Young William: I can fight.
Malcolm Wallace: I know. I know you can fight. But it’s our wits that make us men.
We have no reason to trust that this dialogue between William Wallace and his father ever occurred. It is a wonderful dialogue, nonetheless. Historical accuracy and the gender bias notwithstanding, it is worth a thought.
My best friend often refers to her brother as witty. The way we use this word now, has to do with presence of mind, quickness of response and such. Essentially an aspect of humour. Essentially not slapstick.
When we read very old documents (and I have read a few), wit referred (past tense, yes) to inventive thought. Not the makeshift kind — jugaad — which has become the darling of all the self-proclaimed innovation gurus. It is purposeful, it has long-term implications, is environmentally aware, and importantly – visionary.
But we lose our wit on the way. Mostly because we don’t care for it. In times where everything is a given, true wit is rare; almost non-existent. We have no reason to use our brains, memories – for we have acquiesced these to our gadgets and networks. Or we have rotted it by abuse. Or we find no use for it. Or we get used to a neural network that’s familiar. Perhaps, a bit of all the above
It’s time to reclaim wit. From our own ignorance. Not a flavour of it that we can scoop out. But the original that we discarded somewhere along the way. But it won’t be easy.
We have to sacrifice indulgence.
We have to sacrifice ignorance.
We have to sacrifice insensitivity.
It’s time we reclaim wit. Not to prove anything to an other. Not to prove anything to ourselves. But only to be witty. To be our true original selves. In the true sense of the word. Not humour, for sure. Not sarcasm, definitely. Sarcasm is not wit. (That’s the reason there are two different words)
The Wit Manifesto
For I shall never be at my wits’ end; I’ll collect and gather my wits, and live by my wits.
This not a new adventure, it is a re-discovery of an old.