Hypocritical Cant, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Un Ispettore Depta Adventure; L’occhio Che Non Dorme Mai …

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Mile End, Emotions & Morals (Prima Parte)

One cannot help but to feel oneself spiritually elevated, elevated! By the Boticelli and Titian works that hang upon these walls, though of course, this being Mile End, the works are mere fraudulent copies; bequeathed to the Artistic Museum by the Bow Street Detective force in one instance (The Venus) most regretfully!  

But, let us not dwell on that but rather let us note, dear reader, the most prestigious Curate of the Mile End Artistic Museum, as he most surreptitiously guides his elegant guests  betwixt the many rich and lyrical works that grace the walls of this ninth wonder of the British Empire.

“Little is known of Domenico Venziano the master of Francisco De La Pella, but what little remains of his work has a most lyrical beauty as you may see here. Note, the carefree yet harmonious study of design, the manner in which he depicts the naked Judas Iscariot, an image not of ignominious shame as in the mediaeval mind, but of elegance, of grace” and having so noted, his guests, the infamous Baron Montaperti, Lord Orlando Ottoline and his muse, the stage actress Mrs Madeline Drang, move on.

“I am told that the best art is always true to the great, glad, aboriginal instincts of our nature. Never representing disease in the guise of health, many sided without being unbalanced, and forcible! Yes forcible! Without ever losing the fine sense of proportion!”

Lord Orlando Ottoline is quite in agreement,

“Yes, quite exquisite and most extraordinary!”

“The painting?”

“The sum paid for it. I am told Mr Disraeli paid some five hundred British Pounds?”

“Five hundred sterling and hundred shillings and fifty pence, is the correct sum, I should know having brokered the deal”

“Why?”

“The good lord knows, though one must confess it hangs as handsomely within Mile End Art Gallery, as the brigands do without! Haw haw haw!”

Baron (lately Lord) Montaperti is most taken with his own sense of humour though his companions are at a loss as to why they have been invited to peruse copies of paintings hung in some East End haunt, when they might be perusing the latest painting by Edward Lear at the Royal Academy of Art.   

“Though it may be said that the dead soil of art grows ever richer with the addition of new works, it is to be observed that there can be no improvement on the ancient works we have hung here, and that (copies though they are), they are a worthy and most enlightening addition to the culture of Mile End”

Wonder at the elegance of the curate of the Artistic Museum, his dignified presence and the cut of his jib, as glossy as that of a new bought gelding. What shapely legs! What an elegant figure! What costly attire and all of it most graciously provided by the Society for the Suppression of Mendacity!

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Mile End’s Depths! Christoffer Harlow’s London! (Seconda Parte)

Trees that live long grow slowly, and like a mighty Oak, that highly prized jewel of many an English Forest, London has been fought over again and again; indeed she has been so brutally captured & so thoroughly ravaged that t’is a wonder she is able to arise time & again untainted & unpolluted by the dank & dismal deeds of her direst (and most sinistrous) conquerors. To such infusoria (the historically deranged & the lunatick) history pays little heed, and so the earliest rulers of London have passed away like the beasts they fought and slew, and their very names and heinous legacies have passed on with them.

Save one such legacy (most sinister & also sinistrous) well hidden some six feet beneath a graveyard in Mile End. Very likely it is hidden even deeper than that, for it is a fragment of a much earlier London, a muddied and fossilized place resonant of a vicious savagery born of frenzied spiritual ardour.In that place lie tombs, keys, weapons and roughly hewn statues of he whose most glorious essence (one dare not utter his name!) lingers still over our England (though his most ardent followers have lately fallen into scandal).

Mile End is a place of little import famed only as the home of Reverend Unctuous, he who having lately fallen from grace, abides infrequently at the chaplaincy of St Mary Produndis. St Mary Profundis, whose graveyard is now the burial place of one Master Hemphill-Skinner; he whose most unfortunate end at the hands (some say) of The Right Honourable Ethelbert-Smythe (lately committed to Bethel Asylum), has since passed into the lore of the Bow Street Detective Force.

But I digress, dear reader, for Mile End’s depths harbour a secret of much portentous and direst import. A secret (post-pagan and Pre-Christian) buried so long and only lately resurrected beneath that vast ocean that is London, that one must bear in mind the words of that infamous playwright Christoffer Harlow ‘the refined gent is struck with Mile-End as comprehending all that is most intriguing about London life at it’s most exhaustively principled, and inexhaustibly depraved’.

I could scarce disagree, for Mile End’s inhabitants are so multifarious that to touch upon the accomplishments of the good and the great, is to inadvertently lean upon the heinous doings of that other sort. Those whom we deign to refer to as the bludgers & buttock twangers, the sneak thieves and coves of the British Empire’s great proletariat, race.

To be continued…….

