Humpty Dumpty
Posted: 01 April 2011 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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For the curious, Humpty Dumpty is not just a character or a riddle in a nursery rhyme. There are fascinating issues of origin, legal and philosophical interpretations related to this colorful eggy character.

From the wiki on Humpty Dumpty

The rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Origins of the riddle:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term “humpty dumpty” referred to a drink of brandy boiled with ale in the seventeenth century. The riddle probably exploited, for misdirection, the fact that “humpty dumpty” was also eighteenth-century reduplicative slang for a short and clumsy person. The riddle may depend on the assumption that, whereas a clumsy person falling off a wall might not be irreparably damaged, an egg would be.

The philosophical Humpty Dumpty:

Humpty appears in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1872), where he discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice.

  “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
  Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
  “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
  “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
  “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
  “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master     that’s all.”

Legal implications:

This passage was used in Britain by Lord Atkin and in his dissenting judgement in the seminal case Liversidge v. Anderson (1942), where he protested about the distortion of a statute by the majority of the House of Lords. It also became a popular citation in United States legal opinions, appearing in 250 judicial decisions in the Westlaw database as of April 19, 2008, including two Supreme Court cases (TVA v. Hill and Zschernig v. Miller).

LOL

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Posted: 07 April 2011 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yep. I’m not sure where I read it (The Road? Chuck Palahniuk?), but a lot of old fairy tales and nursery rhymes were cleverly disguised attacks on the Powers That Be. It’s funny how they lost all those layers of meanings over the centuries - now all that brilliant political satire turned into cheap entertainment for children…

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Posted: 08 April 2011 03:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Grigory - 07 April 2011 09:31 AM

Yep. I’m not sure where I read it (The Road? Chuck Palahniuk?), but a lot of old fairy tales and nursery rhymes were cleverly disguised attacks on the Powers That Be. It’s funny how they lost all those layers of meanings over the centuries - now all that brilliant political satire turned into cheap entertainment for children…

From this website on the Secret History of the Nursery Rhyme

Many of the origins of the humble nursery rhyme are believed to be associated with, or reflect, actual events in history! The secret meanings of the Nursery Rhyme have been lost in the passing of time. A nursery rhyme was often used to parody the royal and political events and people of the day. The humble Rhyme was used as a seemingly innocent vehicle to quickly spread subversive messages!

How about this:

From the wiki on Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times is a book by James Finn Garner, published in 1994, in which Garner satirizes the trend toward political correctness and censorship of children’s literature, with an emphasis on humor and parody.

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Posted: 08 April 2011 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well hell don’t that hit it right on the nail head.

kkwan - 01 April 2011 05:05 PM

  “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
  “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
  “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master   that’s all.”

~ ~ ~

Grigory - 07 April 2011 09:31 AM

It’s funny how they lost all those layers of meanings over the centuries - now all that brilliant political satire turned into cheap entertainment for children…

We got Walt Disney to thank for that… i hear he was a rabid rightwinger too.

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