Jung & the Monty Python Flying Complex

Absurd. To create a comedy show, that would redefine the idiom  and defy imitation. The Monty Python Flying Circus television series actively offended against the limits of moral code  in terms of content and style of presentation. Most of the sketches were archetypically funny,  and taken as a whole it represented a unique artistic accomplishment. In the Jungian sense ” art is the cure for suffering”.The deep oppositions and conflicts produced a form of entertainment both light and dark simultaneously that established a psychic equilibrium where the viewers own panic, agony and torment could be forgotten. To take Freud, the barrage to the senses of the Python’s connected on some level to subconscious or repressed ideas or desires, but more likely just alternate inclination not sinister in nature.python-23

It was a show not defined by content per se, but by presentation in which the comedians were forced to seek a reason for their presence.As Jung said ,”The work in process becomes the poet’s fate and determines his psychic development.It is not Goethe who creates Faust, but Faust which creates Goethe,…”. Effectively the show was a satire on comedy itself. The surreal animation  accentuated the absurd, almost serving as snippets of a scientific method of dream interpretation. The Python’s discarded the established  rules of television comedy with unusual editing and collage all realized on low budget that gave the impression of improvisation and rough draft.

Charles Darwin said ” No case of a human being who did not laugh once in his lifetime has been published in the literature. By laughter we have thus defined our humanity”. The troupe did a sketch called the Funniest Joke; a humour so dangerous  that people that heard the joke would die laughing from the physical demands of responding to the hilarity. The idea  is that comedy could be fatal and induce mortality because at a deep level people who created the joke never wanted to be liked, maybe even hated and it would be a revenge on the world. The joke became a weapon of mass destruction.Its creators would have to work in teams on a modular basis or risk dying laughing from joke causing infection.python-200

Jung claimed the inevitability of creative energy resulting in a form of invincible ego-centrism. Morbidity, absence of empathy and other negatives were the currency of exchange. Comedic art like the Pythons, seemed to invert the dynamic by in sense being anti-creative by toying with the cliche andcommon in a subversive fashion. The sketch becomes always a work in process so the personal ego never has the luxury of admiring itself in the mirror .Or the aggressivity is so profound it acts as a nihilistic process against the ego. ”The creative force draining the human impulse to such a degree that the personal ego must develop all sorts of bad qualities in order to maintain the spark of life and keep itself from being wholly bereft…”

The creative process is probably not as homogenous as Jung would explain, or as radioactive or as capable of such spontaneous ego combustion.His theory goes against the view that a creative society is a less violent society.  Perhaps the inherent toxicity of creating art should only be undertaken as a collective venture to preserve the sanity of the participants. To bring this into Jungian terms,did the Monty python show explain the artists who created it or was it the insufficiencies and conflicts in the creators personal lives that explained the show?python-600

Monty Python certainly determined the artists future careers and marked or traumatised their destiny in a sense and could be viewed as a determining factor in their psychic development, but hopefully not decisive. its a judgement the artist will make on whether their work is more important than their personal fate. Again, is the artist an instrument of their work or vice-versa? One thing that can be almost certified as approaching the truth is the Jungian axiom that, ”A great work of art is like a dream; for all its apparent obviousness it does not explain itself and is never unequivocal.”


The tapping into the absurd and  the general dysfunctionality of society was a grey zone that the Python’s straddled in a therapeutic and almost scientific method. The seething anger under the veneer of the smiling affable chap, and the extreme passion about the trivial and the meaningless was a key element that animated the series. According to Carl Jung, this juxtaposition of polarities would be referred to in psychological terms as the incongruity theory of humour and the manipulation of the elements of attraction and repulsion suggests that we laugh when we see events as incongruous to release the energy.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>