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Francis Page

Alas! The Iniquity of Mammon! (Parte Terza)

How desolate & cold the Mile End Graveyard is, above stairs & below stars where cold stone tablets commemorate the abode of the dead! Yet it is colder & still more desolate below ground, there, where, a secret monastery (centuries old) nests, & hellish intrigues newly bred, abound, simmer & brood. A phantasmagoria of shadow-studies flickers against the algae covered walls of that ancient, pungent & putrid abode, of secretive worship. Half worn candles trickle tallow till the grimy sconces in which they have been placed brim over with wax, whilst the secretive, cowled gathering sits in disapproving counsel. For they have, one and all, sanctified themselves to the advancement & exalting of the essence of Gove, but there is one standing in the midst of them who has fallen beside the way.

“Is it to be wondered at that I covet money? I am beset by misfortune ! By the head of Gove I am maimed, crippled, by usury! The debts I carry (out of sheer necessity I own) are a monstrous thing! I stand tormented by creditors!”

“Many of whom you beleaguer with threats of physical assault? Yes brother, so we have heard”

“Tell me brothers is there nothing you can do? I must needs have funds, there is a necessity for me to have moneys!”

“From what place soever, and from whomsoever brother?! Would you have the brotherhood pile infamy on top of infamy now that, the other scandal has scarce abated? Why, Master Ethelbert-Smythe has scarce been confined a year in Bethlem Asylum & we must needs find a means of silencing that embarrassment! Would you add to our woes still further, brother?”

Lord Elderberry’s face is flush with anger but he suppresses it, his uncle has been peremptorily returned by the brotherhood to a French mental asylum (St Bacchanalia’s Asylum having been torched to the ground) & his aunt has been reinstated as the rightful heir of the estate. As a consequence his position financial is most precarious & he must needs throw himself at the feet of those who, though they despise him, still have most extensive need of his services.

“Brother I stand before you now sanctified as to the essence of Gove, for is it not in his name that I have denied myself & embraced that reckless devotion to self-ennoblement some deign to call politics? It it not as a consequence of this that I now stand here before you, teetering on the brink of ruin? I tell you I must have money!”

With chubby hands clasped gently a’fore his cassock Father Domitius glares calmly at the inveterate fool stood before him. Had the sweet essence of Gove come to this? Driven from polite society, estranged (temporarily) from the sweet embrace of empire? Forced to extend the palm of help to those it would have (previously) summarily jettisoned? Was this the fate awaiting them all? Darwinian annihilation by the hands of the brotherhoods most dissipated & inebriated members? What then of Father Malthus? What indeed. Surveying the hard faces of those around him, & the trembling figure of the one before him, Father Domitius smiled, sweetly, “Come, come Lord Elderberry,your interests would be best served if you were to couch your current predicament more gently, you may need money but we are under no pressing unction to provide it!”. Pressing his pale & sweaty palms against the arms of his stone throne the eminent Father Domitius raised himself out of his seat & shuffled a few steps toward Lord Elderberry who flinched & took a few steps back. “Nevertheless we have already spoken to your creditors who, at our command, have agreed to absolve you of your debts”.

“Oh Sweet Gove! Oh my Lord! My Lord! Sweet, sweet Father Domitius!” did ever a one as treacherous as this, clasp the plump hand proffered coldly towards his person so gratefully? Dear reader one could almost sob with pity! For in the matter of the needless granting of moneys the brotherhood shows no remorse, no, not even to its own.

“Sound or unsound there is our decision” Father Domitius glared at all around him,”There is however one caveat to our decision” and the good father stooping towards the ear of his most degenerate acolyte, whispered his request.

Alas, dear reader, the candles nestled in their sconces having all but guttered we must leave this unpretty scene much as we entered it, shuddering and with much apprehension. Above the graveyard of Mile End the skies are emblazoned by dawn? But what is this lurking in the shadowy doorway of the tiny chapel with his ebony cane clepted close to hand? Could that be the newly minted Detective Inspector Qwinty?

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Doth Not He That Pondereth The Heart Consider It? (Parte Quarta)

The time has come when it should be said that those responsible for our country now stand on the very threshold of eternal glory or eternal shame. The wages of sin is death: What are the wages of those who fail in an hour like this?”

The mistress of 5 Gulliver Place is at home & breakfasting a most singular gent,  the maid (an adolescent child new blossomed into womanhood), serves her mistress silently, her eyes alighting from time to time on the handsome looking cove whose twinkling gaze from time to time flickers toward her bustle, alights on the gabled window and then flickers back.

“Are they not sick of the sight of the battlefield with its poor suffering wounded, for I myself confess that victory has no charms for me when purchased at such a price!”

“You’ve lost a mere ten guineas by it, why ponder the consequence?”

