The Devil’s Dictionary
Oxford University Press
“Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum,” is how this 19th-century San Franciscan wit adapted Descartes’ famous saw. Translated into English, it reads: “I think I think, therefore I think I am”—which may be the first expression of “postmodern” thought extant. Bierce was one funny wag, and this collection of his acerbic barbs, penned between 1881 and 1906, contains many gems from his poisonously funny sense of humor. Bierce especially had a tumescent member for organized religion, specifically those masquerading under the rubric of “Christian,” and also had an eye cocked toward those who would wrap their selfish motives with Old Glory. Countering Samuel Johnson’s assertion that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, Bierce correctly pointed out that it is the first. Oh, but we wouldn’t know about that, would we? Turn to any page and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll laugh out loud. Really.