Lousy Jokes, Lousy Thinking

One Liners Bring Mental Impotence, Kakistocracy, & Bin Laden’s Silencing

Americans love & fascination for one-liners does not make for a mood propitious to learning how to appreciate, let alone forge, long views.

Glenn Andrews: This is, I think, a brilliant observation, and possibly difficult to appreciate for anyone living in the U.S. The one-liner style of verbal exchange has meant the near-extinction of actual conversation.

Patrice Ayme:  Thanks Glenn. What got me to this conclusion was to watch French comics versus American comics. A joke that has to appear within a few words, cannot be that deep. In France a joke can build up for two minutes before the punchline.

Glenn Andrews: I’m afraid it’s worse than that. American speech patterns have been so heavy influenced by TV situation comedies that regular conversations are now little more than one-liner exchanges. In other words, no really conversations at all. Cleverness and quickness trump continuity.

Patrice: Yes, indeed, Glenn. I am experiencing this all the time, and readily getting into clashes with so-called “friends” about this (both the fleshy kind and facebook types). For example one cannot go on so-called philosophy groups without experiencing the glib, or the half-liners. It’s not just the one-liners straight out of Hollywood soap operas, it’s also the fact that “smart” people are “cool” if they can pick up the “cues”, from “body language”. I remember, long ago, the Department Chair at Stanford University Math Department, who could not explain some administrative decision at all. He could not find the words, or the ideas. Not at all. Finally he mumbled: “It’s hard to say”. I was stunned: after all, math is a language: was a mumbling clown the best that one of the (supposedly) best universities could present to the world? Somebody who talked only by saying nothing? With non-saids? Little did I know that, in the following decades, I would be increasingly confronted to mumbling fools, incapable of expressing themselves besides getting red in the face (under my prodding, I must admit).

Last week the president of the USA himself spent like forever, officially listening to lousy jokes in a huge room, during a long dinner. Jokes such as: “Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic as he carries a fox on his head.

Thinking Superbly Is More Morally & Vitally Crucial Than At Any Time Before

Thinking Superbly Is More Morally & Vitally Crucial Than At Any Time Before

However now supporting tyrants consists into learning to think in such an ineffective way that one cannot even see them for the tyrants they are.

One-Liners are to thinking what junk food is to correct nutrition.

The present system of mind control is more sneaky than at any time before. As Montaigne’s friend. la Boétie pointed out five centuries ago, the reign of plutocracy (so-called then “nobles”, or, later, “aristocrats”) depends upon the accord of those it oppresses. Contemplate his “Discourse On Voluntary Servitude”. it was also entitled: “Contr’Un” (“Anti-One”), or “Anti-Dictator

Here is an extract:

“The Grand Turk was well aware that books and teaching more than anything else give men the sense to comprehend their own nature and to detest tyranny.Why dictators burn books. I understand that in his territory there are few educated people, for he does not want many. On account of this restriction, men of strong zeal and devotion, who in spite of the passing of time have preserved their love of freedom, still remain ineffective because, however numerous they may be, they are not known to one another; under the tyrant they have lost freedom of action, of speech, and almost of thought; they are alone in their aspiration.”

Sounds familiar?

Books and teaching are bad for dictators. One-liners are much better: expose enough people long enough to enough of them, and they won’t know how to think. Appreciating one-liners is a form of religion, as it ties minds which learn to become so inclined, together. A religion of the superficial, short and canned.

Difference with five centuries ago? Or any times before? The stakes are much higher now.

Patrice Ayme’

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7 Responses to “Lousy Jokes, Lousy Thinking”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Short jokes, short thoughts?
    What happened to the Osama part, his ‘silencing’?


  2. Kevin Berger Says:

    To be honest, French mainstream “professional” humour is pure crap too, especially when compared to even rather recent times.
    This in large part due to “l’esprit Canal” from the late 80’s-early 90’s on IMHO, which never amounted to much more than the unrepentant aping the SNL style (just as the channel itself was and still is aping HBO), sprinkled with some other “borrowings” from Anglo-Saxons standards (“Spitting image”, most notably).

