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Posts Tagged ‘advice

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety”*…

 

advice

 

What should a woman do when her husband chooses to spend time with his new pet monkey, rather than sleep with her? How does one counsel the mother who is so concerned about her daughter’s girlfriend that she’s considering casting a spell as a last resort? What about the wife who walks in on her husband of 23 years having sex with her brother? And what of the more mundane issues? Say, family squabbles over coarse behavior, or an ambivalent heart?

For more than half a century, Dear Abby—America’s longest-running advice column, first penned by Pauline Phillips under the pseudonym Abigail van Buren, and today by her daughter, Jeanne—has offered counsel to thousands of worried and conflicted readers. Syndicated in more than 1,200 newspapers at the height of its popularity, it offers an unprecedented look at the landscape of worries that dominate US life. The column has been continuously in print since 1956. No other source in popular culture has elicited so many Americans to convey their earnest concerns for so long…

The good folks at The Pudding have pored through 20,000 letters to the advice columnist tell us about what—and who—concerns us most: “30 Years of American Anxieties.”

For another fascinating example of the work at The Pudding, see “A brief history of the past 100 years as told through the New York Times archives.”

* Aesop

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As we agonize over anguish, we might recall that it was on this date in 1933 that Blondie Boopapdoop (her surname derived from the 1928 song “I Wanna Be Loved by You”) and Dagwood Bumstead were married in Chic Young’s comic strip, Blondie.

The strip had started in 1930 as a chronicle of the adventures of Blondie, a carefree flapper who spent her days in dance halls along with her boyfriend Dagwood, heir to a railroad fortune.  Dagwood’s parents strongly disapproved of the match, and disinherited him, leaving him only with a check to pay for their honeymoon.  Thus, the Bumsteads were forced to become a middle-class suburban family.  As the catalog for a University of Florida 2005 exhibition, “75 Years of Blondie, 1930–2005,” notes:

Blondie’s marriage marked the beginning of a change in her personality. From that point forward, she gradually assumed her position as the sensible head of the Bumstead household. And Dagwood, who previously had been cast in the role of straight man to Blondie’s comic antics, took over as the comic strip’s clown.

Blondie source

 

Written by LW

February 17, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger”*…

 

Know Thyself

An anonymous 17th-century allegorical painting inscribed Nosce te Ipsum (Know thyself)

 

We all know the most famous bit of ancient advice inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: Know thyself. It’s a powerful and daunting recommendation. If you take it seriously, you will begin to push through all of the misconceptions you have, not only about yourself but about human beings generally. You will begin to think deeply about who you really are and who you ought to be. You might start making life-altering decisions, decisions that (if you are right) bring you into harmony with your nature and your circumstances, or (if you are wrong) turn your life into a big mistake. There should be little wonder that this one command is the highest command of all philosophy: follow it like a religious law, and – one way or another – you will be a great philosopher.

But this powerful command is in fact just one of some 147 apophthegmata (pithy words of wisdom) inscribed upon a stone monument at Delphi. It’s not clear where these lesser-known maxims came from. The ancient compiler Stobaeus attributed them to the Seven Sages – wise men of the sixth century BCE, such as Solon and Thales – but maybe they were generated in the same hazy way that all instances of folk wisdom (sticks and stones, stitch in time, etc) are generated, and then set in stone for the benefit of later seekers of wisdom – such as us.

Some of these maxims are, for us, complete nonstarters…

Appraise the advise at “More than ‘know thyself’: on all the other Delphic maxims.”

* variously attributed to Mark Twain, Abbie Hoffman, and Aardvark Magazine

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As we wonder about wisdom, we might send well-worded birthday greetings to Samuel Johnson; he was born on this date in 1709.  A poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer, Johnson’s best-known work was surely  A Dictionary of the English Language, which he published in 1755, after nine years work– and which served as the standard for 150 years (until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary).  But Dr. Johnson, as he was known, is probably best remembered as the subject of what Walter Jackson Bate noted is “the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature”: James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson.  A famous aphorist, Johnson was the very opposite of a man he described to Boswell in 1784: “He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others.”

Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of Dr. Johnson

source

 

Written by LW

September 18, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Childhood is the sleep of reason”*…

 

Scene of a “crèche”– an industrial day care center– with a productive factory in the background.

The images above and below, originally printed in 1930, reflect the government’s promotion of early-childhood health and well-being in the early years of the Soviet Union. The London School of Economics Library has collected a group of these posters—half brightly-colored, half sepia-toned—in a Flickr set.

In her book about childhood in Russia during the early Soviet period, historian Lisa Kirschenbaum writes that children and childhood were ideologically important to those involved in the Bolshevik Revolution. Children had the potential to grow into ideal communists, and communal early childhood education was seen as a good way of getting all members of the rising generation to hold consistent views. (In the United States, the conservative opposition to attempts to institute government support for day care in the early 1970s often referred, obliquely or explicitly, to the communalism of Soviet child care.)

By 1930, when these images were produced, the government-supported day care (or “crèche”) was doubly politically important, since young mothers were encouraged to work. In these posters, babies that look to be about 6 months old cry “I’m bored at home!” and beg to be taken to the crèche.

L: “I’m bored at home!” R: “I’m happy in the crèche!”

More– from “how to hold a baby” to “preparation of juice from raw fruits”– at the ever-illuminating Rebecca Onion’s “Government Child Care Advice From Early Soviet Propaganda Posters.”

* Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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As we crib up on cribs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1889 that an estimated 3,000 spectators boarded special trains for a secret location, which turned out to be Richburg, a town just south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to attend the Heavyweight Boxing Championship match between defender John L. Sullivan and challenger Jake Kilrain.  The fight began at 10:30 p.m.; early on, it appeared that Sullivan would lose (especially after he vomited during the 44th round). But the champion got his second wind after that, and Kilrain’s manager finally threw in the towel after the 75th round.  The match was the last world title bout fought under the London Prize Ring Rules— and thus, the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title bout.  And it was one of the first American sporting events to receive national press coverage.

John L. Sullivan (L) and Jake Kilrain

 

 

Written by LW

July 8, 2014 at 1:01 am

WWMMD?…

Readers may have have found themselves in difficult spots and wondered, as your correspondent has, What Would Matthew McConaughey Do?

Thankfully, help is now at hand.  A new site, thoughtfully titled What Would Matthew McConaughey Do?, dispenses wisdom-on-demand, as exampled in these responses to seekers past…

Q:  Is it better to be loved or feared?

A: Loved. I’m loved by women in rural Tajikistan trying to achieve agrarian reform; I’m loved by women in Swaziland, fighting for the right to inherit property; I’m loved by women in Papua New Guinea who simply want a man that’s taller than 5’1– and doesn’t indulge in male insemination rituals.

Q:  Best hair product?

A:  I’m working on one now. It contains African cacao extract, caviar age-control complex, photozyme complex with “color hold,” white truffle oil, Champagne grape seed oil, Bulgarian Evening Primrose and Arabian Frankincense. The shampoo is inspired by enzyme therapy, and can be used to treat conditions ranging from digestive problems to cancer. It will retail for $745/bottle.

Q:  Would you dive into a pile of snakes?

A:  Hell YES, particularly if the lives of women and children were at stake. Of course, when you say ‘dive,’ I assume you mean ‘tear into’ and ‘through,’ not necessarily plummet into, correct? The last time I deliberately plummeted, it was into thin air, over the skies of Mozambique, and I had a flash back of childhood, in Texas, surrounded by Native American women, in a trance-like state, sweating, beading sweat, invoking the name of the Wind God Yaponcha…but I digress.

Q:  I am gay and lonely and can’t seem to find the right guy…  any ideas?

A:  Nope.

Consult the oracle at  What Would Matthew McConaughey Do?

As we revel in the reassurance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1992 that physicist Stephen Hawking set a British publishing record when his explanatory volume A Brief History of Time remained on the best-seller list for the 182nd week in a row (over 3 million copies in 22 languages).  Still in print, the sales count is currently over 10 million.

source

 

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