James Geary is the deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, editor of Nieman Reports, and former editor of the European edition of Time magazine. He is the author of five books including the New York Times bestseller The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism.
Wit's End: What Wit Is, How it Works, and Why We Need It
Wit is often thought of as simply being funny. But wit is more than just having a knack for snappy comebacks. There is the serendipitous wit of scientists, the crafty wit of inventors, the optical wit of artists, the improvisational wit of musicians, and the metaphysical wit of philosophers. Wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say or do the right thing at the right time in the right place. James Geary explores every facet of wittiness, bringing the subject to life by writing each chapter in a style that exemplifies a different kind of wit. The chapter on witty verbal repartee is written as a dramatic dialogue; the chapter on the neuroscience of wit is written as a scientific paper; the chapter on the spirituality of wit is written as a sermon.