Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Humility. Humor. Hunting. Hypocrisy.

The sentence in boldface is a plain statement of the quote that follows.

We are nothing in other social circles.
Humility 42 …another lesson, in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle…. Austen, Persuasion.

Humility is rare; even philosophers who write on the subject make sure that their names are on the title page.
Humility 181 Spinoza: …humility is very rare; and as Cicero said, even the philosophers who write books in its praise take care to put their names on the title-page. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

Modesty is hypocritical humility, seeking pardon for excellence and recognition of merit from people who have none.
Humility 310 Schopenhauer : What is modesty but hypocritical humility, by means of which, in a world swelling with envy, a man seeks to obtain pardon for excellences and merits from those who have none. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Schopenhauer.

If the supposed saint has no humility, she is no saint.
Humility 1069 [St. Philip Neri who tested the supposedly inspired and prophetic nun by asking her to remove his mud-spattered boots, which she refused to do, with anger]: “Give yourself no uneasiness, Holy Father…here is no miracle, for here is no humility.” Emerson, The Conduct of Life: Worship.

Jewish jokes reveal the philosophy and survival patterns of the people.
Humor 448 …Jewish jokes which, through ethnic humor, imparted the philosophy and the survival pattern of the people. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

The hilarious is usually explained by “timing.”
Humor 246 He had whatever it takes to make that hilarious, generally explained by talk about ‘timing.’ Finney, From Time to Time

JFK joked that he had a great responsibility: he was the only one between Nixon and the White House.
Humor 203 JFK: “Do you realize...the responsibility I carry...I am the only person between Nixon and the White House.” Sorenson, Kennedy

JFK cited a Republican who mistakenly called Rochester Syracuse as proof that the Republicans did not know where they were or where they were going.
Humor 207 In Rochester he [Kennedy] quoted an earlier Republican candidate as having referred to it as Syracuse--proof, he said, that Republicans never did know where they were or where they were going. Sorenson, Kennedy

JFK thought that Nixon’s referring to him as “another Truman” a compliment, which he returned by saying that Mr. Nixon is another Dewey.
Humor 209 JFK: “Last Thursday night Mr. Nixon dismissed me as ‘another Truman’...a great compliment and I have no hesitation in returning the compliment: I consider him another Dewey.” Sorenson, Kennedy

Noting that Nixon had called him an ignoramus, a liar and a pied piper, JFK called Nixon simply a Republican, which JFK said Nixon thought was really low.
Humor 234 JFK: “in the last seven days..., he [Nixon] has called me an ignoramus, a liar, a pied piper...I just confine myself to calling him a Republican...and he says that is really getting low.” Sorenson, Kennedy

Khrushchev said both candidates [JFK and Nixon] were like a pair of boots: the only difference between them was left or right footed.
Humor 609 The Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev had dismissed both candidates [Nixon and Kennedy] as “a pair of boots—which is better, the right or the left boot?” Sorenson, Kennedy

A clogged stateroom on a ship: you can’t swing a cat.
Humor 25 Notwithstanding all this furniture, there was still room to turn around in, but not to swing a cat in, at least with entire security to the cat. Twain, Innocents Abroad.

He had learned to tell a horse from a cow.
Humor 658 I had quickly learned to tell a horse from a cow, and was full of anxiety to learn more. Twain, Roughing It

Don’t kill me with the carving knife that was used to cut herrings; I’d rather be shot, please.
Humor 87 Nelly: “But I don’t like the carving-knife [by which to be killed], Mr. Hindley,” I answered: “It has been cutting red herrings; I’d rather be shot, if you please.” E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

Making the truth seem crazy is what the humorist is trying to do.
Humor 159 This heightening of some crazy truth—to a level where it will be seen as crazy—is at the heart of what the serious humorist is trying to do. Zinsser, On Writing Well.

The comic strip “Blondie” has run so long because it’s based on what everyone does: sleep, eat, raise a family and make money.
Humor 164 Chic Young, creator of “Blondie” on its longevity: It’s built on four things that everybody does: sleeping, eating, raising a family and making money. Zinsser, On Writing Well.

The humorist acts the victim or dunce, making the reader feel superior or at least making him identify with a fellow victim.
Humor 175 Re-reading Leacock reminded me that still another function of the humorist is to represent himself as the victim or the dunce, helpless in most situations…enables the reader to feel superior, or at least to identify with the fellow victim. Zinsser, On Writing Well.

For Freud, jokes and dreams were alike in that they had open meanings and a hidden purpose.
Humor 569 For Sigmund, jokes had certain elements in common with dreams: each had a manifest or open meaning, and behind that, a latent or buried purpose. Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind (Life of Freud).

People want to learn how to laugh in the face of the inevitable.
Humor xxv We want to learn to laugh in the face of the inevitable…. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

Don’t sell half the horses in the stable, sell half the asses that populate the royal court.
Humor 204 When the Regent, for economy, sold half the horses that filled the royal stables, [Voltaire] remarks how much more sensible it would have been to dismiss half the asses that filled the royal court. . Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Voltaire.

Solemnity is a disease.
Humor 210 Voltaire: “I look upon solemnity as a disease.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Voltaire.

If a man can laugh at himself, he is not really miserable.
Humor 11 A man who can laugh, if only at himself, is never really miserable. Mencken, Minority Report.

Defines a sense of humor: surprising relations, hollowness of common assumptions, and turns of speech.
Humor 264 …sense of humor, which is to say, a capacity to discover hidden and surprising relations between apparently disparate things, to penetrate to the hollowness of common assumptions, and to invent novel and arresting turns of speech. Mencken, Minority Report.

