Book Review #18

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds

I am ticked off…. or rather, this book is ticked off the reading list challenge that I don’t follow.

It was originally published before I was born – more than a century before. It was first printed in 1841. The copy that I got on an inter-library loan was reprinted in 1980. It had 3 prefaces – the original, a slightly revised version when the author had it reprinted 30 years later, and yet another from the 1980 re-release.

The 1980 instigator was taking a University Psychology course, when he thought he heard the instructor speaking of an old book about The Madness Of Krauts. He didn’t realize that Germans were called Krauts, that far back. A check of the University library showed him his mistake, but since the copyright had long expired, he felt that he could make a little money by having it reprinted.

This book was a disappointment, yet also a delight to me. Even since the ‘70s, there have been great changes and improvements in psychiatry and psychology, but since I only knew of the 1980 publish date, I hoped to get some fairly up-to-date insights into mob behavior. The 1841 composer rendered none of that. He only provided recountings of historical events which were notable for mass delusion.

These included the likes of the monetary bubble, collapse of the Louisiana Investment scam/scandal, the sad failure of the earliest attempt at a German Crusade, and the ongoing hysteria of the witch hunts. While the historical details were interesting enough, he delivered them all with the long-winded panache of someone reciting a Life Insurance actuarial table.

With the German Crusade, 100,000 young men were said to have started out, but only a handful survived, even to reach Constantinople, because of fighting among themselves, and with the armies of states and countries they marched through and denuded for food and drink.

As usual, the section on the witch hunts provided the worst atrocities. It was both a Church and State viewpoint that, “Because of the seriousness of this offence, none who are accused of this horrid crime shall escape torture to make them confess their sins. It is better that a million shall die, than that one witch shall be allowed to escape.”

Even while trying to do good, the well-intentioned did bad. As the witch-hunt frenzy was ebbing, a minor member of British Nobility tried an experiment. He was unconvinced that torture-induced confessions, and especially the naming of other witches, was valid.

He was acquainted and friends with, two Jesuit priests who acted as judges at the torture trials. To convince them of his viewpoint, he used a woman accused and imprisoned as a witch. They all attended the torture chamber, and he acted as interrogator. He had the woman stretched on the rack, and afflicted with the gamut of horrible tortures. Within a day, she admitted that she was a witch. Skillfully using leading questions, he also had her claim that the two Jesuits were wizards, calling them by name.

As they left the building, leaving the poor woman to her undeserved fate, the senior priest said, “It is well that this was done by a friend, rather than by an enemy.” And so, the witch-hunt frenzy slowly died, but not before thousands of innocent people also suffered and died.

This book is old enough to display some of the some of the English language’s spelling shifts. Words like ‘showed’, and ‘shown’ were printed as shewed, and shewn. While it was not what I thought I was getting, still it was an interesting read.

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Flash Fiction #192

Mom

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

The more household chores I take on because of the wife’s medical situation, the more I am impressed and amazed at my dear, departed Mother.

Toilets won’t clean themselves. Unattended laundry will not voluntarily enter a washer. My mother ran a house without modern conveniences. Laundry water boiled in a big copper tub on a wood stove. The washing-machine had to be rolled out from a corner. A rinse tub filled with a pail.

Growing up, I thought I ‘did my share’ around the house. I now know that she let me off easy. A woman’s work is never done.

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’19 A To Z Challenge – F

AtoZ2019Letter F

First, I gave you several ‘Seinfeld’ posts, each with 6 or 8 unrelated points, but, essentially about ‘Nothing.’ Then I published several posts titled ‘Shotgun,’ like a shotgun blast, with multiple vignettes, but nothing in the way of a single, solid theme.

I got creative, and coined the word ‘Triviana’ to describe these fractured offerings, because it sounded better than Cheap Smarm and Gossip. I stole researched a theme from an American blogger with the right last name, added a photo of Canadian coinage, and called it Smitty’s Loose Change, because my grip on reality is loose, though I don’t really like change.

Eventually, of course, I found that those with more couth and language capability than me, have a word for my weird submissions. They call them

FACETIAE

humorous or witty sayings
obscene or coarsely witty books

It is NOT related to facet, which is a flat surface on a gem or something similar. It Is related to facetious, which means

facetious

adj.

