When the Shinto goddess Amaterasu leaves the cave in which she has hidden in order to escape her brother Susano’s tempestuous behavior, she does so because she has been enticed by Uzume’s dancing,1 her curiosity having being aroused by the other gods’ laughing at the dance. This is an archetypical example of laughter as “divine mirth,” a mirth that is also readily expressed by Uzume’s merry dance. It is worth noting that some versions of the myth define Uzume’s dance as obscene, which is highly symbolic of the transgressive dimension of the demiurgic process that prompts the actualization of ontological possibilities. This element is also in consonance with the obscene, popular mask of wisdom that expresses the highest metaphysical and cosmological truths in the garb of trivial or socially repulsive phenomena. The function of this transgressive dimension is connected with a transcending of limits that suggests the unity of all that is, whether it be morally commendable or not. This episode expresses both a cosmogonic event, since Amaterasu has in a sense produced the world through being lured by dance, and a spiritual archetype, given that the gods’ laughter is a particularly direct manifestation of inner relief.


Spiritual Awakening Ordinary Consciousness Superiority Theory Incongruity Theory Ontological Possibility 
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© Patrick Laude 2005

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  • Patrick Laude

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