‘Perfect Laughter’: On War, Wyndham Lewis and The Wild Body
This chapter examines the extreme laughter of the First World War, in relation to Wyndham Lewis’s early collection of short stories, The Wild Body (1909–11, 1917–8, 1927). Right from the start of the collection, the central narrator appeals to an extreme version of the Cartesian ‘split’ between mind and body, in his conception of laughter. The chapter explores the implications of such a dualistic split, particularly in terms of the highly polarised laughter produced by modern warfare. Laughter is dualistic and polarised in many ways for Lewis, to the point that apparently opposite positions, images and ideas can (playfully and violently) coexist in his work, beyond logical contradiction.