I learned the ABCs of sarcasm from the twelve-year-old Krishnapriya. But, I have always known that the concept of sarcasm has a long history behind it. Machiavelli says that in ancient Florence, “he who could wound others the most cleverly was thought the wisest”. It pains me, because I am a sentimentalist. But, things can go either way. Sarcasm hurts because it is often a form of truth. Man’s history is full of men and women who were butchered because they were sarcastic-Like Kondraty Ryleyev.
Kondraty Ryleyev was a man who lived in the 19th Century Russia. When the new Czar Nicholas I ascended the throne, he became a big revolutionary leader and everything. Not surprisingly, it would not take long for Nicholas I to sentence him to death. But, when the trapdoor opened, the rope broke and Ryleyev fell on the ground. Ryleyev woke up and said cheerfully to the crowd, “You know, in Russia, they do not know how to do anything properly, not even how to make a rope!”
When Nicholas I was signing the pardon, he wanted to know what Mr. Ryleyev thinks about this miracle. Nicholas’ minion said: “Sire, he said that in Russia they don’t even know how to make a rope.” Nicholas I said with a clever smile, “Let us prove the contrary.” This time, the Russian rope did not break. Ryeleyev was soon taken to the graveyard, in a beautiful coffin—All because he said what was more than necessary. Continue reading