3.6
August 24, 2011

Great Moments in Sarcasm #1: Sigmund Freud & the Nazis.

Kinda sorta a follow-up to this.

Much loved by comedians and malcontents, sarcasm has long been denigrated by overly sincere yogis, well-meaning counselors and Pink Floyd songs. Nonetheless, there are times when following Emily Dickinson’s advice to tell the truth, but tell it slant may be the best way to get a point across, particularly when more direct speech can get you killed. The following is first in what could end up being a series.

In 1938, after much harassment by the Gestapo, Sigmund Freud was permitted to leave Austria on the condition that he sign a document stating that he’d been treated with all the respect and consideration due to my scientific reputation, that I could live and work in full freedom.

This was, of course, completely untrue. But, as a Jew who’d been named an enemy of the Reich, his books specifically targeted for burning when the Nazis came to power in Germany five years earlier, Freud had little choice but to sign. He could not, however, resist adding a postscript: I can most highly recommend the Gestapo to everyone.

Thanks to a lack of ironic sensibility typical of fascists, the Nazis failed to see the sarcasm dripping from his words, and Freud was allowed to emigrate.

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Brad Mar 27, 2014 6:30am

Dr. Freud lives in you..

sordog1 Aug 25, 2011 5:26pm

Thanks for a good chuckle! 🙂

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Jay Winston

Jay S. Winston, founder and proprietor of Yoga for Cynics (http://yogaforcynics.blogspot.com), has a PhD in English, making him the kind of doctor who, in case of life-threatening emergency, can explain Faulkner while you die, is currently (semi-)(un-)employed as a freelance writer and editor, teaches creative writing to homeless men, tutors recovering addicts in reading, was recently certified as a Kripalu yoga teacher, gets around mostly by bicycle, is trying to find an agent for his novel, resides in the bucolic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, State of Mildly Inebriated Samadhi, U.S.A. and, like most people who bike and practice yoga, used to live in Boulder.