The comic as a critical way of undercutting fanaticism

evergreenhomeland

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone:

How to understand "The comic as a critical way of undercutting fanaticism" in following sentences?

I was wondering that "undercutting fanaticism" sort of "gain popular with less effort"?Sorry,just wild guess.


And I believe that in The Name of the Rose, I did, in narrative form, flesh out a certain theory of the comic. The comic as a critical way of undercutting fanaticism. A diabolical shade of suspicion behind every proclamation of truth.(the final paragraph of the interview)

The source is Interviews---Umberto Eco, The Art of Fiction No. 197 (Interviewed by Lila Azam Zanganeh) from the Paris Review.

 
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I see "undercutting" here as similar to "undermining": attacking the thing it rests on, so that it falls (figuratively). In other words, "attacking fanaticism at its roots".
     

    evergreenhomeland

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I see "undercutting" here as similar to "undermining": attacking the thing it rests on, so that it falls (figuratively). In other words, "attacking fanaticism at its roots".
    Thanks for your suggestion.
    Do you mean "fanaticism" corresponds to "proclamation of truth"(the last sentence)?

    BTW.
    I have read last a few paragraphs to understand it. I guess that relates to Eco's insight with the difference between human and animals. And in his opinion, that why we have the comic. Here, I am not sure the comic and the comedy are of the same thing.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I find "A diabolical shade of suspicion behind every proclamation of truth" difficult to understand, but suspect that "proclamation of truth" refers to "fanaticism". Fanaticism and comedy cannot exist together-- he sees fanaticism as completely lacking in humour, and the comic as a powerful weapon to undermine it. Fanaticism in all its forms--especially religious fanaticism in the Name of the Rose, which finds a parallel in the political fanaticism of terrorist groups that were very active in Italy at the time he wrote the novel.

    Fanatics proclaim the "truth" as they see it, but a sense of the comic-- that very human quality that animals don't possess-- enables us to reject fanaticism wherever we find it.
     

    evergreenhomeland

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hello velisarius,

    Thanks for your detailed explanation.

    I have no idea about the meaning of "A diabolical shade of suspicion".
    Maybe only after reading the book <in the Name of Rose>, I can make sense of it.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, do read the book. I think Eco is having a little joke with the "diabolical shade". If you use a sense of humour, a sense of proportion, to demolish the arguments of a fanatic and question his certainties, you may seem (to a fanatic) to be using the arguments of the devil himself.
     
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