    low Patriarchy-infected fun: Playing music with friends is one of the funnest things I know, for instance, and doesn’t take anything from anybody. It is done in the evening, after an honest day’s work.
    medium: Owning a pet is fun but usually has ties to bad things, unless said pet came from a shelter.
    Laughing at pets dressed in funny costumes. Definately fun, probably not totally wonderful.
    high: Cars, competitive sports, most movies, riding motorcycles – hey, usually guys like to do these things the most! Whaddya know!

  9. robin

    I meant “word” instead of “work”

    I’d better leave before I post yet another mistake-ridden comment.

  10. LurkerD

    Rather than wrap my brain around the many ways that “fun” is connected to the patriarchy, I will instead note that the notion of “fun” is completely connected with matters of class and privilege (or lack thereof).

  11. maggiethewolf

    I like your gradient, Robin.

    And LurkerD is right. Working 18 hours a day is like having a 92-pound leech attached to your face. Kinda hard to have any kinda fun when you have leech-face.

  12. robin

    My daughter spent the summer in Nicaragua in a rural village, and she claimed that the people she lived with seemed to have more fun than we do. I got the impression that, in general, the people in that community experienced less stress than many wealthier American communities. The people were quite poor, but there was a lot of non-toxic “fun” there. Much dancing took place, for instance.
    Lots of walking and exercise was built into their daily lives, and there was a pretty strong sense of community. A motherless family was sort of adopted by the whole village for instance.
    Most poor people in America, particularly the working poor, do have to drag around the 98 pound leech (eew, M-t-W! very descriptive!) , and that’s got to be very stressful.
    I’m claiming stress and lack of community as a major leecher of fun as much as poverty and lack of privilege. Often they go hand in hand, but not always.

  13. MandyB

    I’m not sure what fun is, but I am pretty sure that I threw up in or near that very sink at Emo’s 10 or so years ago while definitely not having fun.

  14. ms_mutt

    Fun would be a Friday night with one of those drag kings.

  15. thebewilderness

    As a small child I went into a “Fun House” at an amusement park. It was neither fun nor funny. In fact it was a harrowing experience.
    People, their pleasures and their language are much more complex than can be categorized by an inconsequential, overused term like fun. I blame the patriarchy for sucking the juice from our language and spitting out the seeds.

  16. kathy a

    fun is joy that is experienced personally and in the moment. so somebody else’s fun might not be mine, or vice versa.

    i don’t have huge amounts of fun in my present grown-up life as a parent of teens, working at home. but it is really fun having wild baby formerly-feral kittens running around! silliness is wildly under-rated, in my opinion.

  17. Burrow Klown

    I like things like rolling down grassy hills, jumping in big piles of leaves, biking around town, taking walks in ‘scenic’ (meaning unpopulated) places, hanging out with friends, reading books, laying out in the sun, etc. are fun. Most things I like to do require little or no money (because I usually don’t have any…I feel rich now that I have SSI).

    Also I think most things I like to do are free of patriarchy, they’re just pure fun that usually only children allow themselves to have. Try as I might I can’t find anything patriarchal or gendered about jumping in a huge pile of leaves or rolling down a nice green, grassy hill.

  18. emma goldman

    1. “does a truly innocent diversion exist?” I’m not convinced a diversion has to be innocent to be allowed to qualify as fun–in some ways, quite the contrary. That is, I think it’s a combination of awareness–of context, of ephemerality, of the embeddedness of an activity or sensation, of the sensation–and of giving oneself up to the experience that can result in fun. I think the mindless crap marketed as fun involves pretty much the opposite of awareness.

    2. Does class enter into it? How could it not? You blame the patriarchy–and I do, too–but I also blame capitalism as a separate entity, despite the love that patriarchy and capitalism have for each other. That is, “fun” is class-bound insofar as the experiences likely to be available are dependent, in part, on all kinds of things that are related to class. On the other hand, awareness is less class-bound.

    3. In what ways is fun subject to . . . ? Insofar as patriarchy and capitalism attempt (insofar as either can be said to have agency) to be totalizing systems of thought and behavior, then fun is subject to the constraints those systems impose and, perhaps more important, embed in our brains. But if awareness is possible at all, then I think it’s like sex: it’s possible to steal moments of our own, even as we recognize that boundaries we can’t even see exist.

    I could be wrong, though.

  19. typonaut

    Surf is fun. Riding on it, swimming through it, jumping up and down in it, being tossed in the washing machine and coming out with sinuses and ears chock full o’ seawater.

    Good conversation is fun.

