“It is remarkable by how much a pinch of malice enhances the penetrating power of an idea or an opinion. Our ears, it seems, are wonderfully attuned to sneers and evil reports about our fellow men.”–Eric Hoffer
There’s a fine line between the boundaries of utopian naiveté and cynical thought. The saccharine sweet world of the Pollyanna, on the surface should appeal to everyone’s desire for pleasing thoughts. However, the maudlin verses of gift store inspirational booklets and anthologies of happy, happy poetry are just a bit much for regular folks. The overly positive writing leaves many of us feeling like we’ve consumed too much candy. However, the minimalist disparagement of a talk show host or critic leaves the aftertaste of bigotry and the bitter bile of indigestion akin to drinking too much whiskey.
The truth of the matter is hinted at by the Eric Hoffer quote. To effectively influence people, you have to display just enough friction to make your point interesting. The trick is to tickle the fancy without being cynical or dishonest. You’ve got to be relevant and punchy.
“Every war results from the struggle for markets and spheres of influence, and every war is sold to the public by professional liars and totally sincere religious maniacs, as a Holy Crusade to save God and Goodness from Satan and Evil.”–Robert Anton Wilson
On the surface, the Wilson quote seems cynical or negative. But if you carefully read it, you’ll see that it is a legitimate, positive wakeup call. It’s the bare naked truth. The nitty gritty of the statement is beautiful in its austerity.
There are instances when each one of us, regardless of our innate levels of patience and overall happiness can totally relate to this little gem:
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”–H. L. Mencken
If you are 100% honest with yourself, don’t you have a little inner Hitler wanting to act out sometimes? When you’re most frustrated with your surroundings, don’t you feel this for even a second or two? The impulse certainly grabs your attention, doesn’t it?
“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”–Mark Twain
Honestly, does the Mark Twain comment need any further comment? If you like that sort of honesty you may wish to try this link:
Before you go there, know that it is not for the faint of heart nor the conventional mind. It will rub the commonplace individual very abruptly with its raw truth. It’s that good.
“It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.”–H. L. Mencken
I had to get another Mencken quotation into this post, if only because it summarizes what I’ve been trying to express today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness has a favorite Menckin quote, too. “It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf.”–H. L. Mencken