Mrs Fard fingers a slip of toast which she has elegantly buttered with a mere sliver of a knife, ponders it then lets it fall uneaten upon a a beautifully wrought porcelain plate (recently brought to her from Florence), she has her figure to think of after all. Why is he here at this time? It is so early in the day that not even twittering of larks may be heard. His consciense can’t be troubling him can it? Why the man has sundered many a lake incarnadine to get this far & now, on the cusp of governing the Thames itself will he lose nowse? She doubts it, there must be some other reason for his sitting here, relating the latest humiliations brought on by the Crimea War.

“You err Amelia! So certain was I that we’d defeat the blighters I wagered thirty!”

“More fool you Lauri, finis origine pendet, the end depends wholly on the beginning, I forget which lord told me that, save that he was a-tween the sheets when he did so. Why are you here dearest?”

“An officer of the law was spotted at Mile End Chapel, I thought you had them under your control dearest?”

“As I speak two slumber upstairs, I’ve boarded many an officer in my time, but the Mile End Peelers? My dear they are beyond the pale! Who was it sighted an officer taking the air in a graveyard my darling? Mayhap he was in his cups when he did so!”

Amelia snorted with derision, she’d been a bawd for twenty five year (a brothel madam for ten of those) and she’d yet to meet an officer worth his salt save one, and his kingdom lay at Spitalsfield’s gates.

“Tush dear! Careful with that mouth! Az you forgot what you crawled from to come so far? Them as brought you thus far on the wings of their bedsheets can as easily toss you back az you forgot that? Az you forgot what we iz ‘melia? I ain’t! There’s not an inch of this matter left uncovered by me, not one!”

“Who was spotted? I know all there is!”

“Aven’t I tole yer? Aven’t I said? An officer! A Bow Street officer!”

To be continued……

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, The Advantages of Affluence

Doth Not He That Pondereth The Heart Consider It?

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“The time has come when it should be said that those responsible for our country now stand on the very threshold of eternal glory or eternal shame. The wages of sin is death: What are the wages of those who fail in an hour like this?”

The mistress of 5 Gulliver Place is at home & breakfasting a most singular gent,  the maid (an adolescent child new blossomed into womanhood), serves her mistress silently, her eyes alighting from time to time on the handsome looking cove whose twinkling gaze from time to time flickers toward her bustle, alights on the gabled window and then flickers back.

“Are they not sick of the sight of the battlefield with its poor suffering wounded, for I myself confess that victory has no charms for me when purchased at such a price!”

“You’ve lost a mere ten guineas by it, why ponder the consequence?”

Mrs Fard fingers a slip of toast which she has elegantly buttered with a mere sliver of a knife, ponders it then lets it fall uneaten upon a a beautifully wrought porcelain plate (recently brought to her from Florence), she has her figure to think of after all. Why is he here at this time? It is so early in the day that not even twittering of larks may be heard. His consciense can’t be troubling him can it? Why the man has sundered many a lake incarnadine to get this far & now, on the cusp of governing the Thames itself will he lose nowse? She doubts it, there must be some other reason for his sitting here, relating the latest humiliations brought on by the Crimea War.

“You err Amelia! So certain was I that we’d defeat the blighters I wagered thirty!”

“More fool you Lauri, finis origine pendet, the end depends wholly on the beginning, I forget which lord told me that, save that he was a-tween the sheets when he did so. Why are you here dearest?”

“An officer of the law was spotted at Mile End Chapel, I thought you had them under your control dearest?”

“As I speak two slumber upstairs, I’ve boarded many an officer in my time, but the Mile End Peelers? My dear they are beyond the pale! Who was it sighted an officer taking the air in a graveyard my darling? Mayhap he was in his cups when he did so!”

Amelia snorted with derision, she’d been a bawd for twenty five year (a brothel madam for ten of those) and she’d yet to meet an officer worth his salt save one, and his kingdom lay at Spitalsfield’s gates.

“Tush dear! Careful with that mouth! Az you forgot what you crawled from to come so far? Them as brought you thus far on the wings of their bedsheets can as easily toss you back az you forgot that? Az you forgot what we iz ‘melia? I ain’t! There’s not an inch of this matter left uncovered by me, not one!”

“Who was spotted? I know all there is!”

“Aven’t I tole yer? Aven’t I said? An officer! A Bow Street officer!”

To be continued……

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Hypocritical Cant, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Alas! The Iniquity of Mammon!

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How desolate & cold the Mile End Graveyard is, above stairs & below stars where cold stone tablets commemorate the abode of the dead! Yet it is colder & still more desolate below ground, there, where, a secret monastery (centuries old) nests, & hellish intrigues newly bred, abound, simmer & brood. A phantasmagoria of shadow-studies flickers against the algae covered walls of that ancient, pungent & putrid abode, of secretive worship. Half worn candles trickle tallow till the grimy sconces in which they have been placed brim over with wax, whilst the secretive, cowled gathering sits in disapproving counsel. For they have, one and all, sanctified themselves to the advancement & exalting of the essence of Gove, but there is one standing in the midst of them who has fallen beside the way.

