I always put these pert jackanapeses out of countenance by looking extremely grave when they expect that I should laugh at their pleasantries; and by saying Well, and so?--as if they had not done, and that the sting were still to come. This disconcerts them, as they have no resources in themselves, and have but one set of jokes to live upon.
It is one of the sublime provincialities of New York that its inhabitants lap up trivial gossip about essential nobodies they've never set eyes on, while continuing to boast that they could live somewhere for twenty years without so much as exchanging pleasantries with their neighbors across the hall.
I wanted to wear the most impenetrable suit of armour ever known to mankind. 'Hello, Mr. Rotten...' You can't say anything about me. You can't put me down in any way shape or form - I'm rotten to the core... you know, what's left for you? Pleasantries? I suppose the worst insult you could sling my way is 'Oh, he's really nice, him.'
I've been in a position before where a president has turned to me in the Oval Office in a difficult moment, without any pleasantries, and said, 'I'm asking you as your president and Commander in Chief to take command of the international security force in Afghanistan.' The only response can be, 'Yes, Mr. President.'
I was aware of something stable in his nature. Ha game me a feeling of security, as if nothing I said or did would change his opinion of me. I never found his pleasantries irksome, partly, no doubt, because he was a Viscount, but, partly, too, because I respected his self-discipline. He had very little to laugh about, I thought, and yet he laughed. His gaiety had a background of the hospital and the battlefield. I felt he had some inner reserve of strength which no reverse, however serious, would break down.
Whatever the unknown in Europe, it had to be better than the known in a small town, where truth was hidden behind smiles, pleasantries, and an abundance of stretch lace at weddings. Whatever, the yet-to-be-written truth about her own life, it seemed certain to be waiting elsewhere on a blank page, somewhere people made no attempt to predict the future based upon a person's past. Quote from: A Summer Abroad, Mrs. Duchesney's First Real Mystery c. 2013 Peggy Kopman-Owens
I mean the women who, without any of the prerogatives of youth and beauty, demand continual slavery from their men... They sit back complacently and watch their husbands slave for them; and, without furnishing any of the pleasantries of life for their husbands, they demand the sort of continual attention that a charming fiancee might get... They are harridans and shrews who continually nag and scold until the men are driven idiotic.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pedersen was always wooing her. Sometimes he was gracious and kind, but at other times when his failure wearied him he would be cruel and sardonic, with a suggestive tongue whose vice would have scourged her were it not that Marie was impervious, or too deeply inured to mind it. She always grinned at him and fobbed him off with pleasantries, whether he was amorous or acrid. 'God Almighty, ' he would groan, 'she is not good for me, this Marie. What can I do for her? She is burning me alive and the Skaggerack could not quench me, not all of it. The devil! What can I do with this? Some day I shall smash her across the eyes, yes, across the eyes.' So you see the man really loved her. ("The Tiger")
Information, defined intuitively and informally, might be something like 'uncertainty's antidote.' This turns out also to be the formal definition- the amount of information comes from the amount by which something reduces uncertainty... The higher the [information] entropy, the more information there is. It turns out to be a value capable of measuring a startling array of things- from the flip of a coin to a telephone call, to a Joyce novel, to a first date, to last words, to a Turing test... Entropy suggests that we gain the most insight on a question when we take it to the friend, colleague, or mentor of whose reaction and response we're least certain. And it suggests, perhaps, reversing the equation, that if we want to gain the most insight into a person, we should ask the question of qhose answer we're least certain... Pleasantries are low entropy, biased so far that they stop being an earnest inquiry and become ritual. Ritual has its virtues, of course, and I don't quibble with them in the slightest. But if we really want to start fathoming someone, we need to get them speaking in sentences we can't finish.