It would be an understatement to say that I love reading, and that I also love writing. This post is about why I write satire and also why satire is important in a free and democratic setting. To put it succinctly, if there’s one regret I have in life is that there’s just not enough time to read all the great books that are out there in the world.
There’s just one book I have given up on reading and that was 13 Reasons Why. I felt guilty doing so since it would be a waste not to read. It was a good call, though. (Francis Bacon would nod in agreement.) That book is a waste of pages. I realized that it’s better to give up reading a book if you don’t connect with it since you’re just wasting precious time.
But, Why Satire?
Like I said I love writing, and that alone should offer you an indication as to why I write satire. There’s this excellent article I read called 30 Year Thinking by Nat Eliason. It’s a great article about investing time and effort into skills that you know you’d never give up on, and what you’d like doing for the vast majority of your life. Writing and reading are free, and have a great deal of benefits, which go beyond cognitive and artistic benefits.
Growing up, I recall how writing along with art was, at one time, regarded as a dead-end job. Science was regarded highly. It’s great to see that this perspective has changed. I never chose writing as a profession because it would be lucrative, but, in this era, it has become exactly that. Just like anything in life, you need to practice and practice away at your craft, so that you’re good at it.
So, why satire? Well, because it just goes beyond the creative aspect of writing. Satire is used to point at the stupidity of the world. It is a tool to help the reader analyse their own human nature and know where they have erred.
The novel Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift was a satirical piece aimed at tackling the nature of humans. One of the most famous scenes in the story is when the main character interacts with the tiny people of Lilliput, satire is used here in the height of the heels worn by the men as a way to mock the Whigs and Tories of the British government.
In Animal Farm written by George Orwell, satire is used as a way of addressing the subject of the Russian revolution, this is perhaps one of the most famous examples of satirical literature in the world. In Catch 22 written by Joseph Heller, there are plenty of examples of satire throughout the piece. One of the most notable is the general ideal of the Catch 22, which the writer uses as a way to talk about the lack of logic often seen in bureaucracy.
Enter The Sunday Morning
I spent a great many years working at some of the top advertising agencies in Sri Lanka. It was a great time, and I managed to work with some excellent brands. But, in terms of having a rewarding experience I would think that it was working as a feature journalist and editor at a lifestyle magazine that made me most content. Covid-19 did away with the publishing industry, and I transitioned into the tech industry.
The tech industry is proving to be a completely different ball game altogether; however, it is something that I’m enthusiastic about when it comes to learning. Life is short, and learning transcends the excitement that power and money can extend to you. That said I missed creative writing, which is why I was excited when I was invited to have my own column at one of Sri Lanka’s best newspapers.
I may have started out as a creative writer, but I wanted to move onto other types of writing as well. I’ve done business writing and technical writing. I just want to have the bragging rights knowing that I can do it all. Writing is an experience, and it’s important to me that I can experience it all.
This was why I jumped at the invitation to have my own column on The Sunday Morning called Colombo Confessions. It’s a column that has a light-hearted and satirical view of Colombo and it’s denizens. I admit that at times, it does take on a very caustic viewpoint, but then the subject matter happens to be rather heavy, too. How else is one supposed to talk about sexual harassment, elitism and sexual intrigue?
Satire, I’ll admit, is not everyone’s cup of tea, but what a brew it is, and that alone is a good enough reason to write satire. Call it a curse or a blessing, but the fact is that writers are empathetic creatures. We observe and we feel. And most of the time, we feel too much. This desire to feel and extend our feelings onto paper is like consuming alcohol. There is that initial high which segues into a feeling of satiation that lulls you into a sense of bliss. This is another reason why I write satire. I’ve never done drugs (except for alcohol, which technically, is a drug) and never will, but, I guess, there is a thrill in chasing that high quite like chasing the dragon.
Satire Is Necessary
Remember that in a world where there is not much choice, to even think beyond the cookie-cutter norms that have been set up by the status quo is an act of revolution per se. Your voice matters as do your own individuality. This is why it is important to express generously. In what is supposedly regarded as a free and democratic world, our way of expressing is the ultimate challenge of the status quo.
Why I write satire is because satire is great in the sense that it has a complete lack of boring and reasonable moderation, and with the subject matter that is addressed, there is no other option either. As an empathetic writer who does possess a certain degree of sensitivity, the pen is that almighty tool used to create awareness of issues and disparities in society. Satirical literature calls attention to these issues and can make readers aware of something they had not been previously considered or understood.