Inspired by Oscar Wilde, in 100 Words

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success. -- The Soul of Man under Socialism (1881)

A friend of mine says you find out who your real friends are when you're happy. She says there are always people ready to lend a shoulder to cry on, but many who'd promptly listen to your sorrows won't be inclined to listen to your laughter. She says this is because comforting you in times of grief makes them feel valuable and worthy individuals, but laughing with you serves no purpose, except maybe remind them that they haven't their own reasons to laugh. She says your real friends will laugh along with you no matter what. I think she's right.

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

A thing isn't necessarily true because a genius said it, either, but I can't help bow to the brilliance of this simple statement that speaks volumes of the greatness and stupidity of humankind: on one hand, the fact that one would be ready to die for something they believe in; on the other, the reality that many of these beliefs are so dispossessed of any sort of reason that one wonders at the will to die for them. In any event, does it diminish the greatness of a man the fact that he would die for a stupid, untrue idea?

One's real life is often the life that one does not lead.

Once I started lying about what and who I am, I fell into a bottomless trap. To protect one lie, I needed to tell another, and another, until it became a full-time chore to keep track of all the lies. I got so tangled in my own fabrications, that I forgot why I told that first lie. I was so trapped in my fantasy that I wasn't able to tell the truth even if I wanted to. Regardless, that truth I wanted to hide in the first place no longer existed. I'm not that person anymore, just a complete lie.

I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.

Forgive me while I laugh until I cry. Was there ever a truest statement in regards to man's creation? Oh, but wait, whatever gave Wilde the idea that God exists and that he created anything? Never mind that, though, I'm still laughing. If God created man in his likeness, one only needs to observe the end result of his crafty creation to realize that the almighty is either the most crooked, corrupt, greedy, unreasonable, vengeful, hurtful, ignorant, hateful, disdainful individual, or that he indeed seriously overestimated his ability, but then that's a trait that points to ignorance, heavenly or earthly.

One is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason. -- The Critic as Artist, part 2 (1891)

One is also tempted to define man as a beast with a very itchy temper that occasionally behaves as a rational animal, when reason and his personal agenda coincide. Are we beasts underneath a thin veneer of civilization, or are we rational animals struggling to cope in a world that doesn't always operate on the dictates of reason? Are we a pack of alpha dog wannabes, or a pigpen of conformists just feeding and thriving on stink and dirt? One is extremely tempted to just leave man undefined, and let every man's actions be a definition of what he is.

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. -- Lady Windermere's Fan, Act I (1892)

This reminds me of that old cliché that says "normal is boring." Really? I don't think so, I think all of us are normal in our own way, and the only boring thing about that is trying to pretend that we aren't, as if "normal" were a sickness that one needs to be cured from. That's so very tedious and so very not charming, that I wish we would all get over it, collectively. Maybe I'm mistaken, maybe it's my own twitched sense of normalcy, but I hardly ever hear "normal is boring" from someone who isn't either or both.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. -- The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I (1895)

Can I say anything, in 100 words, that doesn’t sound completely idiotic next to this incredibly inspired sentence? I certainly can't, I simply had the inclination to close the Wilde tribute with one of my all time favorite quotes. Those who know me, know how much I abhor naming favorites. That's because there's a moment for everything and everything fits into its moment, but favorites seem to point to a transcendence of time and space, a truth that is always valid in one's mind. I have few favorites because there are few truths that are indelibly valid in my mind.

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Comments 52 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Brilliant, in concept and execution. Oscar would be chuffed :)

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Thank you, Paraglider! Most appreciated! :-)

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pgrundy 7 years ago

I love Oscar Wilde. I really enjoyed your thoughts on these quotes. The one about success is so true. I'm always struck by how irrational rationality can get. It's like a suit of clothes or something. You need to wear it for certain jobs, so as not to get a big mess all over yourself, but beyond that it's fairly empty--there's still a smelly human being inside of it. Thanks for an enjoyable read!

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I love dissecting quotes! I've done it too - it's great fun and you've come away with some great ones! I think my favorite is the "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. -- Lady Windermere's Fan, Act I (1892)" I, personally, am aiming for "charming" and I think I nearly got there yesterday. (or was it Wednesday?) Oh, well, there's always Tomorrow!

Love ya Elena! Great to see you writing again!

Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Elena, excellent. I love the layout as well. I'm a lover of Oscar Wilde. Your responses are terrific. My favorite play of his has to be "The Importance of Being Earnest" I read it in High School and had seen it well before that on PBS, and havesince had the pleasure of seing it at the theatre on several diferent occations. What humor. Such simplicity in his works but how thought provoking and powerful and true.

It strikes me what your friend said about being able to tell a true friend by whether they are there through your times of laughter. I can't say I thought of that. And I suppose it could go the other way as well.