“Is it to be wondered at that I covet money? I am beset by misfortune ! By the head of Gove I am maimed, crippled, by usury! The debts I carry (out of sheer necessity I own) are a monstrous thing! I stand tormented by creditors!”

“Many of whom you beleaguer with threats of physical assault? Yes brother, so we have heard”

“Tell me brothers is there nothing you can do? I must needs have funds, there is a necessity for me to have moneys!”

“From what place soever, and from whomsoever brother?! Would you have the brotherhood pile infamy on top of infamy now that, the other scandal has scarce abated? Why, Master Ethelbert-Smythe has scarce been confined a year in Bethlem Asylum & we must needs find a means of silencing that embarrassment! Would you add to our woes still further, brother?”

Lord Elderberry’s face is flush with anger but he suppresses it, his uncle has been peremptorily returned by the brotherhood to a French mental asylum (St Bacchanalia’s Asylum having been torched to the ground) & his aunt has been reinstated as the rightful heir of the estate. As a consequence his position financial is most precarious & he must needs throw himself at the feet of those who, though they despise him, still have most extensive need of his services.

“Brother I stand before you now sanctified as to the essence of Gove, for is it not in his name that I have denied myself & embraced that reckless devotion to self-ennoblement some deign to call politics? It it not as a consequence of this that I now stand here before you, teetering on the brink of ruin? I tell you I must have money!”

 

With chubby hands clasped gently a’fore his cassock Father Domitius glares calmly at the inveterate fool stood before him. Had the sweet essence of Gove come to this? Driven from polite society, estranged (temporarily) from the sweet embrace of empire? Forced to extend the palm of help to those it would have (previously) summarily jettisoned? Was this the fate awaiting them all? Darwinian annihilation by the hands of the brotherhoods most dissipated & inebriated members? What then of Father Malthus? What indeed. Surveying the hard faces of those around him, & the trembling figure of the one before him, Father Domitius smiled, sweetly, “Come, come Lord Elderberry,your interests would be best served if you were to couch your current predicament more gently, you may need money but we are under no pressing unction to provide it!”. Pressing his pale & sweaty palms against the arms of his stone throne the eminent Father Domitius raised himself out of his seat & shuffled a few steps toward Lord Elderberry who flinched & took a few steps back. “Nevertheless we have already spoken to your creditors who, at our command, have agreed to absolve you of your debts”.

“Oh Sweet Gove! Oh my Lord! My Lord! Sweet, sweet Father Domitius!” did ever a one as treacherous as this, clasp the plump hand proffered coldly towards his person so gratefully? Dear reader one could almost sob with pity! For in the matter of the needless granting of moneys the brotherhood shows no remorse, no, not even to its own.

“Sound or unsound there is our decision” Father Domitius glared at all around him,”There is however one caveat to our decision” and the good father stooping towards the ear of his most degenerate acolyte, whispered his request.

Alas, dear reader, the candles nestled in their sconces having all but guttered we must leave this unpretty scene much as we entered it, shuddering and with much apprehension. Above the graveyard of Mile End the skies are emblazoned by dawn? But what is this lurking in the shadowy doorway of the tiny chapel with his ebony cane clepted close to hand? Could that be the newly minted Detective Inspector Qwinty?

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

Mile End’s Depths! Christoffer Harlow’s London!

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Trees that live long grow slowly, and like a mighty Oak, that highly prized jewel of many an English Forest, London has been fought over again and again; indeed she has been so brutally captured & so thoroughly ravaged that t’is a wonder she is able to arise time & again untainted & unpolluted by the dank & dismal deeds of her direst (and most sinistrous) conquerors. To such infusoria (the historically deranged & the lunatick) history pays little heed, and so the earliest rulers of London have passed away like the beasts they fought and slew, and their very names and heinous legacies have passed on with them.

Save one such legacy (most sinister & also sinistrous) well hidden some six feet beneath a graveyard in Mile End. Very likely it is hidden even deeper than that, for it is a fragment of a much earlier London, a muddied and fossilized place resonant of a vicious savagery born of frenzied spiritual ardour.In that place lie tombs, keys, weapons and roughly hewn statues of he whose most glorious essence (one dare not utter his name!) lingers still over our England (though his most ardent followers have lately fallen into scandal). 

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Mile End is a place of little import famed only as the home of Reverend Unctuous, he who having lately fallen from grace, abides infrequently at the chaplaincy of St Mary Produndis. St Mary Profundis, whose graveyard is now the burial place of one Master Hemphill-Skinner; he whose most unfortunate end at the hands (some say) of The Right Honourable Ethelbert-Smythe (lately committed to Bethel Asylum), has since passed into the lore of the Bow Street Detective Force.

