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,
the sound itself breaks through the language of phallocentrism, a call from beyond, from the body, from elsewhere. Ultimately, laughter breaks up the consolidations of a universalised, rational, unifying truth, destabilising foundational notions of truth by traducing the boundaries of binary opposites: control and abandon, reason and the irrational, body and mind.2
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 ...
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.