Joke

 

I never threw all the toys from my crib for the fun of having them returned to me. And when my father would play with me by hiding bright little toys behind his back, the squeals of delight I emitted as he magically produced them were not because I was fooled but because the expression on his face as he thrust the toys in my direction gave me joy. Unlike most infants, I was never an uncoordinated collection of natural capacities. I never had any problem distinguishing between myself and others. I knew where I stopped and other people began.  I was unwavering in the belief that the mouth was mine and the breast belonged to someone else. Consequently toilet training was unnecessary and I have never entertained a single sado-masochistic fantasy. I have never experienced the slightest glimmerings of a split between my sense of self and my experience of my body.

There is no void.  The world is full.

When my father died I was sad for awhile, but I thought that that would be that. I was already an adult and had no reasonable expectation of needing his presence in the future. One afternoon I was sitting in a shopping mall and I overheard someone telling a joke. It was a joke I remember my father telling and I associated it with him. I could not understand how someone could possess a piece of my father and unknowingly carry it around. I was jealous of this boy who owned a piece of my father while I was left with nothing. Then I realized that the joke is a mechanism whereby language wraps itself around a particular individual creating and defining this person. A highly condensed nodal point where webs of discourse meet to construct a subject. And so when I present this joke to you, I am not presenting a memory or impression of my father, I am, rather, literally presenting you with my actual father.

 

A man gets a new job and every day when he walks to work he sees, through the window of a house, a woman hitting a little boy with a loaf of bread. This continues for many months. One day he sees the woman hitting the boy with a chocolate cake. He goes up to the window, he can't resist. "Everyday I see you hitting this little boy with a loaf of bread, why are you using a chocolate cake this time." "Well," the woman replied "today's his birthday."

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