Monday, November 08, 2004


Mel Brooks once said that if sex isn't dirty, you aren't doing it right. I think that if blogging isn't fun, you aren't doing that right. I post for my own amusement, not to lure in ad revenue like the big-traffic bloggers. I do confess to delight in the internet equivalent of applause, namely citations, links, comments and emails. I'm pleased to have reached a larger potential audience through guesting at The American Street, because a bigger pool means I can find a few more of the microscopic percentage who enjoy my contrarian posts.

If I also do open a few eyes to new ideas, or just point out some other delightful material on the web, that's only frosting on the cake. I'm not trying to convert anyone or change governments. I believe I'm making a better world just by adding a bit more wit or gleefully prodding puffballs, regardless of whether anyone alters their own politics because of reading my stuff. My approach is more aesthetic than missionary. Painting my house may not get my neighbors to vote correctly, but the planet will be a prettier place to live.

When it comes to influences upon me, my primary exemplar must be Jonathan Swift, especially for A Modest Proposal (the full title of which "I omit, being studious of brevity.") Another model was David Ross Locke's vicious "Democratic" character Petroleum V. Nasby, whose Civil War and Reconstruction rants are unaccountably not on the web.

I found more inspiration, though less direct, in movies from The Marx Brothers ("Now don't forget when you're out there on the battlefield risking life and limb, we'll be here thinking what a sucker you are!"), the comic strip Pogo ("Just what kind of vote is you trying to attract?"), the early Mad magazine ("Arty-Morty has foiled me again!"), the early National Lampoon ("The FBI - Muscles of Liberty"), the early Cerebus The Aarkvark comic book ("We like our coincidences to only coincide once."), and some cartoons like Daffy Duck ("What do you know, it disintegrated.") and The Simpsons ("Forgive me, Don Bartholomew.")

Note how some of those are qualified by "the early". Many times I have watched an ongoing series begin in humor, then degenerate into boring pretentiousness, as the writers (or artists, or actors) began taking themselves too seriously. Compare early and late episodes of MASH, or All In The Family, or plenty of others. [I never liked those two at the start, either, but they clearly got much worse.] Mad began as uncontrolled satire; it turned into inoffensive and dull teasing of Madison Avenue and suburbia. I hope that I will know to send this blog over the Reichenbach falls should it decline to such sparkless trivia.

Although she is hopelessly liberal, Mad Kane perhaps comes closest to my outlook. She doesn't post every day, only when some muse moves her to laughter. Sometimes she points out other amusing stuff she's found, but mostly does her own parodies and poems (and even cartoons) whenever a seed sprouts. There is a cheerful lightness about her, even when she is slamming Our Noble Lame Duck.

There are others who deal in wit using words as weapons of war. The sharpest scalpel of all belongs to another lefty, Julia of the wonderfully named Sisyphus Shrugged. Like Picasso, who could capture in a few lines what lesser artists used entire pencils to portray, she can eviscerate with the greatest efficiency. After one of her fiskings, Jeanne D'Orleans of Body And Soul (not a comedienne, but a conscience) wrote "I want to watch the next State of the Union at Julia's house." I'd bring the tequila if Jeanne brought the nachos.

The incomparable H. L. Mencken commented on the later-written part of Gulliver's Travels:
In the second half there is a radical change of tone. The humor, gradually hardening, finally takes on a savagery almost unparallelled. ... It is cruel, relentless, devastating. Swift wrote to Pope in 1725 that its aim was "to vex the world, not to divert it."
So it is with some others, whose primary goal seems to be propaganda, with humor manifesting itself in an ironic frame rather than direct levity. One might call them "situation blogs". (Strangely enough, some people seem to place me in this same category.) Their comic masks peek through their serious intent sufficiently to keep them readable, even though less risible now than when they began. Two of the best are Jesus's General, supposedly a repressed rightist praising fellow patriots for their furtherance of that agenda, and The Politburo Diktat, supposedly a communist Commissar praising leftists for undermining the free world.

Two regular guilty pleasures are the lefty masters of snarkiness, TBogg and World O'Crap. Amused benevolence is not their method. Their weekly ad feminems against "America's Worst Mother" are such a disgrace that I had to mock them myself, with my impression of Shirley Jackson. Further demonstrating their selfish unconcern, they have never linked back to me.

Those two are examples of blogs I read regularly which are not permalinked on my sidebar. That highly-sought honor is reserved for those who have linked to, or at least cited, me first. I don't put people there until that happens, for I have found that many people seem peculiarly lacking in enthusiasm for the type of material herein. Some emails I've gotten have been shockingly obscene. Hence I wait to be asked to dance.

Why has this list been so heavy with liberals? Frankly because I don't need to read conservatives or libertarians to know what to think. Insty does not have to tell me war is "a good thing", Chucky can't add to my antipathy to Islamofarcialists, Mishy need not inform me that leftists are unspeakably evil, Janey couldn't make me oppose the income tax any more, and Andy would never have to persuade me to vote against Kerry -- oh, wait, that one didn't quite work out for him. Never mind.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com