George Mikes reflections and thoughts
George Mikes reflections and thoughts

I am no cynic, and do believe in quite a few things: for example, in the power of books written in London by ex-refugees, I have in mind, primarily, my colleagues Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, whose works (although more boring than mine) made quite an impression on the world… Natives such as Charles Darwin have sometimes done quite well, and so have a few outright foreigners, such as Copernicus with his On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres and Galileo with Siderius Nuncius. All the above writers changed the fate of humanity, the author of the present volume (that’s me) is quite prepared to make a lesser impact. But here it is: a message of hope, of optimism, of making the most of life. Here it is: a thesis that proclaims happiness, or at least contentment, to be within the reach of everyone. One you have grabbed a little contentment, satisfaction, good humour and optimism, do not be ashamed of it, as most intellectuals seem to be, and do not throw it out of the window. But whether you do or not is up to you. I have given my recipe.
George Mikes

Understatement springs from the English character: and having become second nature it also contributes now to the formation or development of the English character. As I said, it is not only a joke, not always a joke and, occasionally, it is very much the opposite of a joke… The whole rhythm of life in England is understatement; their suppression of emotion is understatement; their under reaction to everything, the polite word instead of the expletive (when the latter would help so much more to clean the air), the stiff upper lip, the very climate with its absence of extremes, all these are understatement.
George Mikes

Religion – every religion – is based on fear: fear of death. So as religion is generally regarded as a Good Thing, cowardice must be a Good Thing, too. Fear – or call it Cowardice – is one of our most useful traits. Without fear, without the instinct of self-preservation, no species could survive. No one could remain alive if he were not a coward to some extent. Let us all turn heroes and the human race will perish. But as the human race is going to perish, in any case, in a few million years if not sooner, this change would not really affect the outcome, only its timing.
George Mikes

Life for others is life; for me it is raw material. I know of course that if someone kicks a humorist in the… well, anywhere, it will hurt him exactly as it hurts other people. But the humorist sits down after a while, writes down his experiences in a distorted form in which he is either the hero or the maltreated victim, whereupon he feels all square with the world. I do not quite know why this should give us satisfaction but it does. Writing keeps us from more criminal activities. A new work is our just revenge on the world.
George Mikes

Only a sense of humour can make a man see (more or less) his proper place in this world. Certainty and cocksureness are incompatible with a sense of humour. Humour means scepticism and doubt in everything: in all established values, virtues, habits, sacred dogmas and even facts: and first of all in oneself. It is scepticism and doubt which have been mostly responsible for progress. A sense of humour is maturity and wisdom: and there is no maturity and no wisdom without a sense of humour.
George Mikes

Sigmund Freud said many profound, revealing and often frightening thing about God, and also about Mothers; yet he failed to see the connection between the two. The first God in every baby’s life is its mother. She is the Universal Explanation, the Great Protector, the Stern Disciplinarian, the Source of all Wisdom and the Supreme Guide. God was not born of a virgin, but all virgins, male and female, are born of a God. When the growing human child realises, to his sorrow and bewilderment, that his mother is not God, he starts searching for a substitute God: a plain-clothes God or a God in disguise.
George Mikes

Humanity created God and it could kill her off. But murder is a nasty business and God deserves a better fate. She has served us well. No, She must not be treated unkindly. She should be retired. Voluntarily redundancy would be preferable but if She insists on going on She must be pensioned off. Her activities, Her interference with our lives must cease, because humanity must slowly grow up. Perhaps it never will but it ought to. Let,s let God go on with the everlasting life in peaceful retirement. Let Her enjoy Herself. Some people will still care for her, will still pray to Her, with luck enough of them to keep her happy. We want Her to be happy, content. She was the best God we had. But the all-powerful, revengeful, whimsical, thunderous and Humourless Almighty should be transformed into the Eternal Old Age Pensioner. Amen.
George Mikes

Luckily, I can answer some of the most tormenting questions of philosophy. 1) What is the aim of life ? The answer is: nothing. 2) What happens to us after death? The answer again: nothing. Let me explain. Life has no universal aim. We are not here to celebrate the Glory of God. We have not been created ad majoram Dei gloriam. God cannot be quite so modest as to find the performance of humanity the proof of final glory and majesty. But if life has no universal aim, it does have, it should have, a specific aim. The aim of your life is what you make it to be.
George Mikes

