Dredging Up the Past and Pummelling You With It

July 3, 2008

Is that a cigar?

Here are some old quotations from print PERSIFLAGE that were just to good to go into the dustbin of history.

Reading ability just sufficient to spell out the advertisements is all that is demanded in our culture.

Gershon Legman

Work is a form of nervousness.

Don Herold

Nothing needs less justification than pleasures.

Bertolt Brecht

"So long as your panties are hanging on the chandelier, I'll know that you still love me."

old Berlin nightclub song

The ape and the man exist in one body; and when the ape's desires are about to be fulfilled, he disappears and is succeeded by the man, who is disgusted with the ape's appetites.

Colin Wilson

I know very well that without God's grace there is nothing good in me, and that I am as much a piece of useless, stinking shit as anyone else, if not more.

Cardinal of Mainz
Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire

What harm if in the midst of loneliness we have one little laugh?

Lu Yu

PERSIFLAGE is updated on Thursdays.


Here, a blast from a past, the very first classified ads from way back in July of 2001.
Please do not respond to any of the ads as they are a good six years out of date.

Wanted: One very small pair of pants but must be large enough for a medium-sized badger. Suitable for church or school. Reply Box101.
Single man seeks woman for road trip to Sanford in mid-August. Object: companionship. Must enjoy camels. Reply Box 227.
For Sale: Transcripts of the TV series Small Wonder. In the original German. Inquiries – Box 132.
Why not subscribe to Badger Fancier’s Monthly? Only $37.95 per year (9 issues). Write to BFM, Box 908, Fuzzy Thing, Wyoming 09876.
Work at home: Internationally renowned company seeks individuals willing to dispose of toxic waste in their own homes. Top dollars paid.
Send criminal record and blurry photo to Box 53.
Willing to trade any pre Gulf War kitchen utensils (if in good condition) for tapes of me singing Hail to the Chief in a funny voice. Reply to Box 657.
Lonely bachelor of indeterminate age seeks similar woman with a penchant for saddle soap. Object: rousing game of cowboy and schoolmarm. Reply to Box 228.
For Sale: Rare erotica. Pinsey's Illustrated History of Adult Soothers, The Lonely Goatherd, Mr. Big's Adventure in Littletown and others. Discretion assured (more or less). Reply to Box 169.
Will trade my badly misused wool socks for pretty much anything. Any offers welcome. Really. Reply to Box 44.

Take out an ad in PERSIFLAGE! Increase your market by 3 or 4 not very discerning individuals! Only $10! Maximum 40 words.



just for fun,
a picture of a Tragelaphus strepsiceros

a kudu

I don't think he likes you.

During the day, Greater Kudus normally cease to be active and instead seek cover under woodland, especially during hot days. They feed and drink in the early morning and late afternoon, acquiring water from waterholes or roots and bulbs which have a high water content. Although they tend to stay in one area, the Greater Kudu may search over a large distance for water in times of drought, in southern Namibia where water is relatively scarce they have been known to travel extremely long distances in very short periods of time.

That is according to the Wildlife Fact File. But they could be wrong. Kudus could, in fact, spend their days lurking outside your apartment waiting for you to come out so they can hit you over the head with a sashweight or cosh and then rifle your pants pockets.

I'd keep an eye out just to be on the safe side.

A Week of Old News

From time to time we are approached by fans or enthusiasts of this website whom demand to know why there isn't a collection of Hugh Briss's essays available for purchase somewhere. These people are outraged that their only access to these pearls of wisdom is through the less than complete archives of this site. What about material from the old paper PERSIFLAGE days? Is that lost in the mists of time? How can we access that they want to know.

Okay, that's never happened but just so it never does this week we are presenting a veritable potpourri of our Genius Domus's masterworks. So not a word out of you lot!

Nature's Mendacity

Originally published July 5, 2001.

I have news for you folks: bluejays are eating the Forest Tent Caterpillars. Or at least one is. I saw him. He swooped down right in front of me and flew off with a green one in his mouth. I assumed he was going to eat him (what else would he be doing with it?).

Now a number of things about this are alarming to me. Firstly, what is a bluejay doing in the city now? If I know anything about birds (I don't) aren't bluejays supposed to be somewhere north of here at this time of year? Isn't that how you know it's Canada Day (Dominion Day for those of you of the old school who still remember the supermarket – and by the way, when did the term supermarket go out of style?)? If bluejays are going to hang around here all summer then how am I supposed to plan my holidays? (What a lot of questions I can hear you saying).

