The Satire Paradox: Part One

by lisa st john

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Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!
How oft would vice and virtue places change!

Lord Byron‘s Don Juan

It is truly strange—that nano-moment between sleep and awake when illusion and reality look face to face. Like the lovely movie Ladyhawke where the lovers are doomed to never meet in person again. Rutget Hauer is a wolf at night when Michelle Pfeiffer is a human and she turns into a hawk during the day when he turns back to human. Helluva curse. I wish it wasn’t real. My mind teased me this morning in that nano-moment; Kent wasn’t gone, and I wasn’t a widow and then–

But that’s what makes us human, right? Caring? Suffering? Therein lies the paradox (and is the joke ever on us): we live to love and be hurt so we know what love is and what it means to hurt so we know what life is. Humph. Or is it all a big satire created to change us into better humans? Better humans. Not sure what that means. I don’t want to go all singularity right now. Better ponder that another time.

“So…ha ha, just kidding about that scotch making you feel better,” said morning head apologizing to nighttime head. But it did. But it doesn’t. Does it feel good to write a blog because of the guilt, knowing I should be grading papers instead, or in spite of it?

Truth really is stranger than fiction. Otherwise no one would believe either. It’s like Tim O’Brien so eloquently states in The Things They Carried, “That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are… Often the crazy stuff is true and the normal stuff isn’t, because the normal stuff is necessary to make you believe the truly incredible craziness.”

It’s why there are no decent shows or movies about teaching high school because no one would believe them. Do you know how many times I have uttered the phrase, “STOP touching each other!” or “Where is the rest of your skirt?!” or “Stop fucking swearing or I’m going to fucking call your mother and fucking see how she fucking likes to hear it.” They don’t like that, the students. Teachers aren’t supposed to swear. It does, however, take the shock factor out of it for them. Hee.

It makes the teacher human, being sarcastically inhumane. Are You Human? is the poignant TED Talk by Ze Frank that is worth every one of the 4 minutes and 34 seconds it will take to watch. Go ahead. I’ll be right here.

His compelling lines echoed for me this morning: Have you ever woken up blissfully and suddenly been flooded by the awful remembrance that someone had left you? Have you ever lost the ability to imagine a future without a person that no longer was in your life? Have you ever looked back on that event with the sad smile of autumn and the realization that futures will happen regardless?”

This morning he wasn’t gone, he just was… almost here.

Bad Religion says it best in their song, Stranger than Fiction. “Life is the crummiest book I’ve ever read.” And yet—that’s exactly what makes it so damn fabulous!

Maybe that is Art’s purpose. To show us the possibility of the extraordinary.

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Denise
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I hear you. I feel you. Love.

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