1590s, from French facétieux , from facétie “a joke” (15c.), from Latin facetia “jest, witticism,” from facetus “witty, elegant, fine, courteous,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to facis “torch.”

It implies a desire to be amusing, often intrusive or ill-timed. Related: Facetiously ; facetiousness . “ Facetiæ in booksellers’ catalogues, is, like curious, a euphemism for erotica.” [Fowler]

So, as you can see, I am very serious about not being very serious. I have faced the challenge of A To Z – F. Now I gallop onward, toward the letter G. See you there.  😀

 

Flash Fiction #190

Pin The Tail

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNCTIONAL ALCOHOLIC

I hate to do it to Dorothy, but I just can’t invite her and Greg to these neighborhood barbecues any more….

SOMEBODY KEEP AN EYE ON THE PUNCH BOWL!!

He’s the only guy I know who spikes the vodka – with tequila. He drinks a beer to instigate getting a shot. If I drank that much, I’d be comatose.

And that foul mouth of his…. I think alcohol shorts out his volume control. Kids in the next subdivision are learning dirty words. I’ve never seen him sober. How does he hold a job?

Somebody should pin a tail on that jackass.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’19 A To Z Challenge – D

Mission Impossible

Good morning Mr. Archon. As you can see from the morning news, rogue governments, like those of the fat little North Korean, and the cheesy-headed fool in Washington, are causing the peoples of the Free Blog-World much distress.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to amaze and amuse, educate and enthrall, to bring harmony and joy back to WordPress. Remember, if you or any member of your Impossible Blog Force are captured or killed, the Secretary will

Disavow

any knowledge of your actions. If you are successful, this Internet series will be made into a bunch of second-rate movies, starring some pint-sized, Bible-thumping fool who jumps on couches while on television, and delights in the pain and suffering of women having babies. This blog post will self-destruct in 30 seconds.

I didn’t sign up fer nun of that capchered or killed shit. I jes wanna sit at this here computer-thingy with a cold beer – or 17.

Secatarie??! I ain’t got no damn secatarie. I gotta type this shit out all by myself. ‘N what’s this ‘disavow’ thing? Do that mean the old lady ‘n I ain’t married no more? I called my spawn, bastards offen enuff. Serve ‘em right if they really was. The wife don’t see thuh irony in calling one of ‘em a ‘son of a bitch.’ I guess that ‘disavow’ thing is kinda thuh same as ‘cover yer ass.’ Typical Guvmint.

I doan wanna git capchered urr kilt, so I’m gonna go do sum research fur a word startin’ with E. I’d like this ass-hindment to go to a second season. Ah know yoo wuz amazed thet ah kin put two words in front of th’other. Howz this fer amuzed??

Happy Place

See ya again soon. 😉

Flash Fiction #189

Signs

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

I’VE SEEN THE SIGNS

When the Europeans came to North America, the natives did not own the land. They felt the concept to be silly. Land was like the air – ever and unending. Groups might squabble about who could live or hunt on some portion of it, but The Great Spirit had put it there for all to share.

The White Man soon taught them about ownership and possession. Corporations and governments, which also didn’t “own” the land, sold chunks of it to groups and individuals. Soon, the walls went up, and then the fences – first stone, then split rail, and finally, wire fences.

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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After the fences came the signs – signs meant “to keep all the other people out, and to keep Mother Nature in.” Click to hear the Five Man Electrical Band decry the restrictive commercialization of our land and society.

Friday Fictioneers

 

Flash Fiction #188

Lilliput

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

His grandfather had this house built, over a century ago. It had been a proud mansion, 2-1/2 stories of fieldstone, a mile and a half from town, dwarfing nearby one-story wooden farm houses.

Times changed. Commerce changed. Businesses started up, and workers moved in. The city changed. Steadily it bloated out towards him, into pristine Mennonite farmland.

Now, the house was the last of its kind, on a busy street, a Lilliputian, towered over by apartment buildings. Developers constantly hounded him to sell. He would mourn the loss of his heritage, but it was time to surrender and move on.

Mennonite

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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Friday Fictioneers