Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

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It doesn't make sense, in a way that makes sense. (Does that make sense?)

Time for more phraseology, folks, 'cause I feel like it: I've learned the origin of the phrase "Pull up by your bootstraps."

hughcasey posted a long post about his not-so-simple answers to an online quiz, "Are You Liberal or Conservative?," at one point saying:
And yet there are many, many people who, when told that the unfortunate just need help, just say that they're not working hard enough, and should be "picking themselves up by their bootstraps," or some other damned fool cliche. Well, that's a lot easier to do when you HAVE bootstraps to start off with.
mrteufel replied
"picking themselves up by their bootstraps"

I've never understood this. Most cliches make at least metaphorical sense; but the only effect trying to lift yourself by your bootstraps will have is to make you fall over - except if you damage your boots instead. So in effect telling people to lift themselves by their bootstraps is by definition asking the impossible of them.

Which is often the non-metaphorical result, too.
And then hughcasey provided today's TruFax (to borrow a term cleolinda likes):
The "Bootstraps" phrase actually comes from "The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen" by Rudolph Erich Raspe. At one point, The Baron had fallen to the bottom of a deep lake. Just when it looks like all is lost, he has the idea to pick himself up by his own bootstraps, and thus escapes.

Sounds like the type of story that the good Baron would tell, eh?
Woo hoo! The Baron! The inspiration for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, no jive one of my favorite films of my life. So my eyes widened, yes they did.

So that's where that phrase came from. I know more now.
Tags: books, language

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