    # kathy a said:
    “fun is joy that is experienced personally and in the moment. so somebody else’s fun might not be mine, or vice versa.”
    “…silliness is wildly under-rated, in my opinion.”

    Hear, hear!

    # 17 Burrow Klown said:
    “I like things like rolling down grassy hills, jumping in big piles of leaves, biking around town, taking walks in ’scenic’ (meaning unpopulated) places, hanging out with friends, reading books, laying out in the sun, etc. are fun. Most things I like to do require little or no money (because I usually don’t have any…I feel rich now that I have SSI).

    “Also I think most things I like to do are free of patriarchy, they’re just pure fun that usually only children allow themselves to have. Try as I might I can’t find anything patriarchal or gendered about jumping in a huge pile of leaves or rolling down a nice green, grassy hill.”

    Me too! Me neither.

    I think the funnest things are probably the least patriarchal. Swings, climbing trees, rolling around with happy dogs.

  20. KTal

    Not once have I bought fun, nor sold it, nor traded it. I haven’t held it in my hand, enclosed it to save for a day, planned for it or made it come on command.

    I do often yearn for it though, have shared in the results of it, with others, feeling the adrenelin thrill of a good laugh, or forgetting my adulthood for a moment and becoming the child I once was totally and still am partly.

    Immersing in my children, even now as they are older, all together spontaneously for a few minutes or a couple of hours, joking, laughing, making connection and affirming long and deep bonds.

    Same with anyone else I know; it is connection and the mutual pleasure of understanding a phrase and its twist or reacting to the unexpected which may unfold before us.

    Laughing out loud in my empty house to a blog comment or post, feeling the sensation of pleasure as my mind connects with the writer and sees the irony, or the ridiculous or the hilarious.

    All the fun I see myself experience involves others. Even though I am a very private person, I love people and making connection with others makes life rich. Sharing a laugh with a customer or a co-worker, a friend, a stranger on the street, enjoying my children in any number of activities.

    Fun is fun because it is the activity or happening which causes our brain to squirt all that momentary good juice that makes us feel so damn warm and fuzzy (med people can insert hormones or whatever in that simplified version). It is a reaction to something, whether real or imaginary that causes this to occur. Usually stimulated by someone else’s presence.

    And free of competition, expectation, anticipation or fear.

    Yes, fun seems to encompass us humans completely stripped to our barest humanity, our barest and most basic mammalian roots, completely encapsulated by endorphins and that resulting tingling good stuff coursing through our bodies. And we feel good, we feel glad to be alive and damn, that’s fun.

  21. KTal

    And fun would also be taking a sledge to that red cesspool and redoing that room with something fit to wash in, much less look at without losing your lunch.

  22. Buttercup

    that sink? ewwwwww.

  23. maggiethewolf

    KTal, what you wrote is beautiful.

    Robin, I once read that the world’s happiest people are in Nigeria. I haven’t traveled, but people who have told me that they see bliss in what we deem bleak places.

  24. scratchy888

    Girls just wanna have FUN. Thatsall we really waaahaaahaaant. Tell it to your aaahaaah aaahnt.

  25. Urban

    “Ah, yes, fun: the employment of time in a profitless and non-practical way.”
    – Kryten (Red Dwarf)

    Things that I don’t deem ‘fun’ usually involve huge build-up and anticipation and then turn out to be grindingly disappointing, such as the time I liberated £55 (around $100) from my wallet to attend an REM concert in Hyde Park along with 120,000 other fools. Or New Year’s Eve (good call!) which is never fun, and usually involves overwrought drinking by people attempting to disguise feelings of depression and inadequacy marked in years rather than minutes. Fun is never forced.

    I had a good time when I went to see the Scissor Sisters on the spur of the moment at a really tiny venue with one of my best friends. The atmosphere and friendliness of the crowd made it awesome. ‘A good time’ and ‘fun’ are the same thing to me. Maybe that’s too simplistic, but in truth, I’ve never tried to analyse it before this very moment.

    In which case, fun for me is having a good debate with someone who really makes you think, or positive new experiences shared with a person you love. It’s never fun for me when someone’s feelings are hurt. I don’t buy into the ‘harmless fun’ excuse used to hurt others. Ever.

    Influence of the patriarchy? Well, to me it seems that many of the (western) societally-approved ‘fun’ events involve some kind of competition, even if it’s just a circular competition to see who is having the most ‘fun’. Generally I don’t find competition ‘fun’ because there’s always a loser. Fun, to me, is non-comparative and private (emotionally private, I mean, not that I can’t have fun with other people physically present).

    Thanks, Twisty, for making me think about it.