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But I digress, dear reader, for Mile End’s depths harbour a secret of much portentous and direst import. A secret (post-pagan and Pre-Christian) buried so long and only lately resurrected beneath that vast ocean that is London, that one must bear in mind the words of that infamous playwright Christoffer Harlow ‘the refined gent is struck with Mile-End as comprehending all that is most intriguing about London life at it’s most exhaustively principled, and inexhaustibly depraved’.

I could scarce disagree, for Mile End’s inhabitants are so multifarious that to touch upon the accomplishments of the good and the great, is to inadvertently lean upon the heinous doings of that other sort. Those whom we deign to refer to as the bludgers & buttock twangers, the sneak thieves and coves of the British Empire’s great proletariat, race.

To be continued…….

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Of Mile End, Emotions & Morals

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One cannot help but to feel oneself spiritually elevated, elevated! By the Boticelli and Titian works that hang upon these walls, though of course, this being Mile End, the works are mere fraudulent copies; bequeathed to the Artistic Museum by the Bow Street Detective force in one instance (The Venus) most regretfully!  

But, let us not dwell on that but rather let us note, dear reader, the most prestigious Curate of the Mile End Artistic Museum, as he most surreptitiously guides his elegant guests  betwixt the many rich and lyrical works that grace the walls of this ninth wonder of the British Empire. 

“Little is known of Domenico Venziano the master of Francisco De La Pella, but what little remains of his work has a most lyrical beauty as you may see here. Note, the carefree yet harmonious study of design, the manner in which he depicts the naked Judas Iscariot, an image not of ignominious shame as in the mediaeval mind, but of elegance, of grace” and having so noted, his guests, the infamous Baron Montaperti, Lord Orlando Ottoline and his muse, the stage actress Mrs Madeline Drang, move on. 

“I am told that the best art is always true to the great, glad, aboriginal instincts of our nature. Never representing disease in the guise of health, many sided without being unbalanced, and forcible! Yes forcible! Without ever losing the fine sense of proportion!” 

Lord Orlando Ottoline is quite in agreement, 

“Yes, quite exquisite and most extraordinary!” 

“The painting?” 

“The sum paid for it. I am told Mr Disraeli paid some five hundred British Pounds?” 

“Five hundred sterling and hundred shillings and fifty pence, is the correct sum, I should know having brokered the deal” 

“Why?” 

“The good lord knows, though one must confess it hangs as handsomely within Mile End Art Gallery, as the brigands do without! Haw haw haw!” 

Baron (lately Lord) Montaperti is most taken with his own sense of humour though his companions are at a loss as to why they have been invited to peruse copies of paintings hung in some East End haunt, when they might be perusing the latest painting by Edward Lear at the Royal Academy of Art.   

“Though it may be said that the dead soil of art grows ever richer with the addition of new works, it is to be observed that there can be no improvement on the ancient works we have hung here, and that (copies though they are), they are a worthy and most enlightening addition to the culture of Mile End” 

Wonder at the elegance of the curate of the Artistic Museum, his dignified presence and the cut of his jib, as glossy as that of a new bought gelding. What shapely legs! What an elegant figure! What costly attire and all of it most graciously provided by the Society for the Suppression of Mendacity! 

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Academies, Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Council closed libraries to cut costs, then spent more to guard them

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A council that temporarily closed two libraries just before the exam revision season as a supposed money-saving measure has spent up to three times as much per day on private guards to secure the buildings as it would have cost to keep them open, it has emerged.

Details of the security costs at the libraries, run by Lambeth council in south London, were given to the Guardian following a freedom of information request.

The money spent on guards at one of the libraries was inflated as it was occupied for 10 days by local people protesting at the temporary closure plans. However, the figures show that even at another library not similarly targeted, the money paid for private security was almost twice the usual running costs.

'Due to cutbacks, we've removed the last 20 pages from every mystery novel.'

‘Due to cutbacks, we’ve removed the last 20 pages from every mystery novel.’

The two sites – the Carnegie library in Herne Hill, south-east London, and the Minet library nearby – closed their doors on 31 March before planned works to turn each one into a “community hub”, a combination of a largely unstaffed library and a private gym. The Labour-run council said this was the only option to keep both libraries open amid massive central government cuts to local authority budgets.

When the libraries were closed no work was scheduled to begin for months. Opponents of the plans questioned why the sites could not remain open for longer, allowing students to use them for revision for summer exams. At the time the Lambeth cabinet member whose brief covers libraries, Jane Edbrooke, said this was impossible because the council needed to save money before the start of the new financial year.

