Sometimes, people ask me how I got my start as an author of satirical novels. And the basic answer was that I used to be a blogger and advocate for what we’d now call “cancel culture”. As tends to happen in that particular territory, if you don’t race to the front of the line whenever there’s a call to destroy something, the mob gets restless and comes for you. So I’ve been accused of just about everything you can imagine, including having raced a truck full of illegal beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. (I will totally admit that the last one was started by myself, to see if I could get someone to unironically accuse me of the plot of the Burt Reynolds movie “Smokey And The Bandit”. In my defense, I didn’t think anyone would do it.)
How I Became A Satirist
One of the sweetest but weirdest things that happens in my life is when people express sympathy for horrible things of which I’m accused.
It’s very kind, because I really appreciate the sympathy and the well-wishes, but I’ve almost never heard the allegation.
I don’t just mean that I didn’t know I was accused of it; I mean I generally don’t know the allegation existed.
I am often reminded of a quote that’s sometimes attributed to Joan Rivers, wherein her husband says, “Honey, how come you never tell me when you’re having an orgasm?”, and Ms. Rivers replies, “But darling, you’re never there!”
Today, a cancelled friend of mine offered me very kind condolences that I was taking attacks for having defended her and having said that, based on a vast superabundance of evidence, testimony, and just plain common sense, I did not think she was a monster.
The problem is, whatever bunch of people are attacking me have clearly all got me blocked on Twitter. So I haven’t the faintest idea what they’re saying, nor do I care.
One of the most naive (okay, I’ll be more honest: one of the most idiotic) things I heard, when the allegations first came out, was that a public figure must act in a manner so far beyond reproach that no-one could possibly accuse you of anything.
This might exist in a society which believes in truth, investigation, information, and weighing data in some kind of vacuum – a world where was ask, “Based on what we can find, what should we believe?”
But we don’t live in that world, of course. We live in a world of “Based on what our particular bubble wants to believe, what shall we decide is true?” There’s no real difference, in that Universe, between a distorted truth, a distorted lie, or an absolute and utter fiction. You could live your entire life in front of continuous surveillance, and be more blameless than any saint or angel, and all that’s necessary is for someone to say, “Just look at the way the subject blinked right there; you can tell that he’s thinking of vaporizing every kitten in existence; that MONSTER!”
Am I complaining? Oh, HELL no.
I’m going to keep writing dystopian novels, of course. And my goal in life? I’m going to keep TRYING to make the insane, ridiculous, parodic, satirical landscapes I dream up stay even VAGUELY surreal for at least long enough that I can publish something BEFORE it becomes an accurate prediction of our unbelievable reality.
I’ll never succeed; if you could clone C.S. Lewis, H.L. Mencken, and Lillian Hellman, and merge them into one entity able to type with six hands at once, that being couldn’t actually model the madness which is our daily lives.
But I’ll keep trying. Because I love a challenge.
Thank you, dear friend, for your sympathy. But don’t worry about me. I’ve long past the point of suffering from the insanity of our existence; now, I can’t help but see it as more material for countless books of what would, in some less ridiculous plane of existence, be satire; here, of course, they’re just history books, slightly dated, and overly optimistic. But I’m in good company; who would have thought that “Brave New World”, “1984”, and “The Devil’s Dictionary” were works of starry-eyed futuristic optimism?