Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Best & Worst Friend a Satirist can Have

A couple weeks ago, a friend/acquaintance challenged some statements I've been making about my beliefs over the last couple years. He rankled me quite a bit with questions, but he provided me with a service useful enough to make my injured pride worthwhile. The exchange between the two of us has forced me to craft my statements and "argument" better.

First, the encounter with said friend/acquaintance reminded me that I have used belief statements in this discourse as satire, not as literal belief statements. I will not provide the belief statements here because they drastically violate numerous taboos of society. I wish I could compare the statements in question to Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, but I lack the experienced genius of Jonathan Swift.

In the long run, though, any dumb ass asking questions could remind me that I say these belief statements in the spirit of satire. My friend/acquaintance brought an extra quality to his challenges that a dumb ass couldn't. He brought intense, incisive rationality to his criticism of my satirical statements. I don't always agree with this guy's conclusions, but I can appreciate his dedication to weeding out inconsistency, lack of thought and lack of rationality.

Satire can't stand up to such attacks and generally aren’t supposed to. Satire, if anything but not as an exclusive characteristic, has the intention of exposing such lapses of rationality and evidence in the thinking of people and groups. By taking arguments to extremes or stubbornly supporting beliefs, statements, tradition and particular issues that can't weather coherent rationality, reason and empirical evidence, the propounded rationale gets exposed to the world as absurd and foolish.

My satirical statements haven't done a good job getting my point across. They don't address the issues that I wish to attack while showing the issues to be absurd and not something worthwhile to agree with.

Rather, I made the statements absurd for the sake of outlandishness. Instead of getting people to stop and re-think their beliefs, it just comes off as trying to attract attention for the sake of getting attention. Occasionally the belief statements get a chuckle, but they don't make a point.

Having your arguments and thoughts torn apart, even when done in jest and satire, never provides for a night of fun. Such embarrassing experiences can provide incidental benefits, though. They can cause you to re-think and re-evaluate your satirical belief statements, the effect of the statements, the effect of all the statements together and remind you of the effect you want to accomplish.

The intense and relentless rational, incisive and critical friend/acquaintance can make the best and worst friend to the satirist, much like an editor to any writer. The satirist can have all their hard work, intellect and self esteem destroyed in the fell swoop of such an individual. After licking their wounds, however, the satirist can learn a lot from the destructive encounter. They can use their lessons to improve their work and craft.

The destruction doesn't happen for any metaphysical or teleological reason. Synchronicity occurs in our lives. Statistically, among six billion people in the world and multiplicity of phenomena that can occur, opportunities to learn will come about from random events. A satirist would be wise to identify these opportunities, no matter how much it can hurt their pride and use them as editorial lessons.

I plan on doing so.

Links of Interest: satire, Jonathan Swift's, A Modest Proposal