Why the Dalai Lama couldn't understand the 'pizza joke'

ed's comment on youtube:

Good joke! Puns are quite lost on the oriental variety, i.e. Tibetan, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. They tend to appreciate things on a 'face value' basis. Looking at things another way besides the obvious is pretty unthinkable. It's an effect of the political oppression they suffer that stipulates that there is only one governmental-way of looking at things.

But then again, the joke in the above vid is quite a simple, but good, one. You'll have to test yourself on the British variety which tends to require one to access other information in one's memory from unrelated events or experiences - frequently, more than one 'outside' information. So your general knowledge, along with your ability to access other unrelated information is required to understand it.

The above joke requires one to rely on the information given in the joke itself, and the only 'outside' info required is the Buddhist attempt to become 'one with everything'. You'll then have to appreciate the dual meaning of 'one' (pizza) with everything and the Buddhist becoming 'one with everything (all creation). That is the only outside information. So this makes it a more lower level pun.


I'd say that a person's ability to appreciate puns can be quite indicative of the degree to which one would be open to new ideas, engages with them via questions and thoughts, open to new cultures, less self-centred, less racist, less xenophobic, be a better friend, good at making analogical references, more philosophically inclined, more critical, politically vibrant, amongst a host of others. Sometimes, training yourself in the art of punning can increase your tendency toward the rest of the above attributes. That's the simpler route. You could call it a 'preschool' path to greater thought.

I wouldn't say that the ability to appreciate puns makes one all of those things, but it would indicate a greater potential to be the above than those who can't as they would be more open to reason - another way of looking at things, which is the similar to pun-appreciation - than those who can't. Those whom are deficient linguistically are of course exempt. In that, the Dalai Lama's not being able to understand the joke cannot, with certainty, be put down to perspectival deficiency - and Buddhism is quite the open-minded religion as well...not very surprising given its Indian origins. But one can also still study the degree to which puns, metaphors, analogies, are used in conversation in their own language. Amongst others, the Indians, British, Arabs, Africans tend to excel in these.

Everyone, regardless of race, are initially open to new ideas, but culture also steps in to either reinforce it or circumscribe it. And where a culture is borne of politically oppressive conditions, it will tend to replicate the mindset required to accept it as the norm.

I'd say that governmental oppression is the first cause, and then, the culture that is formed - what I term as a 'culture of compensation' - will tend to reinforce it. Unquestioning traditionalism - i.e. Confucian-Legalist states - tends to dull the mind to the point that one is appealed to by nothing other than the obvious, sensational, popular, powerful, and prominent.


[As Sherlock Holmes stated,

"From a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other."

I've always been intrigued by the kind of factors that one could use to infer a whole host of others probabilities. It's saves time in a sense that we do not really need to know something completely to know it completely. That is, if we can identify the most essential factors, or the root itself, than we can know the fruit without having to look up (at the rest of the tree).

Of course, prior to being able to avail oneself of this strategy, one needs to pay attention to all the details of any phenomena in order to know which core variables are generally associated with other variables. Than, we will be able to look at particular core variables and infer other probabilities given our prior appreciation of the association between variables.]



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