I count on Nature (note the capital) to keep me on something of an even keel and if Nature is just going to up and start changing the rules without any warning or discussion then all certainty and stability is going to rapidly leave my life. Where will I be then?

The Key to Happiness Revealed!

Originally published June 28, 2001.

Freud said once (if I'm not mistaken, I couldn't hear him clearly, I was on the other side of the room and Jung was noodling away on that damned harmonica of his) that all human beings need to be happy is love and meaningful work. Hurray Sigmund! Of course that would make human beings happy, but what are the chances of any of us going two for two on this little proposition? Even mild disdain and underpaid drudgery seems like a bit of a stretch for me most days.The trick is not knowing this, the trick is getting this.

My ears prick up (not their natural state) the moment anyone begins discussing human happiness. There's always the chance that someone, sometime, just maybe, might have some borderline useful tip for getting there. I suspect those of you who haven’t just completely given up hope do something similar. Even the cynics amongst us will, if there's nobody watching, check out the horoscopes, read the biorhythms, hover over the phone numbers on psychic hotline ads. Why? Because no matter how silly it seems most of us could benefit from a slight nudge in the general direction of happiness and any kind of hint begins to seem appealing after a while.

Now if, sometime during the last paragraph, you got on your high horse and thought to yourself "I never do that!" or "That stuff's moronic crap!" then hold on a sec and think of all the stupid, desperate things you've done in your quest for happiness (and remember there were probably witnesses that we could dig up if we had to).

Not you? Never fallen for someone who had no interest in you? No? Never stayed in a relationship that every one else in the area code knew was doomed? No? Never got drunk in an effort to deal with your emotional difficulties? Thought so (I suspect we picked up a lot of passengers at that particular little stop on the pathetic express).

In last week's Persiflage [That would have been June 14, 2001 -Ed.] we included a quotation from Kierkegaard: "The difference between men is simply a question of how they say stupid things; the universally human is to say them." I would change this and make it broader. I would say that the universally human is to do stupid things. The question of why we do stupid things is not a difficult one. We're all pretty much flailing around out here. Some of our attempts to sort ourselves out are bound to be pretty hilarious to those not immediately involved. But take heart the chance to laugh at someone else's misfortune is always just around the corner.

The really aggravating thing about all this is that what is a completely darkened room to us seems incredibly well lit to anyone else. What I mean by that is this. Even your most casual acquaintance, after about ten minutes of knowing you, has pretty clear idea of how you should be living your life whereas you, with all your first hand experience and bottomless knowledge of self, haven't the faintest semblance of a blind clue (if you're really honest with yourself – and who the hell wants to do that?) what you should do even later this afternoon for god's sake!

Freud probably could have told you personally, if he met you, what would be meaningful work for you and he also could probably, on a moment's or two reflection, told you who your one true love was but the problem is that it would be in German and you don't speak German do you?

Putting Your Fears to Rest

Originally published November 29, 2001.

Lately it has come to our attention that there are a lot of people in this town who are under the impression that this city is run by a cabal of real estate developers, various business interests and a group of not too bright city councilors. How this insane idea got started we'll never know but let us, right now, assure the readers of this publication that this is very definitely not the case.

In actual fact this city is not run by a cabal of any sorts but by a large star-nosed mole named Melvin. Melvin, who is easily angered when referred to as a rodent, is an exceptionally bright mole but he has a horrible weakness for big-box stores, pointless housing tracts and ridiculous pharaoh-like projects in the inner city. Nuff said?

A public service announcement:

Every year hundreds of kids across the province are forced to watch as their beloved hamsters, gerbils or household rats are subjected to cruel and inhumane grooming procedures by unlicensed and improperly trained rodent groomers. Help stop this tiny tonsorial nightmare now! Send your overly generous donations to the Campaign to Stop Unlicensed Rodent-Grooming Eventually (SURGE). Box 6070, c/o Wink Tarlech, Grand Wizzer.

Tiny Technological Advances

Originally published May 17, 2001.

According to the New Yorker, IBM is working on a system integrating facial recognition software, an earpiece and GPS satellites that will whisper quietly in the ear of the executive using it, the name of any employee who walks by. Does this seem an extraordinarily complex solution for a simple problem to anyone besides me?

