Wednesday

Review: Proverbs

Proverbs were originally composed either by subsistence farmers – “don’t put your eggs in one basket”, “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” and so on – or Shakespeare. I was forced to go and watch Macbeth in a theatre the other weekend, and bits of it were quite good, even though it had actors in it, which is a shame. And it had a lot of proverbs that I thought were invented by subsistence farmers, but are actually by Shakespeare.

The Bible is another important source of proverbs, as when a bush burst into flames in the wilderness and advised Moses, “What you lose on the swings, you win on the roundabouts.”

Many people believe that a judiciously applied proverb can help them win an argument, but they are wrong. What can sometimes work is saying something outrageous, but pretending you read it elsewhere, eg "I believe it was Oscar Wilde who observed that all people who wear lipliner are cunts" or "As far as household pets go, cats are better than dogs, as God said".

Proverbs: They eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 6 out of 10.

10 Comments:

At 1:21 pm, Anonymous Philip said...

Ambrose Bierce has noted that old saws are so called because they make their way into wooden heads. He also provided a number of them with new teeth, e.g. "A penny saved is worth what it will bring", and "Half a loaf is better than a whole one if there is much else", and the immortal "Where there's a will there's a won't".

 
At 1:22 pm, Blogger Lord Bargain said...

but God did say that cats were better than dogs. Revelations 2:17.

ish.

 
At 4:24 pm, Anonymous This Space for Rent said...

Did Ambrose Bierce do the devils's dictionary? It's an excellent 19th century addition to any toilet library.

 
At 4:29 pm, Anonymous This Space for Rent said...

On another note, (C sharp) proverbs are the entire subject of Julian Baggini's column in the Guardian every Thursday. His in depth analysis shows that they are not always true.

Oh to be ruled by philosopher-kings...

 
At 9:11 pm, Blogger Philip said...

Ambrose Bierce did indeed "do" The Devil's Dictionary, which came out in 1906, some years after the nineteenth century. To persons of discernment, however, it ranks somewhat higher than Jokes for the John or the disposable but eminently smooth and absorbent writings of Julian Baggini.

 
At 12:17 am, Blogger HA HA HA said...

duno philap. i fnid it a bit scrachy myslef. aspesialy teh ones abot marage. u cant beat jane asteun for t.p. snooth as silk!

 
At 10:19 am, Anonymous eskimo said...

we'd run out of toilet paper the other day, so i used a page of the guardian guide - but gently, reverently.

 
At 5:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many cocks spoil the breath

 
At 12:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my new favourite website. I wish there was more as I have finished reading these Blogs and there are still 6hrs 40mins of work left.

"I believe it was Oscar Wilde who observed that all people who wear lipliner are cunts" - Delicious

I would e-mail the author personally, but have no idea how.

These entries are wonderfully hallucinogenic, but with just enough bile to suggest a more psychotic influence has been used at the time of writing. Maybe it is just your brain I like the shape of.

 
At 12:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proverbs have scored a little too high in my opinion because you seem to have missed that they are completely pointless! For each one, ther is an opposie. "Many hands make light work" but "Too many cooks spoil the broth". "Poison comes in small bottles" but "Diamonds dont come the size of bricks". Its all bollocks.

 

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