The American writer and journalist Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914) is the author of the Devil’s Dictionary. From this text, very ironic, with raw humor against everything and against all, and that sometimes borders on both the sarcastic and bitter smiles, we select some of the definitions that the ingenuity of its author offers us.
Despite the title, most of the meanings suggested by the northern author, nor so metaphysical, the message he really wishes to make tangible, is not of mephophysical descent. Sadly, even if they have come out of Bierce’s pen, it is mostly humanity, its darkest part (and here it could be said, not infrecaciously diabolical) and the irrational behaviors and actions of men like wolves, that carry the real authorship of these statements and many others in the book.
Abandoned, s. and adj. The one who has no favors to bestow. Devoid of fortune. Friend of truth and common sense.
Aboriginal, s. Low-merit beings that hinder the newly discovered soil. Soon they stop hindering; then, they fertilize.
Administration, s. In politics, ingenious abstraction destined to receive the slaps and kicks that the prime minister and the president deserve. Straw man with rotten eggs and squeals.
Corsair, s. Politician of the seas.
Headquarters, s. Building in which soldiers enjoy some of what professionally strip others.
Dictator, s. Representative of a country that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy.
Economy, s. Buy the barrel of whiskey that is not needed for the price of the cow you do not have.
Elector, s. He who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for a candidate chosen by others.
Exiled, s. The one who serves his country by living abroad, without being an ambassador.
Finance, s. Art or science of managing income and resources for the greatest convenience of adminis-trador.
Border, s. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations that separates imaginary rights from one, from the imaginary rights of the other.
Future, s. When our affairs thrive, our friends are loyal and our happiness is assured.
Man, s. Animal so immersed in the ecstatic contemplation of what he thinks he is, that he forgets what he should undoubtedly be. Its main occupation is the extermination of other animals and their own species which, despite this, multiplies so quickly that it has infested the entire habitable world, besides Canada.
Insurrection, s. Failed Revolution. Failure of opponents who seek to replace a bad government with a deastrous one.
Justice, s. Article more or less adulterated that the State sells to the citizen in exchange for his loyalty, taxes and personal services.
Malhechor, s. The main factor in the progress of the human race.
Ordered, adj. Subject to order, like a seditious hanging from a bluff.
Patriot, s. The one who considers the interests of the party to be superior to the interests of the whole. Toy of politicians and instrument of conquerors.
Plebiscite, s. Popular vote to establish the will of the master.
Politics, s. Conflict of interest disguised as a struggle of principle. Management of public interests for private gain.
Senate, s. Body of elders that performs high functions and misdeeds.
Truthful, adj. Silly and illiterate.
Vote, s. Instrument and symbol of the faculty of the free man to make himself a fool and his country a ruin. Ω
Taken from Ambrose Bierce: Devil’s Dictionary, Havana, Editorial Art and Literature, Argos Collection, 2017.