Thank You, Dictionary. That’s Helpful

My uncle has a joke of the day calendar. Every morning, he texts a bunch of us the day’s entry. If it’s a question joke rather than a funny quote or one liner, he only sends us that part and then waits to see how many of us can come up with the right answer. It’s a fun little thing. Sometimes they’re puns, sometimes they’re kid jokes, sometimes they’re clever, sometimes they’re god awful. And now and then, like the last couple of days, they get weirdly intellectual.

Yesterday’s was “Why did Karl Marx dislike Earl Grey tea? Because all proper tea is theft.”

For the record, I didn’t get the answer. But I did groan when I heard it, because I know just enough to understand it.

I love my family, but we’re not necessarily the most well read or cultured bunch you’ll ever meet. Yes, I apply that statement to myself. this is why Carin was left explaining to at least one of us that Karl was not related to Groucho and Harpo.

Today’s is “How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

I texted in an answer pretty quickly, because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it before and it’s some nonsense like fish or hammer or trombone.

I haven’t gotten anything back yet, but I have a pretty good feeling it’s going to need some explaining.

So because I’m occasionally proactive, I thought maybe I’d go to the dictionary for some inspiration on how to give a simple explanation should the need arise.

This is what I found.

noun
1.
an artist or writer who is an exponent of the avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.
“the wildest fantasies of the European surrealists and dadaists”

What?

I know essentially what a surrealist is, or at least I thought I did. But anyone who Googled it from a place of confusion now has like 17 more words to look up.

Perhaps the second definition will prove more useful.

adjective
1.
relating to the avant-garde movement in art and literature which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind or its exponents.
“Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali”

Yes, rearranging the words to make it into an adjective is the technically correct thing to do, but what in the hell is any of that?

The dictionary is supposed to make things less confusing, not more. The only people who are going to be making any sense whatsoever out of that mess are the ones who don’t need to look it up to begin with.

If I do need to explain it or if you need it explained, use the Wikipedia entry, which is actually written in English.

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4 Comments

    1. Hahaha.

      I got a text back.  The answer was fish, and I did have to explain it.  I think I did ok.

      Pretty much went with the idea that surrealism is about the unexpected.  Used all that weird looking art that doesn’t really mean anything obvious as one example, and said that surrealist humour is the same, putting unexpected things where they’re not supposed to be.  So if you answer fish to the light bulb question, it’s surrealist humour.  Not funny humour necessarily, but that’s what you’d call it.

  1. Hahaha.
    I got a text back.  The answer was fish, and I did have to explain it.  I think I did ok.
    Pretty much went with the idea that surrealism is about the unexpected.  Used all that weird looking art that doesn’t really mean anything obvious as one example, and said that surrealist humour is the same, putting unexpected things where they’re not supposed to be.  So if you answer fish to the light bulb question, it’s surrealist humour.  Not funny humour necessarily, but that’s what you’d call it.

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