Now that we have moved on, in the Multicultural calendar from Halloween to Thanksgiving, (and don't you just love the family photo of the Skeleton family celebrating Thanksgiving?), and in the warm after glow of this week's past visit by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, I thought that I might start off this second installment of my guide to 'The Devil's Dictionary', by reinforcing the idea that we have our own political turkey in Australia, Tony Abbott, that we can give thanks for.
We must see that, in the spirit of turkeys everywhere, he is not as stupid as he looks and behaves. In fact, he is willing to go where no political turkey has gone before. As we have seen this week. There is no political convention that he is unwilling to rip to shreds with his sharp claws, such as this week's effort to keep his name in the news by abandoning bipartisan protocol relating to the speeches given by Opposition Leaders to visiting Heads of State. Just so that he may remain the story, and not the government. As he appears to go by the Post Truth Politics political dictum that, 'No publicity is bad publicity.'
Anyway, let us continue to give thanks to Tony Abbott, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal, Always Opposition:
ECCENTRICITY, n. A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity.
I've heard it said that Tony Abbott is a very eccentric character. EDITOR, n. A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.
O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought,
A gilded impostor is he.
Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought,
His crown is brass,
Himself an ass,
And his power is fiddle-dee-dee.
Prankily, crankily prating of naught,
Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought.
Public opinion's camp-follower he,
Thundering, blundering, plundering free.
An hilarious Ode to News Ltd Editors Everywhere, I thought.
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
A fact which is exemplified by the knowledge that, despite his stellar education, Mr Abbott just doesn't seem to understand much.
EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
Megaceph, chosen to serve the State
In the halls of legislative debate,
One day with all his credentials came
To the capitol's door and announced his name.
The doorkeeper looked, with a comical twist
Of the face, at the eminent egotist,
And said: "Go away, for we settle here
All manner of questions, knotty and queer,
And we cannot have, when the speaker demands
To be told how every member stands,
A man who to all things under the sky
Assents by eternally voting 'I'."
ELECTOR, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice.
ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the colour that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any colour appear white.
Which proof is in the pudding of Tony Abbott's creation.
ENCOMIAST, n. A special (but not particular) kind of liar.
Politics in Australia has never before seen the like of Tony Abbott, a self-confessed liar that the category 'Post Truth Politics' seems to have been created for.
ENVY, n. Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity.
ERUDITION, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.
So wide his erudition's mighty span,
He knew Creation's origin and plan
And only came by accident to grief —
He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief.
EULOGY, n. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
We see him here, we hear him over there, we see and hear Tony Abbott giving eulogies to the wealthy and powerful everywhere.
FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
FASHION, n. A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.
A king there was who lost an eye
In some excess of passion;
And straight his courtiers all did try
To follow the new fashion.
Each dropped one eyelid when before
The throne he ventured, thinking
Twould please the king. That monarch swore
He'd slay them all for winking.
What should they do? They were not hot
To hazard such disaster;
They dared not close an eye — dared not
See better than their master.
Seeing them lacrymose and glum,
A leech consoled the weepers:
He spread small rags with liquid gum
And covered half their peepers.
The court all wore the stuff, the flame
Of royal anger dying.
That's how court-plaster got its name
Unless I'm greatly lying.
I am a Republican for this reason. I can no more tug the forelock than jump off a cliff because someone tells me to.
FIB, n. A lie that has not cut its teeth. An habitual liar's nearest approach to truth: the perigee of his eccentric orbit.
When David said: "All men are liars,"
Himself a liar, fibbed like any thief.
Perhaps he thought to weaken disbelief
By proof that even himself was not a slave
To Truth; though I suspect the aged knave
Had been of all her servitors the chief
Had he but known a fig's reluctant leaf
Is more than e'er she wore on land or wave.
No, David served not Naked Truth when he
Struck that sledge-hammer blow at all his race;
Nor did he hit the nail upon the head:
For reason shows that it could never be,
And the facts contradict him to his face.
Men are not liars all, for some are dead.
FLESH, n. The Second Person of the secular Trinity.
FLOP, v. Suddenly to change one's opinions and go over to another party. The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our partisan journals.
The brother of Flip. Might I also observe that politicians these days don't even bother to change parties or resign when they obviously flip-flop.
FOLLY, n. That "gift and faculty divine" whose creative and controlling energy inspires Man's mind, guides his actions and adorns his life.
Folly! although Erasmus praised thee once
In a thick volume, and all authors known,
If not thy glory yet thy power have shown,
Deign to take homage from thy son who hunts
Through all thy maze his brothers, fool and dunce,
To mend their lives and to sustain his own,
However feebly be his arrows thrown.
Someone needs to write a book called: 'The Folly of Tony Abbott'.
FOOL, n. A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity. He is omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscience, omnipotent. He it was who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences. He created patriotism and taught the nations war — founded theology, philosophy, law, medicine and Chicago. He established monarchical and republican government. He is from everlasting to everlasting — such as creation's dawn beheld he fooleth now. In the morning of time he sang upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the procession of being. His grandmotherly hand was warmly tucked-in the set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man's evening meal of milk-and-morality and turns down the covers of the universal grave. And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human civilisation.
