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Jewish World Review May 16, 2001 / 23 Iyar, 5761

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg
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The Angel's Dictionary

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WITH apologies to Ambrose Bierce, author of ``The Devil's Dictionary'':

Art is where religion goes when it is locked out of the soul.

Art is the most common excuse for the lack of it.

Beauty, or the conventional idea of it, is what every new aesthetic movement revolts against -- and the century just past has been the most revolting.

Caricatures of ourselves is what we become as we age.

Celebrity, an American category that replaced hero some time ago.

Computers are machines that can perform almost any mental process except thought.

Charity is what all need and none want.

Death is the thing that waits.

England is the world's best argument against revolution.

Envy is what demagogues use in place of an economic policy.

Excuses are offered when apologies are called for.

Fear, the basest of all emotions, is a brake on all the others.

Fidelity is difficult for those who cannot love, easy for those who can.

Gratitude, the first prayer, is the briefest or most enduring of human emotions, depending on the depth of the particular human.

Ghosts are everywhere for those with a sense of the past, and nowhere for those who live only in the present.

Happiness is best achieved through the pursuit of other aims.

Hating others allows them to dominate our thoughts.

Hitler was the man of the century, which explains a lot about the century. But no one has yet explained Hitler.

History is the most contemporary of arts.

I is the word columnists should avoid.

Inflated currency is the natural consequence of inflated ideas.

Jealousy is the most stupid of human emotions and the surest attribute of the divine.

Knowledge is no substitute for love. And vice versa.

Love gives without asking.

Money is the greatest of servants and the most unrelenting of masters.

Normalcy is the most abnormal of political conditions.

Nationalism, a natural and beneficial reaction of the oppressed, grows artificial and dangerous when they become the oppressors.

Oleaginous is a political style that went out with Everett Dirksen and came back in with Robert Byrd.

Osso bucco is delicious but only if prepared well, and it never is.

Patriotism, like music, may be purest when it is wordless.

Philistinism is a concept unknown to philistines.

Quirky is anyone whose quirks do not match ours.

Race is a social construct sold as a scientific classification.

Revolution is the most futile method of change.

Religion is a common substitute for faith.

Sincerity is the most faked of emotions.

Sinecures are what all denounce and many want.

Simplicity can be the most involved of attainments.

Science is art in the making.

Solitude can be heaven or hell, depending on the company.

Synonyms do not really have the same meaning for those aware of their connotations.

Translations may be the most inventive form of literature, a genre in which much is lost, much is gained, and everything is slightly altered.

Travel broadens the mind or narrows it, depending on the traveler.

Trust is what government squanders.

Ultraconservative is a term popular among those who cannot conceive of ultraliberals.

Vision is the ability to see beyond the visible. Where there is none, word has it, the people perish.

War concentrates the senses and dulls the conscience.

Wisdom is not the acquisition of knowledge but the sum of judgment, perception, instinct and experience -- in short, taste.

Worry is an attenuated form of atheism.

X is unknown only to those who will not reason.

Youth is wasted on the old -- and if you doubt it, take a hard look at those who dress younger than their years.

Zealots are those who (a) disagree with us strongly, or (b) agree with us too strongly. See also: Overzealous.

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