    All that’s left from this superficially subversive spirit (remember the “décalé” buzzword of the era?) is ultimately a rather snobbish class racism mocking “deep France”, a strain of identity politics humour exemplified by Djamel Debbouze (himself quite a shameless plagiarist of black US stand-up comedians), and an endless stream of shock value toilet humour.

    In comparison to that glib, harmlessly consensual under its pretence of being edgy (“PC”, if you will) mainstream, it’s amazing how the lower-brow 80’s humour from “Les inconnus” remains “relevant – since the ills and flaws it was mocking at the time are still with us, if not worse than what they were at the time.

    So, yeah, French humour today is BS, because it is yet an another empty cultural husk trying to follow the dominant model, and failing at that.
    And then, you have the predictable reactions from the usual suspects, when exposed to a remain of French satire after the CH shootings, oh, well.


  3. Kevin Berger Says:

    Btw, US humour is in the toilet too, all-too often literally, not sure if that’s due to the eventual decline of unrestrained Jewish influence into its fecal matter obsession (hi, Indra!), or a cultural tremor coming from the heavy Germanic influence in early 20Th century (FWIW & IIUC, Germanic low-brow humour is supposed to rely heavily on excretions).
    Which is kind of sad, because the US entertainment industry brought wonders, humour-wise, from the energy-driven slapstick to the screwball comedies to the Howard Hawk style romantic comedy. But over the last decades, maybe at least since WWII, I cannot see one single worthwhile dominant humour style, except maybe 2-3 absurdist ZAZ movies or some deliberate throwbacks at earlier styles (“1941”); the slope has been from Spoof & MAD style camp to first titties, then fart comedies : a real regression toward childhood.


  4. Kevin Berger Says:

    And I’m done polluting this thread with one last tangent : some times ago already, I recall reading an article abstracting what was apparently a serious study comparing that most idiosyncratic things of all : National humour. I dimly recall it, and haven’t saved/bookmarked any relevant material, but what I remember finding interesting was that, while “French” and “German” humour apparently relied on “absurdity” (the shock value between the premise and the outcome), the “US” one relied on the subjected butt of the joke being made fun of. (Can’t recall for the love of Molière what the Brit humour was, my bad)

    I found it interesting at the time, because of the looong exposure to that “bully” style of humour stemming from the US French-bashing campaign.
    One aspect of it that perplexed me, and vexes me to this day, is that very often, it isn’t even good “balls-breaking” (an another topic) or English-style “banter”… rather, it’s crude, playground-like ‘French = surrender LOL”, that pops out of nowhere, as if by sheer automatism. French car? LOL, press the pedal, white flag! French teacher? LOL, did he surrender?! French plane? LOL, does it shoot white flags?
    Etc, etc… Not quips, not jokes, nothing constructed, but rather racial slurs passing as humour, to sort of mark your in-group status.

    Not sure if I’m being confuse here, but this is a trait that I have noticed enough not to chalk it up as random internet shit (as compared say to some French wingnut comments sections, which have their own pathologies, infighting foremost, but curiously, not that kind of bullying), I really believe it is a cultural trait, and one associated with an another, larger trait that I think marks the US (Anglo?) “character”… A punching-down, punching-outside the group, punching-the wogs facility toward “violence”, for lack of a better term.


  5. Glenn Andrews Says:

    Glenn Andrews One thing I noticed in Latin America is people’s ability to start with small talk (the weather, traffic), and allow things to gradually develop into an actual exchange of ideas. North Americans are too sophisticated to begin with exchanges of trivia, so real conversation never even starts.

    There is something very closely related to the sit-com one-liner; but of more recent origin.

    I’ll call it Facebook Speak. I suppose there’s little need to describe it,since we are all awash in it; but it is interesting to speculate on its eventual effect on everyday conversation.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      If it were just Facebook, it would be easy to avoid. I pretty much stay away from Facebook, prefering to comment on my site, on the ground that those who are really interested by speaking with me will go there. Unfortunately, it seems to attract mostly older people who, after a while, drop off sight and site for reasons to be expected. Meanwhile, in real life, I have given up on normal conversation, prefering the atom bomb technique (as the relationships will bomb out, I may as well bomb them myself to learn something from these little experiments).


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