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Life

Here’s Why I Write Satire

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.

Francis drops this

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.

George Orwell uses satire to address the subject of the Russian revolution

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.

Jonathan Swift uses satire to take about the nature of humans

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.

Feminism is not a man-hating hobby

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.

Satire on the privilege of the patriarchy and the archaic roles that women have to adhere to

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.

Satire on elitism, the rich and the new rich

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 on how a privileged few with their toxic masculinity use both men and women as objects of sexual gratification

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.

Categories
Life

Why Art Matters

Let’s talk about books, about paintings; and, all things art. There are plenty of reasons why art matters, and you will realize that the reason for its importance has changed throughout many decades.

Certain things are just waiting patiently to be explored. And that exploration can lead to a change in conversation, and, possibly, a change in culture. For instance, we hear of art in its various forms that had shifted antediluvian attitudes towards women in this era.

Art is a gift, which needs to be generously shared with the world, irrespective of accolades or compensation. Make something that’s worth reading or deciphering so that it’s an idea that spreads. I wrote Crimson Spaces: Art as a Medium of Connectedness which offers an insightful look into what art actually can become. As you would have gleaned from the latter article — Art is carved by the agency of human emotion.

Why Art Matters?

Dillai Joseph’s painting titled Lady From The East — It’s an exploration of the human condition: A Woman Who Has Seen It All

Art, in my opinion, is the exploration of the human condition; and, the human condition is about overcoming adversity. And that’s beautiful since adversity has this dark way of introducing a man to himself. Art is doing that brave thing which is original and human to change someone for the better. 

For instance, art can reflect the zeitgeist of a certain time, like, Britain and the Pre-Raphaelites where art was used to counter the effects of brutal industrialization. Periodically, art has violated the canons of current literary taste during that time to evolve into something else. 

Still, art does have some other uses: art keeps us hopeful, art makes us less lonely, art rebalances us, art helps us to appreciate stuff, and art is propaganda for what really matters. Suffice to say art with its tumultuous imagery bivouacs in our brains for quite a long period of time. 

What Does History Say?

Another painting from Dillai Joseph titled Praying Hands — It is another exploration of the human condition where faith and hope collides

Christian art dominated Europe for a very generous 1000 years by making the whole monotheistic doctrine resonanting, emotionally attractive and incredibly appealing. 

The question of the purpose of art is a modern dilemma, one that didn’t exist in bourgeois society in history. Modern art tried to escape bourgeois society. Ironic that it ended up alienated from the general public and only enlightened millionaires can understand the complexity and mystery of an urinal or senseless colors splashed in a canvas. 

Why do artists offer part of themselves on such a prolific level? It is to connect with others. This generosity gives credence to an artist, and helps him or her to connect and garner a following. 

What I Think Art Means

I take on the position of Théophile Gautier who in 1833 stated — l’art pour l’art or art for art’s sake yet I sympathize with a different definition as well. Art had been an excellent tool for a myriad of intentions, but this is probably something that needs to be done away with. On the other hand, we hear of Marcel Duchamp who desires that art stands to be enigmatic, provocative and reeking of mystery. 

With capitalism being in the forefront of the world in 2020, artists today have become defenders of unfettered free enterprise, and, rightfully so. From reflecting on poverty and its issues, art today has become a veritable tour de force where it is the hobby of the super rich. From the Venice Biennale to art by Banksy, the investment in art is magnanimous. But let’s not forget the real meaning of art, one that Gautier would disagree with, which is to help us understand and appreciate the human condition.