Thursday, 22 February 2007

Where do you get your ideas from?

There are lots of different answers to this, most of the famous ones seem to express some frustration at the difficulty in getting ideas or more accurately the imbalance between the ease of asking and answering the question.

Here are some of my favourite answers:
  • A small warehouse in <> string error < /random remote location generator >,
  • if I knew exactly where I'd go there more often,
  • I keep the Muse Calliope in a room upstairs,
  • I nick 'em,
  • from the way my synapses fire and misfire under stimulation,
  • from the collective unconsciousness,
  • from the voices of the angels and a local dog in my head that use me as an instrument of their wills.

The thing is, it's all a bit Zen, you have to look without looking, allowing things to occur to you in such a way that they won't get shy and run off. However, I've come up with a great new source this week, for jokes at least- Longman's Guide to English Usage.

It's full of gag ideas because a lot of it's about trying to prevent ambiguity in communication, and a lot of the best jokes, like thriller plots, are about misdirection; presenting all the information in a way that leads people to make sense of things one way before revealing a surprise that (with a following wind) entertains them.

Listen, I never claimed this was going to be Freud's Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, or Henri Bergson's Why Inappropriate Nob Gags Often Get a Giggle, alright?

Actually the funniest thing I found in the book this week was that the '..' above the 'e's in Bronte and naive is called diaeresis. This made me think of how the Brontes wrote all that epic literature as naive teenage girls when most girls would still be putting two little circles or hearts over the 'e's in 'Bronte' and 'naive'. How much more they could have written if their surname had been less silly...

Incidentally, if anyone knows how to generate diaeresis marks on this keyboard I'd be happy to find out and pretend to be both impressed and fascinated: not ecstatically happy admittedly, but, you know, happy enough.


Stuart Douglas said...

In Microsoft Word you just press CTRL and Shift and the colon symbol at the same time, then the letter of choice to be unlauted (which is the same sort of thing, I think).

{quick Google}

for further ways of attaining diaeresis...

Go on, be very mildly happy and very slightly impressed :)

IZP said...

My hero. Swoons. That'll teach me not to compose straight into the silly blogger window. Truly Microsoft Word is a boon after all. At last I can write something about doppelgangers in safety.
I bet there's a similar trick for correctly rendering the title of 'Doctor Who and the Daemons'- you remember, that 'Doctor Who' story with only one Daemon in it.