Pony Seekers

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Sep 30 23:52:25 UTC 2007

I first encountered this story in James Kirkwood's 1960 novel, _There Must Be a Pony!_ (Boston: Little, Brown).

  In Kirkwood's version (a parable told by one of the characters at one point in the story), a brilliant psychologist had set up an experiment to determine how optimists and pessimists
  relate to the world.  In one room he placed a pessimist kid with a pile of expensive toys; in the other, a pessimist kid and several tons of horse manure.

  Watching through the traditional one-way glass, the investigator sees the pessimist kid picking up and discarding toy after toy with remarks like, "This is crap!" "This one's broken!" "This looks stupid!"  He was generally making himself miserable.

  The optimist kid, on the other hand, is deliriously happy, laughing madly, burrowing through heaps of pungent dung shouting, "With all this horseshit, there's gotta be a pony in here somewhere!"

  I've never forgotten this lesson.


Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Wilson Gray
Subject: Re: Pony Seekers

Thanks, TODoug! Actually, it was my bad. I remember the story, now
that you've retold it, and I probably would have made the connection
without help, had I read the entire article, instead of merely
scanning enough of it to get the gist and missing the "pony"


On 9/30/07, Doug Harris wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Doug Harris
> Subject: Re: Pony Seekers
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 'Sorry, Wilson. It's the play on the old story of the boy
> who, upon finding a pile of manure where he expected Christmas
> presents, goes dashing around looking for a pony, explaining
> "where there's this much manure, there must be a pony nearby."
> -------
> My reference was to the Sunday Profile article entitled "New
> idea for space travel?" in today's LA Times
> http://www.latimes.com/technology/, where in the 15th paragraph
> a retired aerospace engineer's comment on the new technology
> included the line, "He may have a pony in there."
> (the other) doug
> ------------------------------
> I'm completely missing your point, The Other Doug. What is "the old
> 'look for the pony' concept"?
> The article about a potential use for that old, mirror-facing-mirror,
> infinite-reflection phenomenon is interesting, though.
> -Wilson
> -----
> >
> > 'Just spotted a nice use of the old "look for the pony"
> > concept:
> >
> http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-sunprofile30sep30,0,4678458.story?coll
> > =la-tot-business&track=ntothtml
> >
> > This seems to be quite popular among politicians and writers about
> > same, a Google search suggests.
> > I suggest documenters of this type thing keep their eyes peeled, as
> > there's a huge number of manure-producing pols running around the
> > country these days. (In case you hadn't noticed.)
> > (the other) doug
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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