FORGETFULNESS, n. A gift of God bestowed upon doctors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
It is also the same gift Tony Abbott thinks God bestowed upon him too.
FREEDOM, n. Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.
FRIENDSHIP, n. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.
GENEROUS, adj. Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.
GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust — to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.
GRAMMAR, n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.
Included for the Grammar Nazis. :)
GRAPE, n. Hail noble fruit! — by Homer sung,
Anacreon and Khayyam;
Thy praise is ever on the tongue
Of better men than I am.
The lyre in my hand has never swept,
The song I cannot offer:
My humbler service pray accept —
I'll help to kill the scoffer.
The water-drinkers and the cranks
Who load their skins with liquor —
I'll gladly bear their belly-tanks
And tap them with my sticker.
Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools
When e'er we let the wine rest.
Here's death to Prohibition's fools,
And every kind of vine-pest!
For those who like a drop of fermented grape juice, to sing next time they are 'in wine'.
GRAVE, n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.
Included for Ad Astra. :)
HABIT, n. A shackle for the free.
HAND, n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody's pocket.
HAPPINESS, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
I guess that's why we see Tony Abbott smile so much.
HARANGUE, n. A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harangue-outang.
Too often occurring via Tony Abbott Censure Motions in federal parliament.
HATRED, n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.
See above. In fact, you just have to tune in to the Opposition any day of the week to see this on open display.
HEAVEN, n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.
HISTORIAN, n. A broad-gauge gossip.
HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
Remember John Howard's 'History Wars'?
HONORABLE, adj. Afflicted with an impediment in one's reach. In legislative bodies it is customary to mention all members as honourable; as, "the honourable gentleman is a scurvy cur."
HOPE, n. Desire and expectation rolled into one.
Delicious Hope! when naught to man it left —
Of fortune destitute, of friends bereft;
When even his dog deserts him, and his goat
With tranquil disaffection chews his coat
While yet it hangs upon his back; then thou,
The star far-flaming on thine angel brow,
Descendest, radiant, from the skies to hint
The promise of a clerkship in the Mint.
HOUSE, n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus and microbe.
HYPOCRITE, n. One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.
IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.
IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.
Now, back to work and stop reading this!
IGNORAMUS, n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about.
ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction.
Is this why they put the illustrious on a pedestal?
IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.
IMMODEST, adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with a feeble conception of worth in others.
Sigh. Tony Abbott.
IMPARTIAL, adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two conflicting opinions.
IMPOSTOR, n. A rival aspirant to public honours.
The biggest imposter in Australian politics is Tony Abbott. I guess I didn't really need to say that, it was self-evident.
His tale he told with a solemn face
And a tender, melancholy grace.
Improbable 'twas, no doubt,
When you came to think it out,
But the fascinated crowd
Their deep surprise avowed
And all with a single voice averred
'Twas the most amazing thing they'd heard —
All save one who spake never a word,
But sat as mum
As if deaf and dumb,
Serene, indifferent and unstirred.
Then all the others turned to him
And scrutinized him limb from limb —
Scanned him alive;
But he seemed to thrive
And tranquiler grow each minute,
As if there were nothing in it.
"What! what!" cried one, "are you not amazed
At what our friend has told?"
Soberly then his eyes and gazed
In a natural way
And proceeded to say,
As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:
"O no — not at all; I'm a liar myself."
IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.
INCOME, n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of respectability, the commonly accepted standards being artificial, arbitrary and fallacious; for, as "Sir Sycophas Chrysolater" in the play has justly remarked, "the true use and function of property (in whatsoever it consisteth — coins, or land, or houses, or merchant-stuff, or anything which may be named as holden of right to one's own subservience) as also of honours, titles, preferments and place, and all favor and acquaintance of persons of quality or ableness, are but to get money. Hence it followeth that all things are truly to be rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness to that end; and their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto, neither the lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient, nor he who bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of a king, being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of daily accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and rightly take more honour than the poor and unworthy."
INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
INDIGESTION, n. A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind. As the simple Red Man of the western wild put it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force: "Plenty well, no pray; big bellyache, heap God."
INEXPEDIENT, adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests.
INFLUENCE, n. In politics, a visionary quo given in exchange for a substantial quid.
INNATE, adj. Natural, inherent — as innate ideas, that is to say, ideas that we are born with, having had them previously imparted to us. The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible to disproof, though Locke foolishly supposed himself to have given it "a black eye." Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in one's ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one's diseases.
It seems that, even 100 years ago, people were wise to the ways of the Newspaper Editor.
INSURANCE, n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.
A lot of people in Queensland found this out the hard way this year.
INSURRECTION, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute misrule for bad government.
An unsuccessful 'People's Revolution'?
INVENTOR, n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
ITCH, n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.
Or A West Australian.
JESTER, n. An officer formerly attached to a king's household, whose business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume. The king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of all mankind. The jester was commonly called a fool, but the poets and romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise and witty person. In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the patrician sense of humour and tapped the tank of royal tears.
I couldn't have described Tony Abbott better myself.
JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.
KINDNESS, n. A brief preface to ten volumes of exaction.
