Apr. 26th, 2012 | 2:41
Here is a wee bit from the work I am at present rescuing from the rubbish bin and furbishing up for self-publication. Google tells me I have not inflicted it upon my 3.6 Loyal Readers before:
That remarkable and sometimes even truthful book, the Wardhall Grammary, has much to say under the heading, False Opposites. A false opposite, it says, consists of ‘inverting the minor term of a relation whilst keeping the relation itself intact’, and is a prolific spawner of boneheaded fallacies. For instance: A fool is one who would rather be happy than right. The opposite, of course, is a wise man: one who would rather be right than happy. The false opposite of a fool is a cynic, one who would rather be unhappy than right. Half-clever persons miss these elegant little distinctions. Because they are cynical, they know they are different from fools, and must therefore, they tell themselves, be wise. We should not sneer. The world takes a cynic into its bosom, but shuns a wise man. And cynicism is such an easy trade! Any half-wit can be unhappy, but it takes a lifetime of hard work to be right.
Trianon Barr might be a half-wit, but he was in no danger of becoming a cynic. When a man gets his unhappiness from exile, hunger, robbery, and being attacked by ill-tempered monsters, he is unlikely to grow fond of it. Your true cynic would rather be unhappy from things like boredom, loneliness, and the bad market for self-pitying poetry. Besides, Trianon had a servant to be cynical for him.