A. SOME FAVOURITE SAYINGS
- "Leadership, besides being a great force, can be diabolical" (Jan Smutts)
- "There is a danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches delusion from a woman" (Hafic, Old Persian Saying)
- "Psychoanalysis is the disease it pretends to cure" (George Mikes)
- "Constant repetition does not create truth" (John J. Robinson)
- "Oratory is the cunning of the tongue over the ear, but eloquence is the joining of the heart with the soul" (Kahlil Gibran)
- "Clearsightedness need not be a spur to action" (David Pryce-Jones)
- "Music helps not the toothache" (George Herbert)
- "Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run" (Mark Twain)
- "History repeats itself; historians repeat each other" (Philip Guedalla)
- "Literature is the orchestration of platitudes" (Thornton Wilder)
- "Poets are almost always bald when they get to be about forty" (John Masefield)
- "A critic is a legless man who teaches running" (Channing Polluck)
- "Meek young men grow up in libraries" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- "Many thanks; I shall lose no time in reading it" (Benjamin Disraeli)
- "The appetite for applause grows tyrranical with indulgence" (Anon)
- "It is nearly impossible for a woman to remain pure who adopts the stage as a profession" (Clement Scott)
- "On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting. 'Twas only that when he was off he was acting" (Oliver Goldsmith)
- "All the arts in America are a gigantic racket run by unscrupulous men for unhealthy women" (Sir Thomas Beecham)
- "Abstain from beans" (Pythagoras)
- (Speaking of gluttons) "They have digged their grave with their teeth" (Thomas Adams)
- "Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it's compounding the felony" (Robert Benchley)
- "Every great man nowadays has his disciples but it is always Judas who writes the biography" (Anon)
- "There is a natural tendency of people not to see a problem until it appears to them in the form of a knife on their throats" (Rabbi Meir Kahane)
- "The floor was so cunningly laid that no matter where you stood it was always under your feet" (Spike Milligan)
I believe humour to be one of the greatest therapies there is for the human soul and can provide a psychological release where outward circumstances would otherwise deny it. Furthermore, a person who can laugh at himself sees himself (more or less) as others see him. He can smile at his own misfortune, folly and weakness. He may even be able to accept the idea that in disagreement the other person, too, may have a point.
Most Westerners have no idea what it was like living under communism in Eastern Europe. This sample of humour from that period gives you some idea how people felt about it:
- Three Soviet labour-camp inmates sat chatting one evening:
"What are you in for?" asked the first.
"Me, I spoke badly about Comrade Popov in 1939."
"I spoke well of Comrade Popov in 1940. And what about you?" he asked turning to the third man.
"I am Comrade Popov."
- "What was the nationality of Adam and Eve?" people used to ask in the Soviet Union.
The answer: "They were Russians. They went around naked, when they were hungry they had to steal apples, yet they were convinced they were living in Paradise."
- "What is the difference between Capitalism and Communism?"
"Capitalism the the exploitation of man by man. Communism is the other way round."
- The Stalin years were times of horrible oppression. It became known in Budapest that a mysterious three-fold coffin had been found at the bottom of the Danube. It had long been thought that Attila the Hun - a revered hero in Hungary - had been buried there and it had always been hoped that one day his coffin might be found.
"The man in the coffin," a member of the Secret Police reported, "is definitely Attila."
"How do you know?"
- "Russian agriculture is so developed," said a Russian, "that we now have four harvests a year."
"Aren't you exaggerating a bit?"
"No. One in the Soviet Union, one in Hungary, one in Poland, one in East Germany."
The Jews of Europe have a great self-effacing sense of humour and this has been in inherited somewhat by modern Israeli Jews:
- I middle aged Israeli Jew in his 50's goes to the Colonel on the first day of the Six Day War and volunteers his services. He is told that he is too old but he goes on pestering the Colonel who in the end tells him: "Very well. Take these 5,000 leaflets, go up to the Arab lines just in front of us, get rid of them and come back."
The man returns 6 hours later and asks for another job. The Colonel shakes his head: "I've told you you are no good. What the hell were you doing for 6 hours?"
The man gets a little indignant! "What was I doing, Colonel? Do you think it's all that easy to sell 5,000 Jewish leaflets to those Arabs?"
The following are old-style Polish-Jewish jokes which have survived in the Republic of Israel:
- An Israeli couple are touring Europe with their 11 year old son. In Italy the boy asks his parents: "Are these people Jews?"
"No my boy," his father tells him, "they are Christians."
In Germany he asks again: "Are these people Jews?"
He is told in Germany, in Holland, and in Sweden: "No, these people are not Jews, they are Christians."
Finally he exclaims with genuine sympathy: "Poor Christians! ... It must be awful for them to be scattered like that all over the world."
- A Jew in a small Polish village goes to the rabbi and tells him: "Rabbi, I'm worried. The Talmud says that whenever you drop a piece of bread and butter, it always falls on the buttered side. Today I've dropped a piece of bread and it fell on the non-buttered side."
"Well," says the rabbi, "this was an exception."
"No, no, rabbi. There should be no exceptions ... The Talmud says always."
The rabbi scratches his head and tells the man to come back the next day, he will look it up. The man comes back and the rabbi tells him: "Yes, the Talmud does say that the bread and butter always falls on the buttered side. And, of course, it always does. All that's happened was that you, stupid man, buttered the wrong side of the bread."
This page was created on 19.04.2002
Last updated on 15.10.2002
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