Great piece. Love how your mind works. =]

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Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

I have nothing to declare except my genius.--

Which... should be yours, but is (maybe?) attributed to Oscar Wilde. I love Oscar Wilde (especially, The Picture of Dorian Gray). I need to dust off the collection and have myself a good read.

As usual, this is creative, unique, and mind-stretching. But, I have come to expect it from you, so I'm (a little) less intimidated by your genius. lol. not even close.

Nice work, Elena. I really liked this one. I gave it a thumbs up, and would've given it more, if possible. ;)

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

I really enjoyed this, Elena and admire the writings of Oscar Wilde. Thanks for sharing this great tribute and your own thoughts and philosophies.

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Charming or tedious? How simple life would be if we needed to use just these two labels to describe everyone! :)

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, everyone, and thank you for the comments! I'm glad to see that Wilde has a healthy following :)

Pam, I like your simile for irrational rationality, a suit of clothes indeed! Hey, I hope your flu is fully gone or almost fully gone!

Candie, you know what they say in those famous self-help books about thinking positive and feeling pretty and acting successful being half the work to actually being happy, pretty and successful? Same applies to charming! Laugh

Frieda, I'd never thought of it that way, either, that true friends stick with you when you're at your best – but soon as I heard it, it totally clicked with me.

Oscar Wilde's plays are something else, his brand of simple incisiveness was very daring, and very modern. In some aspects, he's yet to be outdone.

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, Linda, you flatter me, ma'am :-) I thought of including that quote, but preferred to errrr not go that route to avoid sounding like a major and complete pretentious snob! (More of one, anyway!) Laugh! The man had a biting tongue and a genius brain, didn't he? I truly admire him.

Dohn, my pleasure, and as I said before, I'm glad Wilde resonates with a lot of people out there :-)

But it *is* that simple, Feline! After tedious and charming you may further subdivide, but if you don't have time for that, those two will help greatly, for starters :-P

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elliot.dunn 7 years ago

Wilde is a wonderful writer to deal with. his Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray is simply brilliant and successfully creates that "everything you know is wrong" moment. thank you for highlighting some of his best quotes. you're writing style elegantly mixes poetry with philosophy; you are profundity steeped in simplicity. very much a fan.

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Thank you, Elliot, much appreciated. Good old Dorian is great, but then I can't think of any Wilde work that is short on greatness :-)

cindyleedavis profile image

cindyleedavis 7 years ago from

I enjoyed reading your hub.

I like the way you have presented your material.

It is very nice.

Chad A Taylor profile image

Chad A Taylor 7 years ago from Somewhere in Seattle...

"I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability..." I would pose this then, "I think man overestimated his ability without God..."

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

You are such a very thoughtful person, Elena. I have never heard that about your friends laughing with you. Looking at it that way, I think it's true too. Very well put together! Thank you!

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, Cindy!

Chad, be my guest and write 100 words about that thought :-)

And thank you, Chris! The friends thing, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it. Wilde had it right, and so did my amiga, smart woman!

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Oscar Wilde was a great man, and I love the quotes you've chosen, and the way you've added your own thoughts here. The one I found most poignant was the one about men dying for things that are not necessarily true. That happens every day.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hey there, Ms Longest River :-) Wilde was one of kind, he probably lived in the wrong time, but I wonder what he'd make of the world today, and whether he'd still mutter the same brilliant quotes in reference to today's state of affairs. Probably so :-)

2uesday profile image

2uesday 7 years ago

Enjoyed reading the quotes and your 'take' on them, entertaining.

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, 2uesday! Cool name :-)

2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

This is a wonderful Hub! Everybody should see Wilde's plays at least once, and preferably more than once. There are so many great lines.

It is sad that the man is sometimes overshadowed by the events of his own life.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, 2patricias! I'm happy you liked it :-) I agree with you, Wilde's works are magnificent and should be a must for anyone who cares even one bit for great literature. It's true that the man and his genius were surpassed by the events of his life while he was alive, pity it was only after his death that both man and genius were recognized as they should. Then again this happes with plenty of geniuses, doesn't it?

Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Very impressive discussion and wouldn't it have been fabulous to have met such a genius just even once.

I've known some famous "geniuses" and my experience is that the old saying about a genius being a hair's width from an idiot certainly gave me some food for thought with them. Still, maybe real genius is a post mortum kind of thing?

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hi, Jerilee! I think you have a point when you say some geniuses are a breath away from idiocy, I think that may be due to the fact some geniuses are so preoccupied with "their thing" that they may be perceived as disconnected from and ignorant of "real life".

