Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Beyond Satire

I just did a tag search on my previous blog and discovered that I had written three entries with the tag "satire." The first of these was written in praise of Assimilated Press, which I felt had displaced The Onion as my favorite (if not the best) source for satirical journalism. The Assimilated Press post that inspired my writing had the headline, "Kansas Farmer See Cheney's Face In Cowpie;" and what I realized from reading it is the way in which satire presents "reality with far more accuracy than conventional prose could ever do."

What happens, then, when a site with such a reputation for quality satire comes out with a "modest proposal" that actually deserves to be taken seriously? Such I fell is the case with today's Assimilated Press post, "A Call To Arms On The War On Error." The premise may be a play on the words of a phrase that has been beaten into meaninglessness by media propaganda, but the result has more meaning than we expect from most media sources. Here is the core of the message:

We need a War on Error that looks extremely closely at any reasoning calling for war with Iran. We need a War on Error that looks coolly and dispassionately on sending more troops to Iraq while not having enough troops in Afghanistan. We need a War on Error to find out where, exactly, the money promised to New Orleans and surrounding areas went, and for what, and to whom, and when was it sent and why has so little been accomplished?

We need a War on Error on all of the candidates from both parties. We didn't elect them to run around the country, raise money and create sound bites. We elected them to stay in the House and the Senate and do their jobs: preventing further errors from happening and fixing the errors that exist.

This is not the satirical language of Swift's "Modest Proposal;" it is the straight talk of Paine's "Common Sense." I applaud both the basic argument and the five "action items" derived from that argument.

My only concern is that this "pamphlet" will not receive the attention it deserves because Assimilated Press readers may be disappointed that it is not satire. It is the sort of thing that I would have expected to read on Truthdig, and it would be unfortunate if the Truthdig reader base remained unaware of it. Of course one of the advantages of a blog is that, as the author, you have no explicit constraints on what you can and cannot submit as a post. However, when a blog begins to develop a reputation for its posts, that reputation can engender reader expectations; and the author then faces an interesting problem in "managing the change" (to use MBA-speak) of those expectations. Novelists and filmmakers are well aware of this problem, and perhaps it is also a consequences of what happens when one's blog actually begins to cultivate a reader base!

1 comment:

pinko said...

Thank you for your kind words and for promoting the post on your blog. I'll check with my editor, Virt, to see if he has any problems with my posting the same piece on Truthdig.