“It is sad to be ready and not be called. But it is tragic to be called and not be ready.” — Livingston Taylor

This is Taylor’s aphorism for aspiring musicians. His message is actually very simple: always have a one-minute piece prepared so you can be ready to play anytime you’re asked.

Yet what a clear illustration of the subject’s commitment to the Symbolic! Psychoanalysis, forward ho!

One wants recognition from the Master-Signifier. It is sad to work for this in vain, to be ready and yet ignored. But it is tragic, in the original sense of the word — exemplified in the character of Antigone — to be called, recognized by the Master-Signifier as part and parcel of the Symbolic, and yet to be unable to heed that call, unable to participate. Antigone’s role was one that everybody in the community could relate to; her tragedy was archetypal.

Comedy is something different. It is the opposite of archetype; it is incongruity. This is because the comic character is anomalous; he knows no role, follows no cultural script. Comedy results when the subject is in neither a sad nor a tragic position. He is oblivious to any sort of “call” and thus also to the work to be done to prepare to heed said call. The comic subject doesn’t recognize the Symbolic, doesn’t identify with his relation to the Master-Signifier. The comic character is ignorant. He is without guilt, without attachment — without commitment.