Ambrose Bierce was born June 24, 1842 in Meigs County, Ohio and was the tenth of 13 children whose names all began with the letter “A.” He worked as a journalist, as a poet, and wrote short stories, mostly about the Civil War. He left Washington D.C. in 1913 and was last heard from in 1913 while he was working for Pancho Villa’s army in Mexico.
How would you define heaven? For that matter, Hell? Earth?
A Circus is a place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool. (Devil’s Dictionary; 1911)
You had a lot of siblings whose name began with the letter A? Any chance to see who, in your family lineage, started this trend?
Genealogy is an account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
Done any traveling lately?
A Road is a strip of land, along which one may pass, from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.
Is it true that the best thing about being immortal is you don’t have to keep track of time?
A Year is a period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.
Any other thoughts on immortality?
A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed
Would be right proud
Eternally to die for.
Ambrose, you were known as a class “A” cynic. Let’s ask a few questions along that line.
How would you define a cynic?
Cynic. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
How would you describe your friends when you were on Earth?
Acquaintance. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
And your friends now?
Bore. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Let’s try some human emotions?
Guilt. The condition of one who is known to have committed an indiscretion, as distinguished from the state of him who has covered his tracks.
Happiness. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
Zeal. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced
Rumor hast it there are heavenly harps.
Any other instruments?
The Clarionet is an instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments that are worse than a clarionet -- two clarionets.
Say, what really happened with Pancho Villa?
An Insurrection is an unsuccessful revolution.
How would you define success?
Success. The one unpardonable sin against one's fellows.
Resigning is a good thing to do when you are going to be kicked out.
Now that you know there’s an afterlife what’s your take on religion?
To Pray is to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
What’s your take of politics?
Conservative. A statesman enamored of existing evils, as opposed to a Liberal, who wants to replace them with new ones.
And second terms?
Twice is once too often.
So pretty good interview, heh?
Egotist. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
Can we count on speaking with you again?
Optimist A proponent of the doctrine that black is white.
All quotes are all from one of his most notable works - Devil’s Dictionary. First published in book form as The Cynic's Word Book (1906)