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Lady Aquila

Mar 22, 05 - 11:03 PM
Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

I thought I should say a few words about the WSH. No, it isn't an anagram of a chain of stationers, it is the Warped Sense of Humour.

How many times have you heard a bongo proudly announce that she has a Warped Sense of Humour? Very few, one hopes, as it is an intense mortification to know people that banal (and such people are, I assure you, banal beyond all known limits of banality). Neverthless, it is one of the most oft-repeated cliches of the Pit.

An interesting point arises here. In bongo lonely-hearts advertisements (or whatever they call them in the Pit) every other announcement includes the initials GSH, meaning "Good Sense of Humour". Why, then,do we not have WSH, which is an equally commonplace cliche? The answer to this question is well worth thinking about, because it reveals some rather interesting things about Pit-psychology.

Of course we all know the answer. A person who claims a Warped Sense of Humour believes she is marking herself out as "unusual", "eccentric", "odd", "different" etc. To reduce the phrase to a set of initials would be to admit that it is a cliche, which - despite the fact that it clearly is a cliche - would destroy the whole point of saying it.

It is a cliche whose entire point is that it isn't a cliche. It is a well-worn phrase that derives its entire raison d'etre from not being a well-worn phrase. It is a tediously predictable statement that rests for its very being upon its imagined newness and unpredictability.

To a certain extent every one who uses the phrase has to imagine that she invented it and is using it for the first time - that it is her own idea: while not only is the same idea being expressed by half the bongos in existence, but it is being expressed in the very same words.

How do we account for this? Clearly it is an example of the pseudo-rebellion on which Pit-culture is based. Clearly also it is an example of the deformist mentality which has been taught to think that chaos is better than order, ugliness better than beauty, the warped better than the straight and so forth.

Clearly also it is an example of the classic tenet of persuasion technique: that if you want some one to adopt an idea you should let her believe she thought of it herself.

How this technique is successfully applied not individually but on a conveyor-belt basis, programming millions of sheep-like lumpenproles to express the same idea in the same words and each to believe herself original is one of the mysteries of the mass-mind-manipulator's craft.

We shall not investigate that further here. One further point that should be made, though, is to note that this is yet another example of the fact that, however deeply entrenched Pit-ideology becomes; however much a generation grows that has known nothing other than Pit-deformism; the whole aberrant system remains morally parasitic on values of the Real World it has destroyed. It is in constant rebelion - sometimes serious, sometimes playful - against a world it has razed to the ground two generations ago, and this pseudo-rebellion is the very centre of its being.

Think once again of that phrase "I have a Warped Sense of Humour" spoken by every fool in Pit-pyjamas as if she were the first to mouthe it. Does it not imply an imaginary backdrop? A sort of shadowy image of the Real World which is full of people who have a Normal Sense of Humour? Is that not why one cannot reduce it to a set of initials in a lonely-hearts advertisement? For that would be to admit that one is living in the Pit where the abnormal has become normal and the normal no longer exists.

And that would deprive the Pit of its only point of reference.
Miss Runcible

Mar 23rd, 2005 - 2:18 AM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

Oh, how very clever and insightful, Lady Aquila. Are you this brilliant always, or does it just come upon you in odd moments, like the hiccups?

One is particularly taken with the phrase "sheep-like lumpenproles"... how terribly giggle-making!
Miss B*X

Mar 23rd, 2005 - 11:15 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

I would agree, a most interesting and thought provoking analysis.....

I'm sure there are other examples of such Bongoisms, It has just prompted me to ponder on't.....
Umm Jack

Mar 24th, 2005 - 9:11 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

I noticed the phenomenon many years before I encountered Aristasia, and as a girl I actually kept a collection of platitudes which are believed to be original. Bongos must not ever listen to each other or they could not possibly persist in the delusion that each one is a Wild, Original, Zany etc. etc. Creature. And they clearly never raise their bovine heads from the trough provided by the Octopus, or they would have to see the glaring and inescapable fact that the only real differences visible from the Pit are manifested by members of groups that uphold Real values - primarily religious minorities.

It is a very interesting sight, watching a young person who has been carefully indoctrinated to believe that all religious people must be brainwashed sheep, upon her first encounter with those sheep, who invariably display more originality of mind and real individuality than she had heretofore encountered in her entire earthly pilgrimage. Funny, that. If a sheep knows she needs a shepherd, she becomes less of a sheep; but a sheep who insists on trying to walk on her hind legs and talk like a maid all by herself is still a baa-baa sheep.
Sushuri Novaryana

Mar 24th, 2005 - 11:26 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

Or perhaps it were better to say that a sheep who nows who her shepherds are and why she follows them is a freer being than a sheep who imagines she has no shepherd, but is in fact herded very rigidly in every step she takes by a shepherd whom she is too sheep-like even to see.

