Friday, March 13, 2009

Quote of the Day (Sydney J. Harris, Defining for All Time “A Jerk”)

“A jerk, then, is a man (or woman) who is utterly unable to see himself as he appears to others. He has no grace, he is tactless without meaning to be, he is a bore even to his best friends, he is an egotist without charm. All of us are egotists to some extent, but most of us—unlike the jerk—are perfectly and horribly aware of it when we make asses of ourselves. The jerk never knows.”—Chicago Daily News columnist Sydney J. Harris, Last Things First (1961)

Growing up 30 years ago, I noticed that Harris (1917-1986) was syndicated in my local paper, The Record (Bergen County, NJ), but I never paid him that much mind. Reading the delightful essay “A Jerk” in his collection Last Things First, I’m sorry I didn’t read the longtime “Strictly Personal” columnist when I had the chance during his lifetime. At least the piece has left me resolved to try to hunt down more of his work in the future, however.

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