Then there are the infrequent forwarders, whose discretion confers upon them a certain credibility. I do take a look at theirs.
The other day an occasional distributor sent me a group email that I actually liked. Since I look down my nose at so many of its brethren, it seems only fair to post it here, which I do today.
Does that make me a hypocrite, no better than the knee-jerk forwarders I often disdain? Mmm... I don't think so. I didn't email you anything; you came here. The fact that the content came by way of group email is incidental.
As for the thing itself, omitting all the "Fw: FWD:"s, it's called "When Insults Were Literate." The subject line says it all.
I love a good putdown, at least when it's deserved, but you hear one so rarely these days. A regrettable aspect of our inarticulate, coarse society is people's frequent use of profanity as an insult. Not only is this in poor taste, it's lazy, unoriginal and rarely descriptive.
A clever, pointed skewering is so much more satisfying. We would all do well to emulate the luminaries below the next time we need to put someone in their place.
Incidentally, I can't argue my way out of all hypocrisy. Thank you for overlooking (i) my prissy condemnation of the use of profanity despite the profane Jeremy Piven photo caption posted on this site for months now and (ii) my complaining about laziness and unoriginality while blog-posting a group email.
And now, without further ado...
When Insults Were Literate
Lady Astor: "If you were my husband, I'd put poison in your tea."
Winston Churchill: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."
Member of Parliament to Benjamin Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
Disraeli: "That depends, sir, on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
"He had delusions of adequacy."
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
—William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
(This guy is less clever than he is rude, don't you think? Who insults someone for giving them a book they're not interested in? -bjb)
"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."
—George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night. Will attend second if there is one."
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
—Irvin S. Cobb
"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."
"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure."
—Jack E. Leonard
"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt."
"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."
—Thomas Brackett Reed
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."
—Charles, Count Talleyrand
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination."
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening but this wasn't it."