Monday, December 1, 2008

You never know where you'll stumble across some homespun

Call me unimaginative but I would not have predicted that a 'novel' by 'Belle de Jour', author of The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl and The Further Adventures of a London Call Girl, would prove to be so densely stuffed with pithy and useful observations about Life.

This one, for example: 'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.' Now what you have right there is a recipe for a happier life. As mantras go, combine it with 'This is not about me' and you'll never find yourself reaching for medicinal brandy or indeed any other spirit or combination thereof (another beauty from Belle*: 'I'm so bored of** cocktails. Made for people who don't like the taste of alcohol: in a word, children') for therapeutic purposes again.

I particularly liked this one because I myself have been intermittently stomping round the house shouting 'S/he's got to be either malicious or stupid, it has to be the one or the other, there's no other explanation' for several decades now. Despite the facts that (a) I am old enough to be her mother and (b) she enthuses about a number of sexual practices that I find icky or, worse, pointless (why would you want to ... Oh never mind), I think Belle and I would get on.


* See what I did there?

** Can anyone pinpoint the year people started saying 'bored of' instead of 'bored with' or 'bored by'? Was it around 2000? Some kind of millennial prepositional transformational thingy? Unusually it appears not to be nation-specific but rather to have sprung up spontaneously and simultaneously right across the English-speaking world.

15 comments:

Mindy said...

My five year old says bored of. Must be what they are teaching them in school these days.

Fyodor said...

The "observation" is a quotation of "Hanlon's Razor": "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Re: Belle de Jour, what TDD said on another thread, on another blog. You know the one I mean.

Personally, one of my favourite quotations of all time is André Gide's, "Toutes choses sont dites déjà; mais comme personne n'écoute, il faut toujours recommencer."

This is, of course, a shameless ripoff of A.N.Whiteheads' "Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it."

Naturally, Whitehead was himself plagiarising P. Terentius Afer: "Nullum est iam dictum quod non dictum sit prius." Which rather proves Gide's point. Or vice versa.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Mindy, see what I mean? 2000.

Fyodor, well, la-di-da, as Diane Keaton used to say from under her hat. I wonder who Belle de Jour really is. Personally I suspect a conglomerate of scalpel-witted young gayboys, not unlike the writers of Sex and the City if the rumours are true.

Sans doute it is indeed one of toutes choses etc. The recycling of aphorisms is the Sisyphean boulder de nos jours.

I never did Latin so will have to guess. 'Nothing is ever said that has not been said before'?

À propos Gide, have you read Robert Dessaix's new book (more or less) about him? I'm guessing the style may be a little mannered for you but the book itself is extravagantly gorgeous.

Jonathan Shaw said...

My guess is that the parody Bored of the Rings (book 1969, adventure game 1985)may have been the beginning rather than just an early example, of the shift.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Aha.

That is very astute, Jonathan. You may well be right.

Fyodor said...

"Personally I suspect a conglomerate of scalpel-witted young gayboys, not unlike the writers of Sex and the City if the rumours are true."

That would not surprise me.

"I never did Latin so will have to guess."

Yep. Mind you, it's a very educated guess you're wielding there.

"À propos Gide, have you read Robert Dessaix's new book (more or less) about him?"

No, but it is on my "to read" list.

"I'm guessing the style may be a little mannered for you but the book itself is extravagantly gorgeous."

It's possible that I may yet be capable of surprising you, Mme. Pavlova. Why do you think the style may be too mannered for one so unmannerly as me?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Who knows? For all I know, you're him.

But I doubt it. I know him, and if you were he, he would have cracked by now.

As for the Latin, 'educated' doesn't quite cover it. Without the preceding conversation I might just as easily have thought it meant 'Nothingness is said to be before itself.'

Deborah said...

* See what I did there?

I did. I appreciated it. A small piquant burst of flavour bringing out the glory of the post, like one crimson rose in a softly blue and purple and mauve garden.

My girls (ten, seven and seven) say "bored of". (Where should the fullstop go, BTW? Inside or outside the speech marks?)

Deborah said...

Oh, and I'm inclined to say, "Cockup, not conspiracy," which is rather cudgelsome in comparison to malice and stupidity.

Fyodor said...

"Who knows? For all I know, you're him.

But I doubt it. I know him, and if you were he, he would have cracked by now."

Heh! That made me laugh out loud, and not just because of the double entendre. I'm amazed you'd even consider the possibility.

The reason why I ask about mannerliness is that I enjoyed Twilight of Love enormously, and Arabesques seems to involve a similar recipe, which is why I'm keen to read it. Is that what you meant by mannered?

"Without the preceding conversation I might just as easily have thought it meant 'Nothingness is said to be before itself.'"

...and that's very close to the mark. You had context, sure, but that's what made it a guess.

fifi said...

I was about to say something really clever and funny here but I was just distracted by that colossal stats figure at the bottom of the page. Could this be true? more than 11,000 visitors in less than 3 months?

Phew.


. I say Bored with, the offspring says the same.


Yes, I saw what you did, and it was good. Very good.

Another Outspoken Female said...

I enjoyed Belles blog and the 1st book (not read the second) was a faithful rendition of it. Though the TV version (with Billy Piper) which can be find down the usual avenues of the net less so.

I can't hear the expression "A Levels" now without thinking of Belle. And I'm guessing having ones A levels gained popularity around the same time 'bored' usage changed. Though I don't think the two are connected :)

Bernice said...

Perhaps your writer(s) are not gay men - in my experience, they languidly bat their eyelids while murmuring...
"Bored now. Let's talk about me."
And we do.

Suze said...

I first noticed people saying 'bored of' in England in the early 80s. Ever since, I've assumed it was northern English. I've only ever heard English people say it - at least, I hadn't noticed if it has spread to the Australian-born. It's interesting if it has, at it's generally Americanisms which spread in that way. Maybe, as JS suggested, it's come via some specific media entity.

Ampersand Duck said...

I saw what you did too, and the laugh hurt. And well, they say the Wisdom of the Ages goes hand in hand with the Oldest Profession. Who says? I dunno, I probably say it.

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