Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Proverbs Annoy and Delight

There are some aphorisms, sayings, proverbs, old saws, what have you that are really annoying. One of these is that the best defense is a good offense. Folks will pull that one out and flash it as if to say QED. But the best defense is not a good offense. Nonetheless, it has been said so often that simply deploying the proverb is deemed sufficient to foreclose discussion.

Take this discussion that I had with Socrates, for example:

SOCRATES: The best defense is a good offense.
VACHE FOLLE: No it isn't.
SOCRATES: It is written that the best defense is a good offense.
VACHE FOLLE: You got me there.

Defense is much less costly to mount than offense. And while you're off being offensive, you still have to mount a defense just in case.

Another one is that once you go black you'll never go back. Not true. I went black and came back. Lots of people have. Why do people say this? Also, it is not true that the sweetness of a berry is a function of its darkness.

You can teach an old dog a new trick despite what people say. I've done it many times.

Familiarity does not necessarily breed contempt. The person with whom you are familiar has to be contemptible. Sometimes formality breeds contempt, as when someone insists on a silly honorific that he doesn't really merit.

Absence doesn't necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Out of sight, out of mind is just as apt to be true.

I like the following Barbadian proverbs even though I don't have a clue what they're talking about in some cases:

"Crow fly high but when he die ant eat he eye."

"Monkey don't know how big he ass is til he swallow a plum seed."

"If shit had wings, dog would buy a gun."

Seriously, when would you deploy these proverbs? They're clearly meant to convey some deeper truth and are not simply observations about the animals involved.

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