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The Short Form

Martin Amis on the Fear of Being Laughed At

Martin Amis on the fear of being laughed at, in an interview with Flavorwire:

What people fear above all else is being laughed at. And there comes a moment, slightly different, in Shakespearean tragedy, where in Coriolanus, for instance, they say ‘get your staring done with, get your laughing done with.’ They say this to the mob. As Nabokov again says, you don’t punish the gangster in a short story by having some conspirator tip-toeing up behind him with a derringer. That is a 19th-century idea of punishment. What you do is watch him picking his ear and then picking his nose and then examining the contents of his fingernail. Laughter is our deepest fear.