Or, the performance Tony Abbott puts on before he bares his teeth, yet again, during one of the interminable number of Censure Motions in federal parliament, which have become just another debased tool in his box of political tricks, wholly without substance or meaning any more.
LANGUAGE, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure.
It has been said that Tony Abbott uses language very well.
LAUGHTER, n. An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable.
A better description for the maniacal cackle that Tony Abbott emits I have yet to read.
LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.
LIAR, n. A lawyer with a roving commission.
I'll just add this note to the effect that Tony Abbott studied Law and Economics at Sydney University. His Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, has just finished a Masters of Law. Which does not mean that either of them use the law to the best effect. In fact, they obey the letter of the law with respect to prevarication.
LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions.
The rising People, hot and out of breath,
Roared around the palace: "Liberty or death!"
"If death will do," the King said, "let me reign;
You'll have, I'm sure, no reason to complain."
LICKSPITTLE, n. A useful functionary, not infrequently found editing a newspaper. In his character of editor he is closely allied to the blackmailer by the tie of occasional identity; for in truth the lickspittle is only the blackmailer under another aspect, although the latter is frequently found as an independent species.
LITIGATION, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
LOGOMACHY, n. A war in which the weapons are words and the wounds punctures in the swim-bladder of self-esteem — a kind of contest in which, the vanquished being unconscious of defeat, the victor is denied the reward of success.
LONGANIMITY, n. The disposition to endure injury with meek forbearance while maturing a plan of revenge.
I think Julia Gillard is adept at this.
MACE, n. A staff of office signifying authority. Its form, that of a heavy club, indicates its original purpose and use in dissuading from dissent.
MACHINATION, n. The method employed by one's opponents in baffling one's open and honourable efforts to do the right thing.
So plain the advantages of machination
It constitutes a moral obligation,
And honest wolves who think upon't with loathing
Feel bound to don the sheep's deceptive clothing.
So prospers still the diplomatic art,
And Satan bows, with hand upon his heart.
Look, I don't even have to make plain who this description applies to, to a 'T'.
MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual.
I'll be equal opportunity commenter here and say, draw your own conclusions about who is, and isn't, mad in our parliaments. I'd like to hear your suggestions.
MAGIC, n. An art of converting superstition into coin.
The Climate Change Deniers say it about the Climate Change Believers, and the Climate Change Believers say it about the Climate Change Deniers.
MAGNIFICENT, adj. Having a grandeur or splendour superior to that to which the spectator is accustomed, as the ears of an ass, to a rabbit, or the glory of a glow worm, to a maggot.
MAGPIE, n. A bird whose thievish disposition suggested to someone that it might be taught to talk.
MALEFACTOR, n. The chief factor in the progress of the human race.
MAMMON, n. The god of the world's leading religion.
MAN, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.
Now, this was written 100 years ago, when Americans detested Canadians with a passion. And nothing's changed in 100 years!
MANICHEISM, n. The ancient Persian doctrine of an incessant warfare between Good and Evil. When Good gave up the fight the Persians joined the victorious Opposition.
Our Opposition just joined the opposition from the get-go.
MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
Which makes the case for Same Sex Marriage very simply.
ME, pro. The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive. Each is all three.
MEEKNESS, n. Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worthwhile.
MENDACIOUS, adj. Addicted to rhetoric.
MERCHANT, n. One engaged in a commercial pursuit. A commercial pursuit is one in which the thing pursued is a dollar.
I like to refer to the ways of the Oligarchs and Kleptocrats in the 21st Century as, 'The New Mercantilism'.
MERCY, n. An attribute beloved of detected offenders.
MESMERISM, n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner.
Julie Bishop should just change her nickname to 'Mesmer', as she follows her leaders so slavishly.
METROPOLIS, n. A stronghold of provincialism.
MILLENNIUM, n. The period of a thousand years when the lid is to be screwed down, with all reformers on the under side.
MIND, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavour to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
MINE, adj. Belonging to me if I can hold or seize it.
MINISTER, n. An agent of a higher power with a lower responsibility. In diplomacy and officer sent into a foreign country as the visible embodiment of his sovereign's hostility. His principal qualification is a degree of plausible inveracity next below that of an ambassador.
As of today I'm going to start using the term, 'plausible inveracity' instead of 'plausible deniability'. It's much more apt under the circumstances we find ourselves in in politics at this point in time, with the Leader of the Opposition that we have.
MINOR, adj. Less objectionable.
Is that what people mean when they talk about 'Minor Miners'? As I would not say that Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest is less objectionable than the Major Minors, I think he is more so.
MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.
MOUTH, n. In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart.
MUGWUMP, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt.
MULTITUDE, n. A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue. In a republic, the object of the statesman's adoration. "In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom," sayeth the proverb. If many men of equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting together. Whence comes it? Obviously from nowhere — as well say that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains composing it. A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.
'Convoy of No Consequence', or the 'Occupy' protests? I guess it depends who you ask.
MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later. Well, that's enough for now. Half of the alphabet and plenty to chew on. I'll pore over the other half of the alphabet for next week. I'm pretty sure it will provide just as much amusement and edification.
What do you think?