I’ve made it through my first week of classes and I’ve already had to read 100 pages of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. As much as I love reading, I am not going to pretend that this was an entirely enjoyable experiences. But despite the purposefully convoluted language and grim conception of humanity, I did find one (tiny) part of the text that really stood out to me as truly beautiful. Hobbes described laughter, or at least the passion behind laughter, as “sudden glory.” Of course he went on to say more about precisely what would cause nasty and brutish people to feel glory, but I still like the image. Glory. A somehow sacred splendor, suddenly bubbling to the surface of one’s very soul. (Okay, that’s not how Hobbes would describe it. Souls don’t exist for him. But still.)
Laughter is sudden glory. It exists at the threshold between calm enjoyment and true bliss, and it erupts unexpectedly when we are able to experience concentrated happiness in a visceral way. It is one of the most glorious parts of any day.
I don’t think this is precisely what Hobbes would have hoped that I’d take away from Leviathan, but if it’s not then perhaps he shouldn’t have created such a beautiful image to distract me from the rest of his message.
It’s been a glorious day.