Comments on: Humorous Interlude The wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. -- Mary Oliver Wed, 09 Sep 2015 20:33:37 +0000 hourly 1 By: Minds Erased Thu, 12 Jun 2008 14:17:01 +0000 THE LEFTHANDED LEXICON

by William Marvel
The Conway Daily Sun
Monday, September 18, 2006

Anyone who has studied the human species for a few years should be sufficiently cynical to know Ambrose Bierce and his Devilís Dictionary. That collection of sage observations served well enough in its day, and it is periodically revived, but it deserves certain additions and revisions. What follows represents a few entries for, shall we say, the definitive addition.

catastrophe, n. 1. In nature, a geological or meteorological event that threatens the survival of entire communities, continents, or of the planet itself. 2. In politics, the revelation of an embarrassing truth that jeopardizes the likelihood of an incumbentís reelection.

committee, n. A gathering of three or more people for the purpose of collecting their most ridiculous ideas and memorializing them in a fashion that any of the individual members would find mortifying if held personally responsible.

congressman, n. A successful aspirant for both the condition of amnesia and the security of a federal pension, chosen through a contest of telling the most convincing lies.

corporation, n. An officially recognized syndicate in which the members are customarily allowed to enjoy most of the proceeds of criminal activity without suffering any of the consequences.

democracy, n. 1. An oligarchic system, esp. since 2000 A.D., in which a majority of the people within the state believe that they were allowed to participate in making a decision that was preordained by the dominant partyís leadership. 2. A form of government in which decisions are made by a majority of the people within the state (now obsolete).

god, n. A principal character in the mythology of primitive peoples, supposed to possess the power to cure all evils but in most instances notoriously unwilling to exercise that power; despite such inhumane perversity, this character is nonetheless reputed to be entirely benevolent.

insurgent, n. The name given by armed invaders to those who resist their domination.

judge, n. A lawyer who has made substantial contributions to successful gubernatorial candidates, who is rewarded with relief from the danger of malpractice complaints, regardless of the degree of idiocy exhibited from the bench.

law, n. A tradition established to protect the wealthy from injury by others, to secure them rights of private ownership in public property, and to provide them with a vehicle for intimidating and abusing the poor.

lawyer, n. [from Anglo Saxon ďliarĒ]. In modern law, the principle beneficiary of any human tragedy, identifiable by the struggle to suppress a smile at the conclusion of judicial proceedings.

license, n. A certificate of authorization from the state to pursue activities that would otherwise be considered criminal. See lawyer, e.g.

patriot, n. One who boisterously professes to love his own nation, or to hate another, and who insists on the duty of others to take up arms in the protection and expansion of his own wealth.

patriotism, n. A common form of dementia distinguished by an attraction to brightly colored rags and martial music, often used as an excuse for crimes that cannot be explained by more sophisticated varieties of insanity.

police, n. A self-perpetuating organization established to create the illusion of public safety; known for failing to provide timely protection for the citizen who is physically threatened, and for simultaneously advocating against the citizenís right of self-defense on the grounds that that is the responsibility of the police.

priest, n. One supposed to be a franchised subcontractor of the mythical god (q.v.) whose two main duties involve assuring customers of the affectionate protection available from his principal and explaining his principalís repeated failure to demonstrate that affectionate protection. In the secular field of actuarial gambling known as insurance, these duties are performed by one called an agent.

property, n. Artificially partitioned portions of the earth, once claimed by kings by virtue of divine right and later conveyed to individuals who, though denying the divine right of kings, still pretend to hold valid title.

recreation, n. In the developed nations, a cornucopia of activities invented to absorb the abundant leisure of non-productive individuals, and to protect them from the danger of thinking about their personal insignificance; unknown in the third world except in the form of the storytelling that ameliorates incessant labor.

revolution, n. An exercise in political purification once deemed natural and morally justified, so viewed now only when directed against governments or heads of state hostile to the current administration, but otherwise criminalized as the most heinous form of heresy against the civil religion.

sentimentality, n. The American substitute for political dialogue.

sheriff, n. The principal law enforcement officer of a county, who in many regions also holds an ex officio position as chief of that countyís criminal element.

welfare, n. 1. A gift that the recipients of congressional campaign contributions give to corporations under the auspices of tax incentives or business subsidies, allegedly for the public good. 2. A humiliating stipend grudgingly dispensed to mothers who have been abused or abandoned by the fathers of their children.

William Carvel lives and lexicogitates in South Conway.