  26. junegloom

    Fun. That crazy, kooky construct of marketing hype. That flagrant, elusive grail of advertising that has infiltrated every corner of our lives. Fun Dora the Explorer and fun Sponge Bob pimping boxes of Sugar Smacks and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the grocery store aisles. Fun the sex you’ll have with hot, underage chicks if you just get them drunk enough on sweet, colorful, playfully packaged “malternatives.” (A better tag line for Mike’s Hard Lemonade: It’s not your older brother’s Rufie.)

    Fun the brainwash. Fun the bullshit. Fun the promise of which keeps everyone in a perpetual state of desire. The genius of fun: it’s desire always unfulfilled. The junk food gets you juvenile diabetes. The alco-pops get you raped, killed in a car crash, or, if you’re lucky, just puke sick all over some dive bar sink. If you survive today’s quest for fun, you’ll require another fun quest tomorrow.

    The pied piper of fun so much easier to submit to than cold, decidedly un-fun reality: irreversible climate change; a planet that will be incapable of sustaining our fun consumptive lifestyle in the next thirty odd years; young women getting boob jobs and perfecting stripper moves in the name of a newfangled, fun feminist liberation. It’s all about choices. It’s all about fun.

  27. jc.

    At 56 I still have “fun” sometimes, but mostly I try to recognise and appreciate when I´m content with my existence and circumstances.
    It´s a good thing and really not meant to be as insipid as it sounds.
    The state of the world and humanitys vast capacity for general willful savageness and glorification of ignorance and repression is a continual source of personal frustration, anger and fear. Not to forget the casual uncaring joker cards of tragedy that the universe randomly deals us.
    So though I may not always achieve fun I actually am sometimes quite content, for the moment.
    I may not be able to describe fun but I recognise it when I´m having it (hopefully), to paraphrase.

  28. Burrow Klown

    typonaut-I can’t believe I forgot swings!!! They’re the best invention ever (barring maybe soap). I could play on swings all day, trying to go as high as I can and jump farther then I did before.

    In this patriarchal capitalistic (I feel they’re the same, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish) society we overlook the simple joys of existence looking for (as others have pointed out) the elusive packaged fun. Like the joy of rolling around in grass, feeling the crisp coolness against your body and being overwhelmed by the sweet smell.

    Kids love me because they see me as a giant version of themselves. And I am so happy that I am still that way at 32. Nothing can replace a game of chase or pretend with a gaggle of kids. I’m glad I grew up poor. I doubt I would know as much joy and fun as I do if I didn’t. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s not raining tommorrow, because right now all I want to do is roll down a hill.

  29. Edith

    Fun is reading this blog and talking with my best friend/blogging partner Vicky Vengeance.

    Swings are not fun if you suffer from astonishingly harsh motion sickness, as I do. I blame the p.

  30. Edith

    By the way, I am totally digging the hippie-dippie comments about fun from y’all. Like I am groovin’ on your run-through-the-meadows vibes for real. It’ll probably get annoying a few dozen comments later, though. Oh wow, don’t mean to harsh on anyone’s mellow (trails off meaningfully [hippies use ellipses])….

  31. Delphyne

    Raping and urinating on 12 a year old is FUN for the boys involved according to their parents -

    “THE devastated father of a teenage girl shown degraded and sexually abused on a DVD vows to hunt down those responsible.

    The film shows up to 12 youths from the outer western suburb of Werribee attacking the girl, said to be intellectually impaired.

    It shows members of the group urinating on the girl, setting fire to her hair and shows her performing lurid acts on the boys.

    DVD copies of the video have been sold in schools in Melbourne’s west for $5.

    “Alan”, the father of 17-year-old victim “Julie”, said his family was suffering “great grief” as a result of the attack, which he said occurred in June.

    “We are speaking to the police. There are going to be charges. She has been abused and we will find out,” he told ABC Radio today.

    “We are going to pursue this to the end to make sure that justice comes because the community needs to know more about these things.”

    Julie arranged to meet two of the boys through the MSN internet chat service and thought she was going to a shopping centre but, soon after arriving at Werribee, she was forced by a gang of up to 12 to a nearby river bank, where the attack took place, Alan said.

    “We knew something had happened because my daughter had been a very happy-go-lucky sort of kid that changed on a particular weekend.

    “We’ve had her in counselling for three months. The counsellor, who I spoke to last night, said she’s only just starting to open up to this stuff.

    “It’s a horrible, horrible thing that has happened to my daughter.

    “I’m appealing to anyone whose son or daughter might be witnesses to this, this video.