Also, the postmortem thing may come from the fact that some geniuses (like Wilde) weren't ashamed or shy to openly ridicule what they understood as a mediocre, deceitful and ignorant status quo. Therefore they tended to offend their contemporaries and were despised while alive. Only time and perspective (basically being separated from their words hence being able not to take them "personally") brought into focus the geniality of these people's works and words. Well, that's my take anyhow :-)

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Awesome, Elena. I've always loved your 100-word concepts, and this one is so on the money in every way. Is this an Elena-genre with implications yet to be fully realized? You go, girl!

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Merci, Sally! I like Elena-genre, it makes me feel, uhm.... special :-) I don't know that I can take it further. In spite of how much can be said in 100 chosen words, the process of saying it is kind of "painful", and I guess I'm not that perseverant, or dedicated, or... you get my drift.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

You miscounted an entry - it has 101 words! Of course I jest! I was either nodding in agreement or smiling in amusement at your thoughts. You've made yourself a very interesting series here. What did the great man knew? I mean the woman does Descartes for crying out loud! Ha!

Enjoyed this hub! Thanks for sharing as always :D

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Oi Cris! Silly me, I almost had a stroke upon reading your first words! I guess I should say thanks for the laugh :D And for reading! Besos!

J  Rosewater profile image

J Rosewater 7 years ago from Australia

I think we all have out charming and tedious phases! But we all know someone who is always one, and someone else who is always the other. Well done here - I'll be back to read these again and again.

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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Cheers, J Rosewater! I even know some people that can be tediously charming, those are a class of their own ;-)

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tlmntim9 7 years ago

Delightfull commentary!

All I can add is this:

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

Albert Einstein

Yours has survived nicely. TW

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Well, thanks for saying so, tlmntim9! That Einstein quote has a lot of potential, you know, I can see 100 or 1000 words flowing :-)

J Burgraff profile image

J Burgraff 7 years ago

Now I'm going to be wondering if I'm charming or tedious all day...that probably makes me tedious...Great hub.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

People who wonder about stuff aren't usually tedious, J Burgraff, so cheer up :-) Nice to meet you, by the way.

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

You are obviously such an intelligent person. Now WHY you are so troubled, does not really matter here. I enjoy reading your battles with the various subjects that interest you at time and I hope you will not mind my occasional comment :-) Anyway, you can always erase it :-)

Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Hi De Greek :-) AHEM Who says I'm troubled? :-P AHEM I'm definitely opinionated and, all right, maybe a bit demented, hehe, but as troubled goes.... uhmmmm ok, maybe a little bit *hysterical laugh*

Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

Elena, this is fabulous. I too, am an Oscar Wilde fan and they are wonderful quotes. "People are either charming or tedious" hadn't heard that one before but I suspect it might be true, though sometimes they can fluctuate between the two. He retained his humour until his last breath. Apparently on his deathbed he took one last look around the room and said "either that wallpaper goes or I do."


Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Jane, I'd never heard his deathbed parting line! The man certainly had spine! Laugh!

The charming or tedious thing, you're probably right, we all fluctuate :-) I'm glad you liked!

Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Fabulous quotes and equally fabulous comments; a real treat that I enjoyed enormously. Thank you

Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Hi Petra, thank you! You are right, some of the comments are better than my own offering ... this tends to happen to me, as I recently stated in my "to be or not to be a writer" article. I tend to take it as a compliment :-)

jlwhets profile image

jlwhets 6 years ago from West Branch, Iowa

As a recent fan of Oscar, bravo! Very interesting concept for a Hub, well done!

Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

JL, thanks much, glad you enjoyed!

cathby profile image

cathby 6 years ago from Canada

Great collection thanks for sharing.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, cathby!

Lissa Mirror profile image

Lissa Mirror 4 years ago

I thought 100 words is just a metaphor! But I’ve just counted words in your paragraphs and... wow! The hub is great by itself, but the idea of 100 words makes it even better

Elena. profile image

Elena. 4 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, Lissa! When you see a 100 words reference in any of my titles, you can bet money that it's exactly that amount of words :-)

Oscarwildefanclub 4 years ago

Great post

I like the challenge , perhaps you might like to write a guest blog piece for us on our Oscar Wilde fanclub website

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Elena. 4 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks "Oscarwidefanclub"! Sure, I could do that -- send me details via my contact link above :)

Elias Zanetti profile image

Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

Great hub, Elena. As am Oscar Wilde fan, I enjoyed both the quotes and your comments.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 3 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, Elias. Glad you enjoyed both, although I'm rational enough to know the quotes are far superior than any commentary on them :)

kalinin1158 profile image

kalinin1158 21 months ago from California

"People are either charming or tedious" - ain't that the truth? Naturally, everyone prefers the charming, but sometimes (oftentimes) the charming means the narcissist. Great hub, thanks for sharing!

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Elena. 21 months ago from Madrid Author

My pleasure, kalinin! Thanks for reading and enjoying!

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