November 29, 2004

The "Devil" in us All

As I was preparing to read The Devil's Dictionary, Diana came into my room and told me how long it was. I was about ready to die. As I commented on Katie's blog I did not get half was through the letter B. It was not until after it was due for class that I have actually taken the time to read through this work. I think that although it is synical and bias depending on the view points that you have, the dictionary can also be a great conversation starter.

Let me start off by saying first that i was greatly amused by the fact that some of the definitions weren't even definitions at all but quotes (or supposed quotes as some cases may be) from other people. For instance the definition for Allegiance was a quote from a one G.J. Who the heck is G.J?! I mean come on now! What was Bierce thinking when he wrote some of these things? It is like he just heard some random guy on the streets say this and he thought it was funny so he put it in his dicitonary.

Now, let me tell you what some of my favorite words and their definitions are and why.

1. Ambidextrous is a person able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left. I couldn't believe this one when I read it. It was like he was saying to the people in the street, "I know how you work! You aren't fooling me!"

2. Birth according to Bierce is the first and direst of all disasters. I laughed so hard when I first read this because at the time I was feeling so down in the dumps because of things going on in my life that I was wishing I hadn't been born. So it was like it was perfect for how I was feeling at that moment.

3. A Bore is a person who talks when you wish him to listen. I sometimes feel like this when I am trying to tell someone something and I just need them to listen, but they feel the need to tell me every little story of how their aunt's uncle's cousin's friend had a problem very similar to mine.

4. Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. I still do not understand this definition. I originially looked it up because I want to teach elementary school, but I still think over it today.

These are just a few of the words that I enjoyed. I have many more and I still have not even really finished reading the whole dicitionary. I really like Shanna's idea of dressing up the this little piece of the Devil and setting it on a coffee table in your home. It is a great conversation starter. People can try and think of where and why Bierce chose a particular word or even what they think he meant by his definition that he placed or did not place as the case may be. I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. Please let me know what some of your favorite words were.

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at November 29, 2004 5:57 PM

How about the intent of Bierce? Do you think he was hoping the reader would react a certain way, or do you think that he was open to individual interpretations?

Posted by: Amanda at December 1, 2004 1:43 PM

This is a point that I hadn't thought of. I think that Bierce was leaving it open to individual interpretations. I mean if he wasn't he would have explained more about why he defined things the way he did. Personally, I enjoyed being able to interpret the definitions. I think that some of those words and their responses could have been taken in so mnay different ways so that it could be used in many different contexts. What do you think Amanda?

Posted by: Tiffany at December 1, 2004 1:50 PM

I think he definitely thought that he would make an impression, but I'm not really sure if he wanted to have an individual assessment.

He had his motives, and he steered the reader into his mindset. After reading Bierce, my view toward the world was altered. In fact, the sky looked a little bit grayer that day. :-D

Posted by: Amanda at December 1, 2004 2:22 PM

I think that Bierce may have steered his readers in this direction, but don't you think that his readers were maybe hoping to get some direction from what he wrote? I mean, Bierce would have been gathering up devoted readers all along, but he would have also have been gaining new readers as well.

Posted by: Tiffany at December 1, 2004 2:26 PM
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