If I recall right, AMEX Credit Cards used to have this seminal tagline ‘ Don’t Leave Home Without It ‘ coined by advertising great David Ogilvy. But your visa to a perfect quip or comeback after it didn’t matter—a minute, hour, or day after one of your conversations has ended? Yes, you got it. The best master card up your sleeve – WIT.
No need for WIThdrawal symptoms. You’re not doomed to sit by as ‘clever’ companions exchange sharp banter. You can practice being wittier, improving your reaction times and ability to land a jab or joke at just the right moment. Jokes don’t warrant social distancing. That was CoWIT talking.
Unlike perceived, WIT isn’t just for some gifted linguists. Playing with language—elevating mundane communication from mere talk into a creative process—is a form of innovation that sheds new light on old ideas. Plus, vitally, it makes life less boring and more fun for you and others. So, in short, we can all get better at being ‘ clever ‘.
Just as those highly skilled auto drivers on Bombay roads, if you can turn around (just like they do on a 6 cm radius!) words and phrases in the mind and present new juxtapositions, one can change the way we and other people see. Yes, it’s the road less travelled. But worth taking. So, get on WIT(h) it!
The wittiest among us are simply people who make unusual connections between words and ideas. And never verse off for it. Observations- Refreshed. Surprised!
In cognitive terms, the brain of the wit is less inhibited than that of a linguistic dullard. In other words, fairly, well ventilated shall we say? Are you WIT(h) me? Unabashed, uncensored access to associations, conscious and unconscious, is essential to wit. Apologies, people with brain damage don’t qualify!
The caudate nucleus is one area( 2 kms south of Mira Road..just kidding) of the brain implicated in associative learning and control of inhibitions that may explain how wit is generated. Likewise, the frontotemporal region( east of Kandahar..by now you know!) influences personality, language, and emotional development. Knowing precisely how these areas of the brain interact and regulate thinking will lead to better ‘ scientific comprehension of wit ‘. That is if you really are bothered about all of this in the first place.
So, if you are looking at a guide to ‘ advanced banter ‘, don’t wait for a breakthrough in brain science to cultiWEIGHT wit. (W)It’s reasonably simple. Just knowing that wit is a kind of associative process already makes you better equipped to be a verbal gymnast. The variety of the play of wit manifests through—puns( tumhee pun na!!), rhyme, metaphor, slang, rap(chick), to name a few.
The encouraging thing to understand here is that being creative about language can be mastered with practice. It’s not all natural talent. If you make peace with history and take a piece of it, in analyzing how wit arises or why we might rely on it, the oldest and most revered texts in the world, from the Tao Te Ching(nothing to do with what Neena Gupta endorses) to the Bible to the plays of William Shakespeare are replete with language play. When all the world is a rage, wit has a role to play. Perhaps on centre stage?
With linguistic gymnastics, we can reach people who might not otherwise think they’re interested in certain ideas and break down barriers. Hip-hop and rap, for example, exposed generations of music listeners of all classes and races to black culture they didn’t encounter in their own lives. (And Shakira has taught us that hips don’t lie). Wit’s an efficient way to say more with less, as in the case of a metaphor, or to expose unexpected mean ink, alternately meaning.
Wit is the antidote for a culture being dulled by communication overload—it’s a kind of wisdom. In Aristotle’s words, it is a form of “ educated insolence. ” If we were cracking wise, rather than vice versa ie reacting angrily, and being wittier(or Twittier?) on Twitter, we might all have a much better time.The rate of exchange between strangers and acquaintances online has never been so high(BSE/NASDAQ/FTSE etc please take note). But internet chatter is often toxic and commonly resorts to vitriolic retorts( would have preferred witriolic), angry declarations, and unnecessary observations. Wish that closed minds came with closed mouths. Hence, so many of us feel we are at our wit’s end.