…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
There has been some interesting, albeit private response to von Gress’ The Joke. Oldies don’t twit, and, alas! don’t comment on blogs, however astute they, i.e. the blogs, may be. To summarise the opinions, allusions and semi-senile ramblings: Obama’s efforts are a sad joke; those of Putin’s a sick joke; some recalled Kundera and others Heller. That Milo Minderbinder of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 (first published 1961) springs to the educated peoples’ minds is not too surprising, for what is happening in Middle East is an absurdity squared and represents a fertile ground for conspiracy theories of the whole spectrum. (Somebody ought to write something about it – oops, someone probably had and then died in so called suspicious circumstances.)
For those whose memories of the books they read in their childhood is fading – Italy, WWII – “… It has characters such as Milo Minderbinder, who devotes all his time to infinitely elaborate commercial enterprises. At one point he bombs his own airfield in exchange for a promise from the Germans of the cost of the operation plus 6 percent…”
Is it still only 6 percent?
The title, of course evoked, probably unintentionally, Milan Kundera‘s The Joke, his first book. Not born on the Fourth of July, but on the Fools Day, the leitmotiv of sybaritic dishonesty, denunciants’ amorality and shallowness of thought runs through all his work. Still, Kundera’s last, hopefully last, book contains a bit I found useful for my purposes:
“If some servant to truth should discover you’re French! Then of course you’ll be suspect! He’ll think you must have some shady reason to be hiding your identity! He’ll alert the police! You’ll be interrogated! You’ll explain that your Pakistani character was a joke. They’ll laugh at you: What a stupid alibi! You must certainly have been up to no good! They’ll put you in handcuffs!”
He saw the anxiety return to Caliban’s face.
“Ah no, no! Forget what I just said! I’m talking nonsense. I’m exaggerating!” Then, lowering his voice, he added: “Still, I know what you mean. Joking has become dangerous. My God, you must know that! Remember the story about the partridges that Stalin used to tell his palls. And remember Khrushchev, shouting in the lavatory! Khrushchev, the great hero of truth, spluttering with contempt! That scene was prophetic! It really was the start of a new era. The twilight of joking! The post-joke age!” (pp76-77 Milan Kundera The Festival of Insignificance, Faber & Faber 2015)
No sooner published by Faber & Faber than some sick female lawyer in India wants to ban Sikh jokes, so read this, not too funny, while you can. Our silly sisters are sure to follow her..
- Sikh on phone: Doctor my wife is pregnant. She is having pain right now. Doctor: Is this her first child? Sardar: No this is her husband speaking.
- Sikh: How much is my mobile bill? Call centre: Sir, just dial 123 to know current bill status. Sikh: Stupid, not current bill, my mobile bill.
- Sikh to his servant: Go and water the plants. Servant: It is already raining. Sikh: So what, take an umbrella and go.
- Teacher: What are prehistoric monsters called when they sleep. Sikh: A dinosnore!
- Teacher: What language do they speak in Cuba? Sikh: Cubic.
- Boss: Where were you born? Sikh: India. Boss: Which part? Sikh: What which part? Whole body was born in India.
- Interviewer: What is your birth date? Sikh: 13 October. Interviewer: Which year? Sikh: Every year.
(Source: Ms Harvinder Chowdhury’s petition in the Supreme Court)
Should Obama’s jokes be banned?
But back to the Middle East and the hilarious doings there; hilarious only if you are a typical misanthropic Green’s voter and find, for example, the sight of drowning people amusing or at the least supporting your ideology. Sarah Hanson-Young furious that boat people safely returned.
People observing the Israeli-Palestinians conflict as presented by media may or may not have been puzzled by one glaring omission in the often gory and vivid images. Given that West Bank/Gaza strip imports 16,330 bbl/day of refined petroleum products (2012 est.) it is strange that we never see a petrol tanker burning. Palestinian terrorists’ concern for the fellow inhabitants? Protecting the environment? Cynics are suggesting none of the above. Apparently the company which has monopoly on import is jointly owned by a relative (a son?) of Ariel Sharon and a relative of Mohammed Yasser Arafat, that famous Nobel Peace Prize recipient. If true, it is a lucrative joke indeed.
Those in Afghanistan are obviously not ‘haram':