Monday, June 26, 2006

von Goethe Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai?

Self-help articles and books love to quote this line by Goethe: "Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!" I had somehow mis-read that quote as "Baldness has genius, power and magic in it". I was so depressed at my lack of baldness, I contemplated some drastic steps, like wearing a bald wig.

But back to Goethe and this quotation.

The quote is meant to motivate you and help you get started. Read it silently a few times and you will feel drawn to its message. Read it aloud with a fist up in the air and you will want to blast the final movement to Beethoven's Ninth as the words "Freude, schoner Gotterfunken" reverberate in your room. Isn't this how we imagine great Germans to be, filled with resolve, determination and courage?

Too bad Herr Goethe never actually wrote those words. So the next time some motivational speaker or writer attributes it to Goethe, emit a snide laugh, call his bluff and sink back into your wimpy, procrastinating ways.

BTW, Goethe did say all of these things. Scroll down to the end of the list for the "misattributed" quote.)

"Elementary, my dear Watson", "Play it again, Sam", "Me Tarzan, you Jane", "A-wop-Bop-a-loowop-a-wop-bamboo", wait, Little Richard actually said those immortal words.

Why are some of the best-known quotations misquotations?


Tabula Rasa said...

"Freude"?! That *has* to be a classic :-D

wildflower seed said...

Actually, TR's contribution reminds me of a story. In the winter of 2003, myself and my wife toured Rajasthan. Me and my wife got into Jaisalmer really early in the morning, and grabbed an auto to the guest house. Now, there are several "package tours" usually organized by whichever hotel one is staying at, but once you get into Jaisalmer, it seems the auto-wallahs provide their own packages. So on the way, the auto-wallah starts a conversation with us, and asks us what our plans are. We tell him that we will decide once we get to the guest house. So he says...emphatically "Unka (meaning guest house walon-ka) package nahin lena...woh log sab FREUD hai, FREUD!!!!"

The surreal quotient is multiplied if you consider that on that very trip, I also happened to be reading Peter Gay's (fantastic) biography of Freud.

Tabula Rasa said...

wah bhai, freudon ka jung.

GhostOfTomJoad said...

To add my two-bit to the Freud story. I've come across many odd things in my time but what REALLY takes the cake is this school I used to cross everyday on my way to the Univ. For some reason it was called Freud Public School...

neha vish said...

Freud always reminds me of a particular psychology prof who despite having a syllabus that covered about 10 thinkers on psychology, psychotherapy and self - would talk only of Freud.

A classmate would always come walking in with a cigarette into the class. This prof once looked at him - and said "What you really want is your mother's breast - I don't think you were breast fed enough in your childhood, so you make do with a cigarette to satisfy your oral fixation."

I believe that boy stopped smoking.

km said...

A sloooow double-take on TR's first comment. Eh? But "Freudon ka jung" does make a great title for a masala film.

VB: GAY's biography of Freud? Now you are just making up stuff :)

Ghost: I bet they had couches, not desks in the classrooms.

Neha: several awful jokes appear on the mind's radar screen, but decency shall prevail.

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