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The freedom of information response shows that from 31 March, when the libraries closed, until 15 April, when the request was made, Lambeth spent £35,392.68 on guards to secure both sites, a fraction over £2,212 a day. In contrast, the council’s 2014-15 budget gives a combined running cost for both of £874 a day. This excludes spending on books and computer services, but those are paid for centrally for all of Lambeth’s 10 libraries, and the council has said it has no plans to cut them.

Of the security costs, just under £25,000 was spent at the Carnegie, a figure made bigger by the occupation by several dozen local residents, which lasted from 31 March to 9 April. But even when this was over, the average daily security cost at the library was £1,382, nearly three times the daily running costs.

At the Minet library, which was not occupied, security costs averaged £677 a day over the 16-day period, almost double the £386 daily running costs.

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The Guardian contacted Lambeth council on Friday morning to seek its reaction, and to ask about current security costs at the libraries. The council has yet to provide its promised response.

Laura Swaffield, chair of the Friends of Lambeth Libraries, which opposes the library-gym hybrid model, said the group had long predicted the early closure would not save any money.

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“It has been apparent from the very start that wrecking the library service would cost more than preserving it,” she said. “Now all the flaws in their plan are showing up, the council is panicking. It seems prepared to spend any amount of money trying to make this turkey fly.”

Under the plans, sections of both libraries are being handed to the social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited so they can be turned into private gyms. The council is promising that both libraries will reopen in early 2017, but building work has yet to begin at either.

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(Excerpt from ‘The Guardian Newspaper’)

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Racism, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

What Is The Purpose of Satire?

all-right-jack

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm—”in satire, irony is militant”—but parody,burlesque, exaggeration,juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. This “militant” irony or sarcasm often professes to approve of (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack.

The word satire comes from the Latin word satur and the subsequent phrase lanx satura. Satur meant “full” but the juxtaposition with lanx shifted the meaning to “miscellany or medley”: the expression lanx satura literally means “a full dish of various kinds of fruits.”

The word satura as used by Quintilian, however, was used to denote only Roman verse satire, a strict genre that imposed hexameter form, a narrower genre than what would be later intended as satire. Quintilian famously said that satura, that is a satire in hexameter verses, was a literary genre of wholly Roman origin (satura tota nostra est). He was aware of and commented on Greek satire, but at the time did not label it as such, although today the origin of satire is considered to be Aristophanes’ Old Comedy. The first critic to use satire in the modern broader sense was Apuleius.

Laughter is not an essential component of satire; in fact there are types of satire that are not meant to be “funny” at all. Conversely, not all humour, even on such topics as politics, religion or art is necessarily “satirical”, even when it uses the satirical tools of irony, parody, and burlesque.

Even light-hearted satire has a serious “after-taste”: the organizers of the Ig Nobel Prize describe this as “first make people laugh, and then make them think”.

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Satire and irony in some cases have been regarded as the most effective source to understand a society, the oldest form of social study. They provide the keenest insights into a group’s collective psyche, reveal its deepest values and tastes, and the society’s structures of power. Some authors have regarded satire as superior to non-comic and non-artistic disciplines like history oranthropology. In a prominent example from ancient Greece, philosopher Plato, when asked by a friend for a book to understand Athenian society, referred him to the plays of Aristophanes.

Historically, satire has satisfied the popular need to debunk and ridicule the leading figures in politics, economy, religion and other prominent realms of power. Satire confronts public discourse and the collective imaginary, playing as a public opinion counterweight to power (be it political, economic, religious, symbolic, or otherwise), by challenging leaders and authorities. For instance, it forces administrations to clarify, amend or establish their policies. Satire’s job is to expose problems and contradictions, and it’s not obligated to solve them. Karl Kraus set in the history of satire a prominent example of a satirist role as confronting public discourse.[19]

For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions. The satiric impulse, and its ritualized expressions, carry out the function of resolving social tension. Institutions like the ritual clowns, by giving expression to the antisocial tendencies, represent a safety valve which reestablishes equilibrium and health in the collective imaginary, which are jeopardized by the repressive aspects of society.

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The state of political satire in a given society reflects the tolerance or intolerance that characterizes it,and the state of civil liberties and human rights. Under totalitarian regimes any criticism of a political system, and especially satire, is suppressed. A typical example is the Soviet Union where the dissidents, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov were under strong pressure from the government. While satire of everyday life in the USSR was allowed, the most prominent satirist being Arkady Raikin, political satire existed in the form of anecdotes that made fun of Soviet political leaders, especially Brezhnev, famous for his narrow-mindness and love for awards and decorations.

