If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Wednesday 25 April 2012
A conservative is someone who believes in reform. But not now.
Mort Sahl (May 11, 1927 – )
I actually saw Mort Sahl once at the hungry i in San Francisco’s North Beach when I was a student at U.C. Berkeley in the late fifties. He was, as they say, mordant to a tee – an edgier Woody Allen, sort of! And I remember him has having a peerless sense of perfect timing.
He did fall out of favor as the political climate changed, but at his prime he was a caustically comic comedian, right up there with Lenny Bruce.
As a comedian skewering the day’s foibles and follies, he was certainly very popular among the college crowd, and even John Kennedy was said to have had a chuckle or two over some of the things Sahl said.
In the epigraph, one recognizes a spirit of spin synched to a much, much earlier quondam gadabout and ‘commentator’ – St. Augustine (354-431 CE). In his Confessiones he says (8.7.17), “[petieram a te castitatem et dixeram,] `da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo.’”. His actual words are usually translated as, “Make me pure … but not yet!” The Latin actually states the following: “[I’d asked you – viz., God — for pureness and said] ‘Give me pureness and restraint … but don’t do it quite yet.’” Close enough for government work!
Not of course that I think of old St. Augustine as an especially funny guy, but that prayer does betray a rather attractive sense of self-irony … and shared humanity with all of us helplessly appetitive sinners today, whether conservatives or not …