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专八阅读素材:A Sense of Humor

2012-12-17 10:20

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Biologically, there is only one quality which distinguishes us from animals: the ability to laugh. In a universe which appears to be utterly devoid of humor, we enjoy this supreme luxury. And it is a luxury, for unlike any other bodily process, laughter does not seem to serve a biologically useful purpose. In a divide world, laughter is a unifying force. Human beings oppose each other on a great many issues. Nations may disagree about systems of government and human relations may be plagued by ideological factions and political camps, but we all share the ability to laugh. And laughter, in turn, depends on that most complex and subtle of all human qualities: a sense of humor Certain comic stereotypes have a universal appeal. This can best be seen from the world-wide popularity of Charlie Chaplin’s early films. The little man at odds with society never fails to amuse no matter which country we come from. As that great commentator on human affairs, Dr. Samuel Johnson, once remarked, ‘Men have been wise in very different modes; but they have always laughed in the same way.’

A sense of humor may take various forms and laughter may be anything from a refined tingle to an earth quaking roar, but the effect is always the same. Humor helps us to maintain a correct sense of values. It is the one quality which political fanatics appear to lack. If we can see the funny side, we never make the mistake of taking ourselves too seriously. We are always reminded that tragedy is not really far removed from comedy, so we never get a lop sided view of things.

This is one of the chief functions of satire and irony. Human pain and suffering are so grim; we hover so often on the brink of war; political realities are usually enough to plunge us into total despair. In such circumstances, cartoons and satirical accounts of somber political events redress the balance. They take the wind out of pompous and arrogant politicians who have lost their sense of proportion. They enable us to see that many of our most profound actions are merely comic or absurd. We laugh when a great satirist like Swift writes about war in Gulliver’s Travels. The Lilliputians and their neighbors attack each other because they can’t agree which end to break an egg. We laugh because we meant to laugh; but we are meant to weep too. It is too powerful a weapon to be allowed to flourish.

The sense of humor must be singled out as man’s most important quality because it is associated with laughter. And laughter, in turn, is associated with happiness. Courage, determination, initiative – these are qualities we share with other forms of life. But the sense of humor is uniquely human. If happiness is one of the great goals of life, then it is the sense of humor that provides the key.

1. The most important of all human qualities is

[A] a sense of humor.

[B] A sense of satire.

[C] A sense of laughter.

[D] A sense of history.

2. The author mentions about Charlie Chaplin’s early films because

[A] they can amuse people.

[B] Human beings are different from animals.

[C] They show that certain comic stereotypes have a universal appeal.

[D] They show that people have the same ability to laugh.

3. One of the chief functions of irony and satire is

[A] to show absurdity of actions.

[B] to redress balance.

[C] to take the wind out of politicians.

[D] to show too much grimness in the world.

4. What do we learn from the sentence ‘it is too powerful a weapon to be allowed to flourish in totalitarian regimes?’

[A] It can reveal the truth of political events with satire.

[B] It can arouse people to riot.

[C] It shows tragedy and comedy are related.

[D] It can make people laugh.

5. Who is Swift?

[A] A novelist.

[B] A poet.

[C] A dramatist.

[D] A essayist.

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