For women who know,the laugh breaks up the 'truth'1 and its grammar. Laughter breaks. A smile, like a crack that gives way to this outburst. As Smith explains,

According to Bataille, laughter is both composition and decomposition; "it most often decomposes without consequence, and sometimes with a virulence that is so pernicious that it even puts in question composition itself, and the wholes across which it functions."3 The laugh is dissembling. After decomposition, there is recomposition. Composure. After the laugh, I have to recompose myself, pull myself together: "provoked by an excess of excitement, composure becomes a way of accommodating such experience, a belated refusal; it becomes in fact, a superstition of confidence in the integrity of the self."4 This is a kind of mastery, a domination of the body, of its pleasure and excitement. As if nothing has happened. As if everything is the same. As if my vision was not split or blurred by this momentary dissolution. Composure is like a denial, a disguise, a ruse, but really ...

... "those most furtively absorbing and exciting ideas, masturbation fantasies, can be seen as stories or scenarios in which, through careful disguise, one makes it safe to have an excited body; or rather the spectacle of an excited body."5 Even then, as Gonzalez-Crussi says this is perhaps the most serious of errors: to "think the ludicrous instead of laughing at it."6

We speak of laughter. I am trying to place it, to locate it. It erupts mid-stream, mid-sentence, punctuating. Does it matter that there was no one there to hear that laugh bubble from her beautiful mouth? There is no one here to see her surrender to that pleasure, that spillage, that excess. If I tell you that I am laughing or she is laughing, it is because you are not aware of this intensity, because you cannot know. It is luxurious and abundant, not contained or containable within the dialogue, within the text: a break, a movement. It is a desire which fills my convulsing body, a type of knowledge and overflows as tears and sounds. This is where composure becomes a game of hide and seek: "composure can be seen as a deferral, a kind of self-holding that keeps open the possibility of finding an environment in which the composure itself could be relinquished."7 If there is no space for laughter in the dialogue, it will fill some other vacancy, revealing a certain insufficiency in that which excludes it.

1. Helene Cixous, 'The Laugh of the Medusa' in Susan Sellers (ed), The Cixous Reader, Routledge, London, 1996, p 258
2. Sidonie Smith, Subjectivity, Identity and the Body: Women's Autobiographical Practices in the Twentieth Century, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1993, p 167
3. George Bataille, 'The Labyrinth' in Allan Stoekl (ed), Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927 - 1939, (Trans. Allan Stoekl with Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M Leslie Jr), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1994 (fp 1985), p 177
4. Adam Phillips, 'On Composure' in Adam Phillips, On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Faber and Faber, London, 1993, p 41
5. ibid.
6. F. Gonzalez-Crussi, 'The Body and The Emotions' in F. Gonzalez-Crussi, Three Forms of Sudden Death, Picador, London, 1987 (fp 1986), p 147
7. Phillips, op.cit., p 42