    “Your kids are going to be seeing something that should never happen to any young girl, and we are going to be living with this forever.

    “I was told by Channel 7 that the two parents of the two boys that made this laughed it off and said it was just a bit of fun.”

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,20635828-661,00.html

  32. MissIzzy

    Life is work. Fun is whatever moments you can find in between all the dreariness which make life worth living if you don’t have a religion handy to promise fun in the afterlife instead. Taking photos of trees in autumn, singing every song about rain you can remember when stuck walking through the rain, writing good fiction when the creative juices are flowing, etc.

  33. Twisty

    A lot of you are describing what I would define as “joy”. There’s a difference between fun and joy. Fun is action transpiring over a finite interval, joy is more a state of consciousness.

    I promise, by the way, that I’m not trolling my own blog. There’s no gotcha at the end of this.

  34. FemiMom

    Fun is reading great posts about puppies and swings. Fun is knowing that there are great fun partiarchy blamers out there.
    Delphine – your post was not fun. I want to cry, but I think I’ll just go make cupcakes with my kid. Now, that’s fun.

  35. Delphyne

    No it wasn’t fun, but I thought Twisty was trying to get at what fun means in our culture, rather than individual posters’ experiences.

    There almost seems to be a moral imperative these days that we *must* have fun and anybody who isn’t joining in is a spoilsport and a killjoy – even when the fun might actually be coming at the expense of another person.

  36. bigbalagan

    When I party, I party hearty—
    Fun is on my mind!
    —name that tune.

  37. bigbalagan

    Fun is the reification of joy so that it can be produce, marketed, and sold as a commodity. A low cant word it should remain. One sematic indicator is the one always “has” fun—its a thing that can be possessed. Here, “have” some fun…

    Plus, “you’re no fun” means that you won’t join in someone else’s projection. Hot fun in the summertime, for example. Joy is infectious and subversive. Fun is quantifiable and can be nicely wrapped to go.

  38. Jillanne

    Years ago, when I mentioned to the professor of a course called Intro. to Graduate Studies (in English) that I found coursework fun, she looked at me quizzically and sort of snorted,“Fun?” one eyebrow raised in incredulous surprise. (This professor, especially through her Feminist Narratology course, would ultimately influence my desire to blame the patriarchy.) At any rate, her reaction to my comment about “fun” made me question my understanding of the word. Up to that point for me, coursework had been fun, as in Twisty’s definition, “Fun is action transpiring over a finite interval.” I should explain that, a few years before this incident, I had returned to college to finish my undergraduate degree after a spectacularly unsuccessful first attempt. Extremely insecure about my ability to succeed, I channeled all my formerly self-destructive energies–and they were/are considerable–into compulsive studying. When it became apparent to me that I was actually good at school, it became fun.

    So perhaps “fun” is connected to a positive sense of self or identity. Perhaps activities that reinforce our comfort with ourselves, our security in our identities, are fun. I suspect my professor reacted negatively to my comment about graduate coursework being fun because she viewed “fun” as something too happy-go-lucky, la la la la la, to apply to the often uncomfortable, even painful work of confronting one’s hidden biases and assumptions that goes hand in hand with becoming educated about the horrors of history, of psychology, of patriarchy. Such an education is meant to change the way we think not only about the world around us, but about ourselves. And anything that aims to alter our very identities must be threatening and uncomfortable to some degree, and therefore probably not fun.

    However, I wonder how humor–the comic or the funny–plays into this. Some great work in the area of consciousness raising is done through comedy (I include Twisty’s work here), and that seems to be a way to get people to question themselves, to become critical about aspects of their identities, in a way that may be classified as fun.

    I appreciate Twisty and all her bloggers because the content of this site reminds me of my own biases and assumptions. It reminds me of how insidious patriarchal oppression is. It reminds me to be vigiliant and angry. But it also makes me laugh and provides some considerable fun!

  39. Jillanne

    Hi Everybody,

    I don’t know what the hell happened up there with my first post. Sorry about all the weirdness. I cut and pasted a Word document, and apparently something went haywire with the quotation marks and apostrophes. I assure you, they were flawless before their journey into the electronic ether! Perhaps Twisty will let me edit my post. Has this happened to anyone else?

    Jillanne

  40. Jillanne

    I see that my apostrophes and quotation marks have somehow fixed themselves, but alas, I wasn’t vigilant enough about my spelling! Is there any way to edit our comments once they’ve been posted?

  41. Twisty

    “Is there any way to edit our comments once they’ve been posted?”

    Nope. But don’t worry. Nobody will remember these typos in 100 years.

