1.1   Positive psychology

Humour and the virtues of negative thinking

Michael Billig

In his essay on Karl Kraus, Walter Benjamin compared genuine satirists with the “scribblers who make a trade of mockery and in their invectives have little more in mind than giving the public something to laugh about”. Satirists like Kraus, wrote Benjamin, have “firmer ground under their feet” than those who merely seek to elicit laughter. Never was this truer, continued Benjamin, than in a world in which humanity “has run out of tears but not of laughter”.1 The world today is very different from the Germany of 1931, when Benjamin’s essay was first published. We live in a pragmatic age. There are experts to advise us on the positive psychological benefits ...

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