“Why did I become a humorous writer instead of, say, an aggressive revolutionary for which my dislike of authority might well have predestined me? I do, of course, have the humorous outlook…., but I also choose to speak the truth – as I see it – in a comic manner because I do not dare to take it seriously, like the court jester of another age, I want to protect myself against the wrath of my victims by the cry: “I was only joking.”
George Mikes

I believe in Pure Logic. I believe in the Sanctity of Reason. I loathe all superstition…..If someone wishes to believe that God created humanity as the crowning glory of the Universe, if he wishes to believe that nothing matters in those many thousand million years through which the Universe existed than those two million or so years during which a species which calls itself Homo sapiens has graced and will continue to grace ( or disgrace ) a provincial planet, let him do so.
George Mikes

But it does follow, that we must treasure our vices and be cautious with our good characteristics because one could not exist without the other. It does follow that judging yourself or others you must not think of separable mental ingredients, but of the mixture only.
Beware of kindness or rather do not trust it implicitly because in a bad mixture it may only cover a weakling and a liar.
Beware of too much sincerity and open heartedness; chatterboxes seem often very sincere.
Beware of promises; they are often given to please you to-day and not to be kept to-morrow.
Beware of fanatics: they are usually frustrated fools who do not even believe in their own doctrines.
Beware of too much¬† chastity; because it is often practised and preached by people who would have liked to sin but could not. Do not turn your back on rude people without knowing a little more about them; they are often truthful and outspoken. Do not reject unkind people, just because they have the courage to say “no”.
George Mikes

Ancient kings used to rule by the Grace of God. Modern democratic governments rule by the grace of the radio and television. Every ancient revolution started by expropriating the gods: every modern revolution starts with an attempt at seizing the radio station. Give me the radio stations and a hundred able propagandists and in two months I shall (a) turn Switzerland communist: (b) persuade all the inhabitants of Honduras to dye their hair red and persecute those who refuse to do so and (c) persuade the kirgiz republic of the U.S.S.R. To ask for permission to join the U.S. as its forty-ninth member state (to persuade the United States to accept them would take a little longer and cost more.) Our society is a free society. In a free society you are allowed to say what you think. But you are not allowed to think.
George Mikes

The Utility Man does not need to think, which is a great comfort. In the old times you wrote your opinion to the newspaper; to-day you read your opinion in the newspaper… the problem of illiteracy has been completely solved: a great number of people do not know how to read (even when they happen to know the alphabet), but any child of three knows how to push the buttom of the television… The appearance of the Utility Man may solve one of the outstanding problem of our age: the problem of individual rights. In ancient times there were individuals but they had no rights: to-day we have rights but there are no individuals. (in some parts of the world a degree of perfection has been reached: there are neither individuals nor rights – so the problem just does not seem to exist.
George Mikes

To hold that something expressed with pomposity, in complicated sentences full of Graeco-Roman jargon must be profound (sometimes it is), while something expressed in a lighthearted, readable and entertaining manner must be superficial and trivial (it can be) is no better than loving beetroot because it is red and rejecting lettuce because it is green. Or put it in another way. Medecine must often be bitter. But the pill may be sweetened, and it is possible for a sugared pill to be just as curative as a bitter and revolting one. And it is pleasanter to swallow.
George Mikes

Whatever any philosopher has said in the past has always been contradicted at once by other philosophers who not only tried to refute his theses, but also called him an ass (usually, but not always, in polite language). A great many brilliant and inspiring things have been said which remained brilliant and inspiring regardless of whether they were right or wrong. Throughout the history of philosophy, what was said has always been less important than how it was said. Dazzling arguments leading to false conclusions have always carried more weight and been more celebrated than sound thinking served up in a sauce of dullness. But there is more important reason for persevering. You cannot convince, still less convert, anyone – that is true. People will always choose the philosophy the seeds of which they have been carrying in their souls or brains. But perhaps mine is the philosophy the seeds of which you are carrying ?
George Mikes

Carl William Brown’s University Dissertation on George Mikes and the humor phenomenon.¬†

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George Mikes reflections ultima modifica: 2018-07-14T18:22:42+00:00 da Carl William Brown