20 September 2007

On the Consideration of the Insult as an Art Form

It is well known that Christians are not supposed to insult one another, or any one else, and I do not propose we begin to do so. Far from it. And it is also known that insults are generally wrong and not to be done, and I concur. Yet people insult others daily, and we live in a world awash with insults and invective and vituperations. We cannot escape. What harm, then, in enjoying it? We may regret that the thing is done, but once done, can we not say, 'twas well done? To insult, call a name or heap expletives on someone's head is no great thing, and I deplore the lack of style as much as I do the insult itself. But when done well, with taste and discretion, why then, though reprehensible in itself, yet it is also a thing of wonder and pleasure.

I humbly submit, for your joint pleasure and condemnation, a few insults from some of the better times of the English language, a time when cleverness and wit were still valued, before we were awash in four letter words; where words are spoke before a thought is formed; and pathetic name calling is considered the heighth of wit.*

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor: Lady Astor: "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
Churchill: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about." - Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?" Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know." - Abraham Lincoln

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." -Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others." -Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure." Jack E. Leonard

"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt." - Robert Redford

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge." - Thomas Brackett Reed

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." -Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

"Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand. "-Mark Twain

* a tip of the sword to anyone who knows from whom I've adapted my title and first paragraph. Also a wag of the finger: Good Christians shouldn't read such things.

Feel free to add any other insults you may know in the combox. Just don't direct them at me.

Also, if you like Shakespearean insults, you should memorize this word: bdelygmia.

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