Fade to Black (A Ramble)

Throughout my life I’ve been strangely attracted to dark humor.

Before I wrote software I was a cartoonist, and back then I’d wonder what humor was and why people laugh.

I decided it was madness escaping.

We’re all a little bit insane, doing and believing whatever it takes to avoid the horrible truth that one day we’ll die of old age unless something bad happens first, and when we’re gone the universe will quite clearly continue on just fine without us. Laughter is the sound of that pressure escaping. In a group, it enables us to shed our differences and admit we’re all fucked.

Given that rather bleak perspective, it’s perhaps no surprise that I lean towards dark humor. Not the mean-spirited kind, but instead the kind based on hope.

This is where I start to ramble.

There’s a thing called “middle age settling,” where as you approach middle age you realize you’re not going to change the world as much as you thought you would when you were younger. So you settle on changing a smaller part of the world instead.

In order to do that, you still need hope. Hope that the world is still worth changing, hope that you can at least make things better for the people you love (and maybe even the people you don’t love).

Hope, unfortunately, can be hard to hold onto the more you learn about the world. That seems to have been a problem for some of the dark humorists I’ve enjoyed. As they got older they stopped sounding like disappointed idealists and started sounding like cranky cynics. They faded to black.

That’s something I may struggle with, but so far I haven’t given in to cynicism (of course, I’m a spry young 47, so there’s still time). I continue to laugh at the unpleasant things that bind us, like the universal truth that nothing is funnier than an improperly stifled fart in the middle of a church service. The fact that others laugh with me despite our differences gives me hope.