History is a wonderful topic. Learning about how your culture evolved over time, the historic events that created and destroyed empires, and about the famous people who shaped the course of human development is interesting. But should we hold up the writings of our ancestors as immortal, incorruptible words of wisdom?
Progress moves on unabated. You only need to go back a few hundred years to find people who thought the Earth was flat (in fact, just search the Flat Earth Society and you’ll find those people are still around), which we now realise is completely and utterly fucking stupid. What a bunch of idiots! So why do we hold the words of a 2000 year old tome up as the default guide for moral living, which was written when slavery, rape, and poverty were rife? In a similar fashion, why the hell do people still pay attention to Chinese proverbs?
When you break open a fortune cookie and unravel the little piece of paper, expecting to receive the life-altering advice that you’ve waited 27 years for, and instead you get “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket”, you’ve every right to sue the cookie company for gross negligence. If you sit down and analyse any proverb seriously, you’ll realise just how blatantly moronic it really is. I have some examples that I would like to share, complete with a full-spectrum analysis:
Proverb: A bird does not sing because it has answers, a bird sings because it has a song.
Actually, they’re singing for mating rights and territory. While bird song may sound melodious to us, in sparrowspeak they’re actually cracking wise about each other’s fat mommas, or methodically describing how they will kill, skin and cannibalise any babies that are not genetically related. I imagine that Dr Dolittle was slowly driven insane from listening to the degrading filth that is spewed when two mallards start bumping uglies.
Proverb: A book holds a house of gold.
Is that so? Because I just got off the phone with the Royal Institute of British Architects and they told me that books, even architecture books, are not a suitable substitute for building materials. Books get soggy in wet weather, which can make buildings structurally unsafe, especially ones made of gold.
Proverb: A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.
This is all subjective. I find that swear words can be arranged in an aurally pleasing, almost poetic manner. For example, take the phrase “Twat turbine” or “Cock-Loaded Cum Gumbo”. While not exactly Shakespeare, these examples that I just made up certainly beat reading a Dan Brown novel in terms of poise and structure.
Proverb: Do not employ handsome servants
Now this one I can get on board with if those servants are also serving your significant other, especially if your SO has a history of playing away with handsome servants. However, not employing someone based solely on their looks is tantamount to discrimination, and there’s no tribunal in the Western world that wouldn’t sue your arse off. Also, who doesn’t like being waited on by attractive members of the opposite sex? I tried to build my entire lifestyle around that premise, until all my servants decided that they wanted to be paid.
Proverb: Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile
This doesn’t really apply if you open an e-shop.
Proverb: He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who doesn’t ask is a fool for a lifetime
Not since the advent of Wikipedia.
Proverb: If you bow at all, bow low.
That is fantastic advice for people with back conditions. What about people with a poor centre of balance? Bowing low would cause those people to fall forwards and crack their skulls. The ancient Chinese were obviously not very tolerant of any kind of disability. Besides, this proverb seems to suggest that there is no option for a little bow. You could not bow and be incredibly rude, or bow so low you are effectively offering yourself as a footstool. According to the Chinese, there’s no middle ground that can be given. They don’t have a word for “cheers mate”.
So there you have it, conclusive proof that ancient history was full of absent-minded simpletons. It’s rather amazing that we’ve made it this far as a species.