Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nasty Remark

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."  H.L. Mencken

Can I get an 'amen'?

16 comments:

Tag-photos said...

Cute quote.

I am wondering though if there is a reason for this post beyond whimsy.

Christopher said...

Nope.

Anonymous said...

Amen and sooooo true.
I don't think Canada is that far behind in the questionable intelligence quotient.
How about this one from Mr. Mencken: A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
Cheers,
Wyatt

sarah said...

Oooooo, Wyatt, that's harsh.

I'm not a cynic...

Christopher said...

Hahaha! That's awesome, Wyatt! Thank you. I was wondering what I was smelling when I was standing at my grandfather's coffin. What kind of a cynic am I if I can stand at a coffin and look for flowers?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate those kind of off-the-wall, outside-of-the-box, under-the-table, stick-it-in-your-pipe-and-smoke-it observations on life.
Cynics of the world unite!

Wyatt

Christopher said...

"Cynics of the world unite!"Right. So we can all be nasty together? What would be the point in that? Are you looking to overthrow cynicism by uniting a necessarily dissenting point of view? ;)

United cynics, bah! Come to Cynics Are Us where all your derogatory needs meet in one place. No point of view necessary; we have one ready-made for you. ;)

Anonymous said...

What makes someone a cynic?
How does someone arrive at the point where they view life cynically?
Is there a positive in this? If so, what is it?
Sincerely,
J

Christopher said...

Welcome back, J.! It's nice to have your contributions again.

You asked, "what makes someone a cynic?" I have to answer honestly that there is only one prescriptive I can think of that makes someone a cynic: philosophy. That is, the ancient Greeks are credited with the philosophy of cynicism. It is, quite literally, a refusal to associate with the absurd, and a rejection of excesses beyond what nature itself presents. The closest Christian parallel I can think of would be that of the Carthusians and Cistercians and their extreme asceticism.

"How does someone arrive at the point where they view life cynically?"I suppose that depends on the kind of cynicism being expressed. For myself, I see a lot of stuff as simply absurd. But that's only because I view things through a particular philosophical lense, and always have. For some people, they are cynical in the sense of 'dark' and 'mean', and I think for them, a lot of their outlook has to do with being jaded somehow, and not being able to recover. So they compensate by lashing out with verbal barbs and whips.

"Is there a positive in this? If so, what is it?"Hmm. Good question. I can only answer for myself in this. For me, I have to answer 'yes'. And the positive for me is that having a cynical side to me sometimes stops me from obsessing over non-issues, and trivialities that would otherwise draw me away from truly important things; like, philosophy, and religious reflections. In other words, being cynical in a prudent way helps me to stay focused.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Is there some good in being a cynical person?
Heck, yeah.
They pay me real cash here at the News to be cynical! That classifies as good, eh?
As to being a cynic? There are degrees of cynicism, and there a degrees of cynical people. I'm not hardcore, but, like Chris, I do see a lot of things as being absurd. Some politician spouts off about their accomplishments, and as they spew their self congratulating flatulent admiration, my mind immediately envisions a cartoonish response to their own pomposity. I can't help it, it's like breathing to me. Even as a child, I saw the things that people did or said as laced with covert self interest. I suppose this may be the root of my somewhat flaccid cynical personage. I've learned the majority of people rarely say what they mean, and just as often have no idea that whether what they say is actually what they believe.
Anyway, awesome that your whimsical comment sprouted so many responses, Chris.

Wyatt

Anonymous said...

Well ... I typed a long reply, completed by questions and thoughts prompted by my own intrigue, which I somehow lost.
So, I will attempt an abbreviated version here.
There are interesting and thought-provoking responses to my questions about the nature of a cynic.
I can see that my own thoughts are influenced by my family background with family members who are cynical in a destructive way.
Does cynicism lead to bitterness? If it does, how do you guard against that?
Does cynicism affect trust in relationships?
I never thought about the benefits of cynicism, in particular that political cartoons were a form of cynicism. I did know that they were a way of prompting people to look at things differently, of prompting thought and perhaps even action ... a way of pointing out social injustice.
But, if you look at people and all of life that way ...
Is it possible to look at people and see what is good without seeing what you think is bizarre or second-guessing what people say?
I know that people are never fully aware of what they mean because what people say is influenced by so many things: heredity/genes, left/right brain, personality type: introvert/extrovert, life experience, spiritual influence ... and on and on it goes.
I have worked to cultivate (through my own thought processes) a view of people that looks for (assumes?) the best. Perhaps that is naive. It can be if it ignores what may be destructive in a relationship.
Does cynicism affect thankfulness? trust?
How do you guard against bitterness? Or, is that a danger?
You are right: the word "cynic" may have a negative connotation when the word denotes something else.
This is a learning curve for me.
I have never equated cynicism with philosophy.
What is the danger, if any, of the life of a cynic?
Feel free to answer any or all or just read and ignore.
Intrigued,
J

Anonymous said...

Here is a sight that I discovered on my search. Some of this resonates with me and I think you might enjoy looking at this site.
I am, perhaps, more of an idealist, but it sounds like the cynic is many things ... I am beginning to see the lighter side of cynicism.
J
http://www.i-cynic.com/whatis.asp

Anonymous said...

I took the cynic self-test on that site and it said I had "potential".
J

Christopher said...

J.,

I'll attempt an answer to your longer comment tonight. For the moment, I'll just add that my results on the cynic self-test was a 'welcome to the site' notice, with a small disclaimer that I'd fit in well. ;)

I think it's hilarious that you were rated as having "potential". You're just not jaded enough. C'mon, J., get cynical.

Perhaps we should transcribe the lyrics of Olivia Newton John's song Let's Get Physical to Let's Get Cynical. I can see it now: you in your little Mazda hatchback, window down, belting out the lyrics at full-tilt. You know you want to!

Anonymous said...

I am exorable.
I used to think that was a weakness, but it is a strength.
I have spent a wonderful evening with my friend Debbie, in Calgary.
It is amazing how the years just fall away when we are together.
See you guys on the weekend, hopefully.
J

Tag-photos said...

"You're in the right place. Welcome, fellow cynic! Be sure to read the sample definitions from The Cynic's Dictionary. And check out the other features at this site"


That was my greeting from the cynic self test.