In the guise of a joke

In the guise of a joke

Sima Qian 司馬遷 (c. 145-86 BC) seems to have been the first historian to speak of the jester’s role, including the key characteristic of using their freedom and humour to offer advice or criticism.   For example, he describes the jester You Meng 優孟 (Jester Meng)...
Some subjects are so serious

Some subjects are so serious

A succinct and provocative statement by Niels Bohr, flying in the face of the common supposition that the more serious the subject the less appropriate it is to joke about it.  It also echoes an equally pithy quotation, from Hemingway’s For Whom the Bells Toll. ...
My horse, my horse

My horse, my horse

Jester Meng 優孟 is one of the Chinese jesters immortalized in what may be the world’s first historical study of jesters, by China’s Herodotus Sima Qian 司馬遷 (c. 145-86 BC).  He served King Zhuang of Chu 楚莊王 (r. 613-591 BCE) and Sima Qian gives several lively...

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