Thursday, January 31, 2008

Streaming down their cheeks

16.5 x 24 cm
A page from a book on Dresden that I found on the street, found black and white photos, graphite, felt

Consider the bizarre events of the 1962 outbreak of contagious laughter in Tanganyika. What began as an isolated fit of laughter (and sometimes crying) in a group of 12- to 18-year-old schoolgirls rapidly rose to epidemic proportions. Contagious laughter propagated from one individual to the next, eventually infecting adjacent communities. The epidemic was so severe that it required the closing of schools. It lasted for six months.
- Robert R. Provine, "Laughter", American Scientist 84. 1 (Jan-Feb, 1996): 38-47.

I was in the S-Bahn with F. while she was visiting and we were on the way to an opening. We were talking about this and that when we both spotted someone. Trying to be discreet - we both noticed that this person happened to have a big booger in their nose. I don't really know why things like that make one laugh but like school girls, we started laughing. The laughing did not stop. Because F.'s laughter is so infectious I continued to laugh harder. Of course as a result so did she. The tears started streaming down our cheeks. All of the commuters looked at us with blank stares - which of course caused us to laugh more. We got out of the train stumbling over ourselves laughing and behind us were two women who started laughing with us because we couldn't stop laughing. The absurdity didn't end as later we saw that person at the opening.

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