The Encyclopedia of Stupidity

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Overview

Matthijs van Boxsel believes that no one is intelligent enough to understand their own stupidity. In The Encyclopædia of Stupidity he shows how stupidity manifests itself in all areas, in everyone, at all times, proposing that stupidity is the foundation of our civilization.

In short sections with such titles as ‘The Blunderers’ Club’, ‘Fools in Hell’, ‘Genealogy of Idiots’, and ‘The Aesthetics of the Empty Gesture’, stupidity is analysed on the basis of fairy tales, cartoons, triumphal arches, garden architecture, Baroque ceilings, jokes, flimsy excuses and science fiction. But Van Boxsel wants to do more than just assemble a ‘shadow cabinet’ of wisdom; he tries to fathom the logic of this opposite world. Where do understanding and intelligence begin and end? He examines mythic fools such as Cyclops and King Midas, cities such as Gotham, archetypes including the dumb blonde, and traditionally stupid animals such as the goose, the donkey and the headless chicken.

Van Boxsel posits that stupidity is a condition for intelligence, that blunders stimulate progress, that failure is the basis for success. In this erudite and witty book he maintains that our culture is the product of a series of failed attempts to comprehend stupidity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861892317
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Series: BL - Treasures from the Bodleian Library
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthijs van Boxsel is a literary historian who lives in Amsterdam.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
I. The Black Flag
II. The Blunderers' Club
III. Fallor, the Aerobat
IV. The Ha-Ha
V. Simpletons in Hell
VI. The Genealogy of Dullards
VII. On the Inherent Stupidity of Constitutional Monarchies
—1. Stupidity as the Basis of Civilization
—2. Man is a Grape
—3. The Trifling Difference
—4. Election Fever
—5. Frogs, Logs, Snakes and Masks (Twelve Uneasy Pieces)
—6. The Emperor's New Clothes
VIII. The Darwin Awards
—1. Ecstasy
—2. The Missing Link
—3. Holy Madness
—4. Clinamen
—5. 'Pataphysics
—6. The Stupidity of Encyclopaedias
Acknowledgements

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2004

    One of the best books I ever read

    This book reminds us of the fallacies and illogical events with their reasons happening all over the world, the ridiculous rules, regulations and 'laws' we are subjected to. It is a refreshing exposé of everyday events looking from a different side - a sort of a Rubik-cube which, with a twist of the fingers, changes the appearance of the same thing. Highly recommend it to people who enjoy intellectual challenges.

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