Acrobats (detail), Japanese handscroll, nineteenth century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Henry J. Bernheim, 1945.


Volume XII, Number 3 | summer 2019


“One enterprising seventeenth-century systematizer,” noted classicist Mary Beard in a discussion of the different ways the sounds of laughter have been recorded throughout history, “attempted to classify the variants in these sounds and relate them to the different temperaments, hi hi hi indicating melancholics, he he he cholerics, ha ha ha phlegmatics, and ho ho ho hotheads.”

Where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment.

—George Santayana, c. 1905