On news of the death of Calvin Coolidge, Dorothy Parker asked, “How do they know?”
Humor 72 Malcolm Cowley: A friend remembers sitting next to [Dorothy Parker] at the theater when the news was announced of the death of the stolid Calvin Coolidge: “How to they know?” whispered Mrs. Parker. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

If the office had been any smaller, it would have been adultery.
Humor 74 Dorothy Parker: He and I had an office so tiny that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

All sentences that begin with the letter W are funny.
Humor 95 Thurber quoting Benchley: “We must understand,” he’d say, “that all sentences that begin with W are funny..” Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

Theatrical comedy exposes folly and curbs excesses.
Humor 109 Thornton Wilder: The comic tradition in the theater carries the intention of exposing folly and curbing excess. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

Establish a character as funny and everything he does is funny.
Humor 59 …once a character is really established as funny everything he does becomes funny. F. Scott Fitzgerald on Writing.

Johnson used difficult words in his essays so that people would have to use his dictionary.
Humor 122 Burney: Others there were…who said that the hard words in The Rambler were used by the author [Dr. Johnson] to render his dictionary indispensably necessary. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

The person who plays a simpleton must never be one.
Humor 550 The most cunning part in a comedy is the clown’s, for a man who wants to be taken for a simpleton must never be one. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Part Two: 1615.

Funny situation: man searches for the ass he is sitting on.
Humor 934 “One word only I beseech you to hear, valiant Don Quixote,” said Altisidora, “and it is this: I beg your pardon for saying you had stolen my garters, for by God and my soul I have them on, and I have fallen into the same blunder as the man who went searching for the ass he was riding on.” Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Part Two: 1615.

English humor treats the commonplace as remarkable; American humor treats the remarkable as commonplace.
Humor 99 James Thurber: Someone once wrote a definition of the difference between English and American humor: He said that the English treat the commonplace as if it were remarkable and the Americans treat the remarkable as if it were commonplace. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Humor: emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.
Humor 219 James Thurber: Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Wit has some truth; wisecracking is just exercising words.
Humor 222 Dorothy Parker: Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook

Humor defies definition.
Humor 4 One of the characteristics of humor is that it eludes definition. Feleki. A Random Walk in Science.

Humor relieves tension.
Humor 4 The greatest blessing of humor is that it relaxes tension. Feleki. A Random Walk in Science.

Laughter makes us feel superior to the thing we are laughing at.
Humor 5 Hobbes pointed out that laughter is the feeling of pride as, seeing the weakness of others, we experience our own intellectual superiority. Feleki. A Random Walk in Science.

The essence of humor is incongruity.
Humor 8 The crux of the simplest form of joke seems to be the production of an incongruity in the normal order of events. R V Jones. A Random Walk in Science.

Most good jokes involve preparation before the incongruity becomes apparent.
Humor 9 …the more advanced jokes usually involve a period of preparation…sometimes elaborate, before the incongruity becomes apparent. R V Jones A Random Walk in Science.

America’s success is raising food to sell to Europeans who must eat.
Humor 54 The commerce by which she [America] hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe. Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776. Hofstadter, ed. Great Issues in American History. Vol. 1. Independence.

Laughter results from feeling superior to what we are laughing at.
Humor 142 The passion of laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly…. Addison, 4/24/1711. The Spectator.

If you can’t be dirty, you can’t be funny.
Humor 111 Mae West: “You can’t be funny if you have to be clean.” Pierpont, Claudia Roth. “A Critic at Large: The Strong Woman.” The New Yorker (Nov. 11, 1996), pp. 106-118.

Exaggeration as the basis of humor.
Humor exaggeration 643 …a Washoe wind…blows flimsy houses down, lifts shingle roofs occasionally, rolls up tin ones like sheet music, now and then blows a stage coach over and spills the passengers; and tradition says the reason there are so many bald people there, is, that the wind blows the hair off their heads while they are looking skyward after their hats. Twain, Roughing It

Example of a pun—takes a moment to get it too [“lye” and “liars”].
Humor pun 724 A white man cannot drink the water of Mono Lake, for it is nearly pure lye…said that the Indians in the vicinity drink it sometimes…not improbable, for they are among the purest liars I ever saw. Twain, Roughing It

Hunting: the power to kill a living thing because you can.
Hunting 108 One day I picked up a dead quail that I had shot; when the bird had lined up in my sights, I felt the familiar rush of power and excitement, a kind of blood lust that linked me to the small creature suspended there at the end of my shot gun…now the bird hung limp in my hand, its fires quenched, the iridescent earth colors of browns and tans stained red because of what I had done…was disgusted with myself, with my violence, my lust, with the power I held so casually to destroy something so beautiful…something not required to sustain my own survival. Browning, Notes from Turtle Creek.

I am idolized in the pulpit, but I look inward and see how black from sin I am.
Hypocrisy 283 Dimmesdale: Canst thou deem it, Hester, a consolation, that I must stand up in my pulpit, and meet so many eyes turned upward to my face, as if the light of heaven were beaming from it!--must see my flock hungry for the truth, and listening to my words as if a tongue of Pentecost were speaking!--and then look inward, and discern the black reality of what they idolize? Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

The difference between religion and cant, piety and pretence, the truth of scripture and application of its words, not its spirit.
Hypocrisy xii Lest there should be any well-intentioned persons who do not perceive the difference…between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and meanest affairs of life…. Preface Dickens, Pickwick.

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