Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Devil's Dictionary

Here are a few definitions from Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary. Bierce was a fiery ol' son of a gun, a misanthrope of the caliber I can only pray one day to attain. Even though he published this almost 100 years ago it's still one of the most bitingly funny books ever written:

Envelope, n. The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter.

adv. No better.

n. A sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to have their own way and their own way of having it. In the United States Senate a quorum consists of the chairman of the Committee on Finance and a messenger from the White House; in the House of Representatives, of the Speaker and the devil.

Die, n. The singular of "dice." We seldom hear the word, because there is a prohibitory proverb, "Never say die." At long intervals, however, some one says: "The die is cast," which is not true, for it is cut. The word is found in an immortal couplet by that eminent poet and domestic economist, Senator Depew:

A cube of cheese no larger than a die
May bait the trap to catch a nibbling mie.

Picture, n. A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome in three.

"Behold great Daubert's picture here on view—
Taken from Life." If that description's true,
Grant, heavenly Powers, that I be taken, too.
Jali Hane.


Speaking of Pictures, I need your help with something. I am writing a story about the woman below (please click on her full a larger size with more detail available), and I'm stuck. I need to know: what's she thinking? What happened right before this scene? Anything you can tell me would me most appreciated!