2.7.2021 – American Satire

American Satire
American Reality
Where does one stop, start?

In answer to the question, in a recent interview, “Do you consider yourself a satirist,?”, satirist Fran Lebowitz said, “In a way, yes, but, American reality has been so extreme of late that satire is almost impossible. Anything you could possible imagine actually happens. It would stump Jonathan Swift.”

It was Jonathon Swift who wrote, “Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind reception it meets with in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.”

I have to admit I am not sure what this all means.

I think it boils down to, you can’t make this stuff up.

How did a national response to a global pandemic become a political statement based on wearing or not wearing a mask?

Ms. Lebowitz also said in this same interview:

When I was young there was a very strict idea of the boundary between the public and the private life.

So, things that you might do in the privacy of your bedroom, you wouldn’t do on 12th St.

That seems to have disappeared entirely and it is not just the young; it’s true even of people my age, who were brought up in a certain way and then forgot about it.

It is surprising to me just how unconscious people are of themselves in public, considering how much more acceptable it has become to think about yourself all the time”

Is that the answer to the question?

Consider how much more acceptable it has become to think about yourself all the time.

I like Ms. Leibowitz a lot.

Just when you think she has gone off into the happy world of hyperbole and complains that New York City spent $40 million dollars researching how to and then putting lawn chairs in Times Square, you find out she was telling the truth.

When I consider how much more acceptable it has become to think about yourself all the time, I am reminded of an essay on the future by one of my favorite writers, Michigan’s Own, Bruce Catton.

Mr. Catton wrote, “The dismaying world we confront was given its vast intricacy and its perilous speed by human beings. The one basic resource we have always had to rely on is the innate intelligence, energy and good will of the human race. It is facing an enormous challenge, but then it always has; and it meets each one only to confront another. If now we give way to the gloom of the apostles of catastrophe we are of course in the deepest sort of trouble. The old reliance is at our service. It can bear us up if we put out full weight on it.”

This is where that comment of Ms. Leibowtiz comes in to play.

American reality has been so extreme of late that satire is almost impossible.

Anything you could possible imagine actually happens.

If we have to rely on the innate intelligence, energy and good will of the human race while at the sane time we consider how much more acceptable it has become to think about yourself all the time I think we are of course in the deepest sort of trouble.

Not something I would dare put my weight on at this time.

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