  42. KTal

    “Fun is action transpiring over a finite interval, joy is more a state of consciousness.”

    Oo- Oo! I said ‘action’ like three times in my post. I am going to take the liberty to draw the inference that Twisty means I’m right and of course, by being ‘right’ that means someone was ‘wrong’ and that means I win and someone else loses and I feel like a Big Shot and I am going to tell someone.

    When I find someone who will believe me or give a shit. Some people call that fun.

  43. Chris Clarke

    Fun is the reification of joy so that it can be produce, marketed, and sold as a commodity.

    That is a damned beautiful line. I don’t know if I agree with it. But I love it. It’s a brilliant summation.

    Anyway, Twisty took the wind out of my sails with her splitting “joy” out from “fun.” This is a surprisingly difficult and enjoyable question. I blame the partyarchy.

  44. hedonistic

    Storytelling is an innocent pleasure, something the global thermonuclear megatheocraticorporatocracy (god I love that Twistyism!) cannot take away from us. It can beat us down and oppress us but it cannot take away our stories.

    Dancing, too. Self-made music. Art.

    I blame the patriarchy that I never learned how to cook from scratch with food I grew myself, because eating well is the most fun of all! Unfortunately, even something so simple as eating has been co-opted by the System and turned into something we do at other people’s expense.

  45. saltyC

    What looks like work can be fun.

    Take cooking and sewing. I think it’s a gas. But people who had no choice but to drudge at it, don’t. Same reason people who have been homeless or close to it don’t always enjoy camping.

    To children, housework is fun, I can tell by the way my 16-month-old pretends to clean up.

    I really had fun drawing and making animations until I had to do it for a living.

    I think fun is not just chemical, you also have to believe you’re having fun. I have had my neurons bathed in dopamine and not had a good time, because I knew it was wrong.

  46. maggiethewolf

    Amen to what hedonistic wrote about storytelling. Stories are how we understand our world and if we’re understanding something other than “the horror, the horror,” that understanding can be fun.

    saltyC also makes a good point here: “I have had my neurons bathed in dopamine and not had a good time, because I knew it was wrong.”

  47. The Baboon

    I like saltyC’s identification that “fun” is opposed to “work”, and to the associated ideas of adulthood and responsibility. “Fun” is therefore associated with childhood and irresponsibility, which is where the patriarchy has an oppo to sneak in. Being childish and irresponsible can be a non-capitalist, non-patriarchal enterprise – e.g, the jumping in leaves – but the P does have a field day with the combinations of marketing, sex, male irresponsibility and female childishness. And there wouldn’t be so much of an association of fun with childishness if adulthood wasn’t so conceptually divorced from fun and playfulness.

    And there’s the Brave New World patriarchy-capitalism double-team for you – we permit the strict division of work from fun when we are alienated from our own labor, we do the 98-lb leech work thing, and then in our limited free time we allow them to sell our “fun” back to us in carefully patriarchy- and capitalism-supporting forms. All hail leafpile-jumpers, music-makers, cat-wranglers and pointless-laughers for helping to subvert the partyarchy.

  48. Twisty

    OK, now I’ll tell yall I do for the occasional diversion. I’ll be walking downtown, say along Congress Ave, and at some point I’ll stick my butt way out. I’ll butt-walk for maybe a block. It’s comical. For some reason the way this feels makes me laugh my ass off.

  49. maggiethewolf

    Twisty, I butt-walk every damn day, ’cause my butt sticks way out by itself.

  50. darkymac

    Fun is doing The Swan on the trombone at the big district band eisteddfod and singing, instead of playing, the top A (Bflat) because you’re so fixated on a woman in the front row with her hat crooked that you can’t keep your embouchure for smirking.
    And the funniest part is that someone had done it somewhere else that you can’t quite remember at the time, but you are already giggling in anticipation at that one too.

    No marks. But a huge distraction for the crowd – and judges collapsing with trying not to laugh.

    Transcendent, barely controlled, boundary-stretching action.
    I’d never pay anyone to have it.

  51. maggiethewolf

    I think, with enough knowledge, that nothing is fun. There are no victimless acts. Even jumping into a pile of leaves maims and kills various lifeforms. Canoeing floats us lightly on the Earth, but constructing the canoe killed critters and buying the canoe diverted dollars that could have saved someone. And so on. I think fun depends upon the suspension of understanding. For example, one might host a splendid party in a splendid house, but it’s dependent upon inequity and that house, if it isn’t utterly green, warms the Earth. Even then, it disrupts ecosystems.

    Fun happens when we forget.

  1. A Brief Note on Fun at Faux Real Tho!

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