The Politics of Joking
The advent of the Reformation and the start of the Dutch Revolt or Eighty Years War (1568–1648) have strongly disturbed the emotional economy of the Netherlanders. Some of them complained in chronicles and songs that they did not know whether to cry or laugh about the changes that were taking place.1 Although these seem to be spontaneous emotions, they also definitely had a cultural meaning. As shown in the previous chapter, the humoral alternation of laughing and weeping promoted good health. In contemporary love poetry laughter and crying confusedly melted into one another or hid each other.2 The literate were familiar with the oppositional but parallel reactions of the eternally laughing philosopher Democritus and his counterpart, the weeping Heraclitus. On Bruegel’s Peasant Dance and Peasant Wedding Banquet laughing and frowning figures mimic the same mixing of the passions.3
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Popular Culture Catholic Religion Humoral Alternation
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.