Archive for March 1st, 2023


GC Myers-Isle of Quiet sm

Isle of Quiet— At West End Gallery, Corning

Misanthropy don’t pay—thare aint no man living whoze hate the world cares one cuss for.

–Josh Billings, Josh Billings: His Works, Complete (1873)

On social media, I follow Susie Dent who is an English lexicographer and etymologist who is well known on British television as the Word Wizard. I don’t think such a thing– an etymologist/media personality– could happen here but that’s another story.

Anyway, Susie Dent posts obscure and archaic words on a regular basis. Yesterday, she posted the word apanthropy which originated in the 18th century and is defined by her as the desire to be away from other people. Looking up the word further, most define it as an aversion to the company of men; a love of solitude.

I’ve often labeled my desire to be alone as being misanthropy which is an outright dislike or even hatred of humankind. While there are times (quite a few, actually) when I am not thrilled about humankind, I am generally bothered by the idea of hating it. There is so much to like about much of it and so many people who are wonderful specimens of it, though I imagine they might be made a little uneasy by being called specimens.

It made me happy to find a word that better described my desire to be alone. Aversion, rather than hate, to humans much better describes my attitude. A misanthrope sounds like someone who goes out of their way to grind their axe against humanity whereas an apanthrope just wants to be left alone.

I found my people. I would say, “Apanthropes of the world, unite!” but that wouldn’t make much sense, given our attitude.

I certainly won’t be joining the club though I do proudly now call myself an Apanthrope.

The American Humorists

The American Humorists

Down the rabbit hole again. The quote at the top is from someone who is new to me, Josh Billings, which was the pen name of 19th-century American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw. He was a famous humor writer and lecturer in the United States, perhaps second only to Mark Twain, during the latter half of the 19th century. He wrote in the vernacular of the time, using semi-literate spelling to capture his characters. To the right, He is shown on the left in a popular trading card of the era ( there were trading cards then of famous orators, actors, etc. which could be the subject of a future blog) along with Mark Twain and Petroleum V. Nasby, a pen name which opened up yet another rabbit hole since he was from the area in which I live.

Josh Billings died in 1885 at the age of 67 in Monterey, California. His death and subsequent burial are described in the John Steinbeck novel, Cannery Row.

Here are a few of his other sayings:

There are two kinds of fools: those who can’t change their opinions and those who won’t.


I have lived in this world just long enough to look carefully the second time into things that I am most certainof the first time.


There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.

From what I have read, he sounds like a fine specimen of an apanthrope. Might have to find some of his writings…

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