Juvenalian

Juvenalian satire, named for the writings of the Roman satirist Juvenal (late first century – early second century AD), is more contemptuous and abrasive than the Horatian. Juvenal disagreed with the opinions of the public figures and institutions of the Republic and actively attacked them through his literature. “He utilized the satirical tools of exaggeration and parody to make his targets appear monstrous and incompetent” (Podzemny). Juvenal satire follows this same pattern of abrasively ridiculing societal structures. Juvenal also, unlike Horace, attacked public officials and governmental organizations through his satires, regarding their opinions not just as wrong, but as evil.
Following in this tradition, Juvenalian satire addresses perceived social evil through scorn, outrage, and savage ridicule. This form is often pessimistic, characterized by the use of irony, sarcasm, moral indignation and personal invective, with less emphasis on humor. Strongly polarized political satire can often be classified as Juvenalian.
A Juvenal satirist’s goal is generally to provoke some sort of political or societal change because he sees his opponent or object as evil or harmful. A Juvenal satirist mocks “societal structure, power, and civilization” (Thomas) by exaggerating the words or position of his opponent in order to jeopardize their opponent’s reputation and/or power. Jonathan Swift has been established as an author who “borrowed heavily from Juvenal’s techniques in [his critique] of contemporary English society” (Podzemny).

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Ancient Greece

The Greeks had no word for what later would be called “satire”, although the terms cynicism and parody were used. Modern critics call the Greek playwright Aristophanes one of the best known early satirists: his plays are known for their critical political and societal commentary, particularly for the political satire by which he criticized the powerful Cleon (as in The Knights). He is also notable for the persecution he underwent. Aristophanes’ plays turned upon images of filth and disease. His bawdy style was adopted by Greek dramatist-comedian Menander. His early play Drunkenness contains an attack on the politician Callimedon.

The oldest form of satire still in use is the Menippean satire by Menippus of Gadara. His own writings are lost. Examples from his admirers and imitators mix seriousness and mockery in dialogues and present parodies before a background of diatribe. As in the case of Aristophanes plays, menippean satire turned upon images of filth and disease.

Roman world

The first Roman to discuss satire critically was Quintilian, who invented the term to describe the writings of Lucilius. The two most prominent and influential ancient Roman satirists are Horace and Juvenal, who wrote during the early days of the Roman Empire. Other important satirists in ancient Latin are Lucilius and Persius.Satire in their work is much wider than in the modern sense of the word, including fantastic and highly coloured humorous writing with little or no real mocking intent. When Horace criticized Augustus, he used veiled ironic terms. In contrast, Pliny reports that the 6th century BC poet Hipponax wrote satirae that were so cruel that the offended hanged themselves.

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Medieval Europe

Two major satirists of Europe in the Renaissance were Giovanni Boccaccio and François Rabelais. Other examples of Renaissance satire include Till Eulenspiegel, Reynard the Fox, Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff (1494), Erasmus’ Moriae Encomium (1509), Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), and Carajicomedia (1519).

Early Modern Western Satire

Pieter Bruegel’s 1568 satirical painting The Blind Leading the Blind.

Direct social commentary via satire returned with a vengeance in the 16th century, when farcical texts such as the works of François Rabelais tackled more serious issues (and incurred the wrath of the crown as a result).

The Elizabethan (i.e. 16th-century English) writers thought of satire as related to the notoriously rude, coarse and sharp satyr play. Elizabethan “satire” (typically in pamphlet form) therefore contains more straightforward abuse than subtle irony. The French Huguenot Isaac Casaubonpointed out in 1605 that satire in the Roman fashion was something altogether more civilised. Casaubon discovered and published Quintilian’s writing and presented the original meaning of the term (satira, not satyr), and the sense of wittiness (reflecting the “dishfull of fruits”) became more important again. 17th-century English satire once again aimed at the “amendment of vices” (Dryden).

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Jonathan Swift was one of the greatest of Anglo-Irish satirists, and one of the first to practise modern journalistic satire. For instance, In his A Modest Proposal Swift suggests that Irish peasants be encouraged to sell their own children as food for the rich, as a solution to the “problem” of poverty. His purpose is of course to attack indifference to the plight of the desperately poor. In his book Gulliver’s Travels he writes about the flaws in human society in general and English society in particular. John Dryden wrote an influential essay entitled “A Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire” that helped fix the definition of satire in the literary world. His satirical Mac Flecknoe was written in response to a rivalry with Thomas Shadwell and eventually inspired Alexander Pope to write his satirical The Rape of the Lock. Other satirical works by Pope include the Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot.

Alexander Pope b. May 21, 1688 was a satirist known for his Horatian satirist style and translation of the Illiad. Famous throughout and after the long 18th century, Pope died in 1744. Pope, in his The Rape of the Lock, is delicately chiding society in a sly but polished voice by holding up a mirror to the follies and vanities of the upper class. Pope does not actively attack the self-important pomp of the British aristocracy, but rather presents it in such a way that gives the reader a new perspective from which to easily view the actions in the story as foolish and ridiculous. A mockery of the upper class, more delicate and lyrical than brutal, Pope nonetheless is able to effectively illuminate the moral degradation of society to the public. The Rape of the Lock assimilates the masterful qualities of a heroic epic, such as the Iliad, which Pope was translating at the time of writing The Rape of the Lock. However, Pope applied these qualities satirically to a seemingly petty egotistical elitist quarrel to prove his point wryly.