Politicians in Ancient Rome used to employ individuals called nomenclators for the same purpose. That seems considerably less ludicrous to me now. At least somebody had to take the bother to learn your name then. It's not like learning somebody's name is that great a chore. And yet it seems to tax people severely. If I had a dime for every time I've been introduced to someone more than three times and they still don't have the faintest idea who I am, I'd have at least enough for a large latte. People are so lazy it amazes even me and I'm renowned for my indolence. But perhaps it's not just sheer laziness behind these developments. Perhaps it's the "neato" factor.

One constantly hears startling statistics on the latest technological advances but are these advances really all that impressive? If it's true, for instance, that the average PC has more computing power than the mainframe used by NASA to land Apollo 11 on the moon then how come all most people manage to do on them is play endless games of solitaire and download Internet porn (or produce silly little magazines)? Shouldn’t the surface of the moon be crowded with lunar landers by now?

Technology is full of false promises. It's as honest as your average horny yobbo leaning on the bar at last call who really doesn't want to leave alone. Our limitless longing for new shiny gadgets will end badly – you mark my words.

Why is it that we delight in finding needlessly complex technological apparatus to do things that really require little effort. In a recent IBM study it was found that letters that were handwritten or typed were modified an average of eight times. Letters produced on a word processor were modified an average of forty-one times but there was no discernable difference in quality.

We're daily making our lives more complicated by introducing electronics to do things you could easily do with a pencil. At this rate it may be only a matter of months before some small all-black hand held device is wiping your ass for you. Shouldn’t plastic things like that end up down there be for entertainment purposes only? I ask you?

You CAN have it all!

Originally published April 26, 2001.

You can have everything you've dreamed about! It is possible! Now this quick and easy life-changing plan is available to the discerning readers of PERSIFLAGE! The secret is in your dreams.

Perhaps you have dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal, dating a super model or running your own highly profitable computer company or perhaps even making an Academy Award winning film. Just what are your chances of achieving these goals? Well, quite frankly, not very good. Your dreams are wildly out of line. You haven't a hope in hell of accomplishing any of those things. What were you thinking?

What you need to do is adjust your dreams. Making a really good sandwich, watching four straight hours of TV, getting your pants on correctly two days in a row - these are achievable goals. The problem is not with you but with your dreams. By adjusting these dreams to more realistic proportions you can live out your dream life. Start small. Be realistic. Adjust.

Don't go dreaming about things you can't have. Wouldn't it feel much better to achieve your dreams? Well if you adopt this simple program of greatly reduced expectations you can! Start today and Good Luck!

The Tyranny of the Sensible

Originally published July 12, 2001.

Apparently the serving size of an average bag of chips is 15 chips. This is clearly insane. I doubt that there is a single person living on the face of this earth who can restrict him or herself to the consumption of just 15 chips (provided of course that more than 15 chips are available).

This of course raises the question: who decides on these serving size things anyway? Well, my first guess would be, if I didn't already know the answer, that these things are decided by a committee of the criminally insane housed in some stony institution on the outskirts of Council Bluffs, Iowa. But since I know the real answer I will kindly put aside these wild speculations and inform you (after all, what other purpose does this publication serve?) of the real facts of the case.

Serving sizes for all edible products consumed on this continent (the Europeans have a different system and the Asian countries are not so pushy as to tell their citizens how much to eat) are decided by a central committee but it is not located in Council Bluffs, Iowa despite the many inherent pleasures of that pleasant burgh. It is, however, located in the NSM (Nited States Merika) (Damn those Americans!) This committee meets four times per year in a number of secret locations which are all, reportedly, in underground bunkers maintained by the U.S. military.

Now before you go all crazy on me and starting linking the CIA, Roswell, aliens and the Knights Templar into this thing, let me say this: There is no conspiracy. Nope. Sorry. This is a committee comprised solely of upstanding citizens with sound nutritional sense and a love of their fellow man. This, and I can't emphasise this enough, is a far more dangerous group.

If I had told you some convoluted story involving the aforementioned groups (CIA etc.) you would have nodded, smiled quietly to yourself and said something like: "I knew it." Or "Them again." And all would have been right with the world. The X-files would still make sense.

The sad fact of the matter is that most of the harm in this world is caused by well-meaning people with rational plans and no real hidden agenda. These are the people who cannot be allowed to get away with it. I don't know about you but there's no damn way I'm only eating 15 chips!

As a friend of mine always says about cookies: "Just one more row." Consequences and committees be damned.