A laugh for the way my life has gone
A laugh for the love of a friend
A laugh for the fools in the eyes of the world
The love that will never end
Ha Ha Ha… 
  Bruce Cockburn, 1976

Last night I finished The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It’s quite a tour of a medieval monastery, the great swirling debates of the time, as well as the political machinations of popes and princes. There is a great deal of Latin, 90% of which I miss. And the monologues tend to be excessive.

But the curious thing about the story is that the plot and the murders in the Abbey revolve around a particular book, and the theological issue of laughter. It turns out that laughter was an issue of debate at the time, with such luminaries as William of Occam and Roger Bacon weighing in. The deeper issue was the relationship of the humanity and divinity of Christ, and the working out of the Imago.

Striking to me this morning, however, is that twice in his career to date Bruce Cockburn has used the image of laughter. As above, in 1976, and then in 1992 in this piece:

It’s not the laughter of rain in the drain
It’s not the laughter of a man in pain
It’s not the laughter you can hide behind
It’s not the laughter of a frightened mind
Balanced on the brink only waiting for a shove
You better listen for the laugh of love.

It’s not the laughter of the gloating rich
It’s not the laughter of the sacred bitch
It’s not the laughter of the macho fool
It’s not the laughter that obeys the rules
More of a chain saw in a velvet glove
You better listen for the laugh of love…

It’s not the laughter of a child with toys
It’s not the laughter of the president’s boys
It’s not the laughter of the media king
This laughter doesn’t sell you anything
It’s the wind in the wings of a diving dove
You better listen for the laugh of love.
Whatever else you might be thinking of
You better listen for the laugh of love.

“Listen for the Laugh,” Bruce Cockburn