The springs of Springfield: Dr. Hibbert

Dr. Julius Hibbert, MD

Dr. Hibbert is arguably the most competent doctor in Springfield, and with good cause. His (mostly) friendly demeanour and bedside manner make him the go-to MD in Springfield, for a price. His Cosby-like sweaters don’t hurt either.

This MENSA member and MD has the personality “quirk” of chuckling at the most inappropriate moments. For example, in season 12’s “Worst Episode Ever,” Dr. Hibbert tells comic book guy after a cardiac episode that “If these boys hadn’t called 911, I’d be wearing that watch right now,” then chuckles. He laughs compulsively at nearly everything. But perhaps this isn’t a quirk at all, and the moments he chooses are not so inappropriate since there may be no such thing as “inappropriate” at all.

When trying to cure Lisa of anxiety-related stomach pains, Hibbert says “Before I learned to chuckle mindlessly, I was headed to an early grave.”

This could be because Dr. Hibbert has adopted the absurdist position. Absurdism maintains not that there is no meaning in the universe, but that whatever meaning there is in the universe, if any, is humanly unknowable. In other words, the search for the meaning of life is a Sisyphean struggle — a futile, empty gesture, hence the laughing.

Senseless laughter is the only response to genuine, nihilistic absurdity. It is the final acceptance that there is no meaning beyond the pointless lives of the denizens of Springfield. He admits that his laughing is “mindless,” which means he recognizes its lack of meaning.

According to writer Albert Camus, the way to attain true freedom is to recognize the absurd human condition for what it is and accept it. For Camus, there is no extrinsic meaning in the world, but rather the opportunity for meaning in life is human-constructed.

What better way to do this than to laugh? At every situation, at every opportunity, just laugh.