Mar 26th, 2005 - 1:20 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

It is not quite in the same class of platitude, but I am always irritated when someone refers to the Victorians being so prudish that they even covered the legs of pianos. I do not know how widepread this practice was, but it must surely belong to the Victorian habit of over-decoration rather than their modest sensibilities. The platitude is used to throw scorn on modesty of dress and to suggest it is not far off sheer lunacy.
Miss Belleanne

Mar 26th, 2005 - 1:30 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

Quite right, Carina.

I once met a bongo who claimed that all he knew about the Victorian period was their frightful susceptibility to bare table legs. The poor creature!

Mar 26th, 2005 - 2:20 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

Dr. Bowdler is often cited as the extreme example of Victorian prudery. He was responsible for an edited edition of shakespeare, in which, as he said:

'Nothing was added to the original text; but those words are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family.'

Not such a dreadful idea really, considering some of the words that are in Shakespeare, but "bowdlerisation" has become a term of ridicule.

Compare Dr. Bowdler's relatively modest project with the work of bongo publishers, who, in preparing new editions of children's books, often censor all references to discipline, to unapproved attitudes to "gender", to traditional class attitudes, and who are so over-sensitive to racial matters that a whole chapter was cut from Mary Poppins and even smoking is censored.

Examples include a character's pipe being airbrushed out of the illustrations to Rupert Bear and the delicate slipper hanging on the pretty schoolmistress's wall in Noddy quietly disappearing.

Bowdlerism, according to the dictionary is used to describe "any ridiculously priggish form of censorship".

If Telluria ever regains its senses, what on earth will it make of the Pit?

It should also be noted tha Dr. Bowdler was not attempting to suppress all non-Bowdlerised editions of Shakespeare; only to provide one edition that could safely be read aloud in the Victorian drawing room. He sets out his intentions clearly and honestly. Bongo censorship is usually surreptitious, unacknowledged and makes the original, untampered-with text unavailable outside second-hand shops.

Which is one of the many reasons we prefer real editions.
Princess Mushroom

Mar 26th, 2005 - 3:28 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

Here is a tiny picture of Nody's classroom with the pretty schoolmistress, whose name is Miss Rapp (I wonder if Johnny Bowdlerongo changed that too)
Princess Mushroom

Mar 26th, 2005 - 3:39 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

Yes there she is - and it's hard to tell with such a teeny picture, but isn't that the slipper subtly retouched into a board-duster or something just beside the wall-chart? Has any one any pictures with the original slipper? It appears in most of the unretouched classroom scenes.

By the way, did you know that Pegleg Pete from the Mickey Mouse cartoons has been changed in the Pit to plain "Pete" in deference to anti-disableism?
Lady Aquila

Mar 27th, 2005 - 2:41 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

The Bowdlerisation often goes further. For example, in one of Miss Dorita Fairlie-Bruce's Dimsie series of schoolgirl books, one of the girls' mothers has a disgraceful secret. She has been cheating at cards.

In a bongo reprint of the book, her secret is changed to shoplifting - a clearly unwarrantable interference with the text which goes far beyond even the most extreme conception of mere censorship.

Why would such a change be made? Well, cheating at cards has certain implications behind it. 1) it implies a leisured wife who does not work, who has a maid and who spends much of her time playing cards with ladies of her own class. 2) The whole air of the disgraceful secret belongs to an aristocratic world where gambling debts are called "debts of honour" and cheating at cards involves a loss of honour of the most extreme kind. Even if we consider the gambling cult to be a perversion of traditional honour (which I do), it is nonetheless the direct ancestor of the Raihira idea of honour as connected with combat and risk. It is the honour of the knight or the samurai in rather reduced modern garb.

Shoplifting, on the other hand, is the proletarian crime of petty theft, presumably supposed to be more understandable to a proletarianised audience. A truly extraordinary example of the lengths to which this tampering can go in the quest of re-shaping everything in the squalid light of the Pit.

Incidentally, I heard that the publishers of the Narnia books intended to eliminate all Christian bits. Quite how they think they can do that I cannot imagine. Are they intending to take out Aslan, who is clearly an allegory of the Christ? Or perhaps they are too dim to have realised that.
Rosa Renard

Apr 25th, 2005 - 11:44 PM
Re: Urban Platitudes no. 326b: The Warped Sense of Humour

One of the main Òurban platitudesÓ is that Òhumans are just animalsÓ. I heard this again today, and it annoyed me all over again. On the one hand it is used to justify or explain away all sorts of unsettling behaviour, and on the other it fuels the enthusiasm for Òanimal rightsÓ as opposed to the human duty of animal welfare. It derives, presumably, from DarwinÕs theory of evolution. Of course the kinship between animals and humans had long been recognised; perhaps the change lies in the differences being seen as differences of degree and not of kind, from a different path of gradual development rather than a radical division. Or perhaps it lies in the word ÒjustÓ; the denial of anything more, a spiritual element, an immortal soul.