Monday, December 10, 2007

Essay by Alison Ross



Weenie Roast: In Defense of Satire
by Alison Ross

A startling statement was made by Henry Miller once. "The world is not to be put in order: the world is order incarnate. It is up to us to put ourselves in unison with this order," he said - and the world came crashing down.

I tend to agree with Miller's viewpoint. Any chaos we perceive is that of our own making, a manifestation of our narcissistic need to impose our own patterns onto the world. Miller is exhorting us to see that the world is fine as is, and our task is to simply adjust, even acquiesce to this "ordered anarchy." And so once you recognize Miller's pronouncement for the axiomatic brilliance it exudes, you are well on your path to zen-sanity. Otherwise, if you persist in urging the world
to adapt to YOU, you will forever flounder.

But on the other hand, in my murkier moments, I aggressively diverge from Miller's sentiments. The world may be perfect, but a perfect piss-pot, nothing more. Whoever reigns up in that thar sky is taking it upon him or herself to have a great big urine-party on us all. When whoever-reigns is finished with his or her piss-fest, watch out - next comes an apocalyptic flush of the toilet, god's ulimate guffaw.

This Twainian cynicism may seem a like bombastic banality to some. And, of course, don't forget that I don't invest any belief in a deity. I don't put no stock in no magical mythological fantasty. I prefer to inhabit the cosmos called Reality, and as we know, Reality has a well-known non-theistic bias.

And really, that's fine if my rowdy rhetoric comes across as trite. We must take pride in our platitudes, especially if they're true. If they're not true, well, it's still fun to annoy people with them.

Besides, my boisterous cleaving to non-theism is just my own merrily meek way of countering the god-freaks. You know,like the ones who publically pray for rain in drought-plagued Georgia (and on the capital steps, no less! Goddmamn I'm embarassed to live in this regressive redneck state sometimes). The ones who fanatically foist their foolish fairy-tales onto those of us who could give a shit about fostering illusory facades.

So anyway. Let's get a show of hands. Raise your hand if you agree with Miller that the world is unblemished as is, and it's your responsibility to assimilate into this precious perfection.

Now, raise your hand if, like Twain, you have ever wondered, "whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."

Of course, to placate the ambivalent cynic/optimist in us all, we could converge the two philosophies: "The world is run by smart people who are putting us on, and it is up to us to put ourselves in unison with their order." Or, how about this: "The world is not to be put in order, the world is order incarnate, run by imbeciles who really mean it." Yeah, I really dig that one.

Of course, I'm willing to concede that Miller wasn't urging complacency in the face of misery; rather, he was saying that we should adapt to reality however fucked up reality may be - but that doesn't mean sitting on your ass apathetically. You still become involved in order to influence change WITHIN that fucked-up reality.

The thing is, when we have myriad miseries like wars and famine and poverty and torture and everything else that sucks beyond comprehension, it's just hard for me NOT to attempt to impose my own admittedly utopian paradigm onto this wickedly warped world. In my mind the world needs a radical make-over. I don't WANT to work WITHIN the fucked-up reality; I want to flip the fucked-up reality onto its fucked-up head, and un-fuck it up.

Miller’s statement, of course, harbors existential insinuations; after all, we fear the void, because the void implies uncertainty. So, we “fill up” the void with certainty – i.e., our own ideas about how things “should be.”

And of course I am empathetic to this sentiment, and yet I am also tugged the other way, inserting my big fat “but” into the middle of it all. In the end, then, I agree with Miller theoretically, but in practice I don’t mirror his mindset at all. In practice I’m an adherent of the Twain Academy's Reality Bites Big Balls 101 method.

So one ingredient of my impossibly idealistic agenda is the vociferous championing of satire. I realize that satire's biting sarcasm seems oddly at odds with a compassionate overhaul of the world, but I actually find satire to be one of THE most compassionate tools since it seeks to right egregious wrongs through rudely rousing people awake. Satire's blunt knife stabs at people's hearts, not enough to kill them, but just enough hurt them and spur them into action.

And if satire DOESN'T work to inspire change, well then at least it's there to remind us what a bastard bunch of flippant fools we all are.

So whip out your satire-weenie and piss all over the world, that's my motto. I doubt I'll ever achieve as roaring a reputation as Twain or Miller, but hey, my words have a nice ring to them, don't they?

Of course they do, you ignorant fuck.

1 comment:

rjillfink said...

In response to a query from the press as to whether the U.S. was going to bring some or all of the troops home before 2008, the President replied, "What? Shoot, and ruin all this fun I'm havin'?"

Love the essay. You rocked it.