Daniel Defoe pursued a more journalistic type of satire, being famous for his The True-Born Englishman which mocks xenophobic patriotism, and The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters – advocating religious toleration by means of an ironical exaggeration of the highly intolerant attitudes of his time.

The pictorial satire of William Hogarth is a precursor to the development of political cartoons in 18th-century England.The medium developed under the direction of its greatest exponent, James Gillray from London.With his satirical works calling the king (George III), prime ministers and generals (especially Napoleon) to account, Gillray’s wit and keen sense of the ridiculous made him the pre-eminent cartoonist of the era.

Satire in Victorian England

The Force of Example.

A Victorian satirical sketch depicting a gentleman’s donkey race in 1852

Several satiric papers competed for the public’s attention in the Victorian era (1837–1901) and Edwardian period, such as Punch (1841) and Fun (1861).

Novelists such as Charles Dickens often used passages of satiric writing in their treatment of social issues.

In the same period, in the United States, Mark Twain (1835–1910) was a great American satirist: his novel Huckleberry Finn (1884) is set in the antebellum South, where the moral values Twain wishes to promote are completely turned on their heads. His hero, Huck, is a rather simple but goodhearted lad who is ashamed of the “sinful temptation” that leads him to help a runaway slave. In fact his conscience, warped by the distorted moral world he has grown up in, often bothers him most when he is at his best. Ironically, he is prepared to do good, believing it to be wrong.

Twain’s younger contemporary Ambrose Bierce (1842–1913) gained notoriety as a cynic, pessimist and black humorist with his dark, bitterly ironic stories, many set during the American Civil War, which satirized the limitations of human perception and reason. Bierce’s most famous work of satire is probably The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), in which the definitions mock cant, hypocrisy and received wisdom.

20th Century Satire

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Benzino Napaloni and Adenoid Hynkelin The Great Dictator (1940). Chaplin later declared that he would have not made the film if he had known about the concentration camps.

In the United States 1950s, satire was introduced into American stand-up comedy most prominently by Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. As they challenged the taboos and conventional wisdom of the time, were ostracized by the mass media establishment as sick comedians. In the same period, Paul Krassner’s magazine The Realist began publication, to become immensely popular during the 1960s and early 1970s among people in the counterculture; it had articles and cartoons that were savage, biting satires of politicians such as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the War on Drugs. Prominent satiric stand-up comedian George Carlin acknowledged the influence The Realist had in his 1970s conversion to a satiric comedian.

A more humorous brand of satire enjoyed a renaissance in the UK in the early 1960s with the satire boom, led by such luminaries as Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, and Dudley Moore, whose stage show Beyond the Fringe was a hit not only in Britain, but also in the United States. Other significant influences in 1960s British satire include David Frost, Eleanor Bron and the television program That Was The Week That Was.

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Contemporary Satire

Contemporary popular usage of the term “satire” is often very imprecise. While satire often uses caricature and parody, by no means are all uses of these or other humorous devices, satiric. Refer to the careful definition of satire that heads this article.

Satire is used on many UK television programmes, particularly popular panel shows and quiz shows such as Mock the Week (2005) and Have I Got News for You (1990–ongoing). Similarly it is found on radio quiz shows such as The News Quiz (1977–ongoing) and The Now Show (1998–ongoing). One of the most-watched UK television shows of the 1980s and early 1990s, the puppet Spitting Image was a satire of the royal family, politics, entertainment, sport and British culture of the era. Created by DMA Design in 1997, satire also features prominently in the British video game series Grand Theft Auto.

Stephen Colbert satirically impersonated an opinionated and self-righteous television commentator on his Comedy Central program in the U.S.

The television program South Park (1997–ongoing) relies almost exclusively on satire to address issues in American culture, with episodes addressing anti-Semitism, militant atheism, homophobia,environmentalism, corporate culture, political correctness and anti-Catholicism, among many other issues.

Stephen Colbert’s television program, The Colbert Report (2005–14), is instructive in the methods of contemporary American satire. Colbert’s character is an opinionated and self-righteous commentator who, in his TV interviews, interrupts people, points and wags his finger at them, and “unwittingly” uses a number of logical fallacies. In doing so, he demonstrates the principle of modern American political satire: the ridicule of the actions of politicians and other public figures by taking all their statements and purported beliefs to their furthest (supposedly) logical conclusion, thus revealing their perceived hypocrisy or absurdity. 

Legal Status

For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions.In Germany, and Italy satire is protected by the constitution.

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