Friday, February 13, 2015

Honest to God!

13th February 2015

Friday, 13th! Get out your ghost and ghoulie costumes! The veil is drawn thin once again. Hold up your crucifixes - the pagan runs rampant for another of those Halloween days!
A week or so ago, I wrote my blog in response to the Charlie Hebdo incident, trying to make the case for satire in any age and culture. So I am more than dismayed to see Jon Stewart announce this week his retirement from the The Daily Show. He is one of the few effective jesters we have in this country, and as I was trying to point out, every king needs his fool to keep fresh air moving about his head.
When I first came to this country, I had never encountered anything like "The National Enquirer," and I still don't get it. I don't get Fox News either. I don't understand how a substantial portion of the nation can bury their heads in the sand and not care that they are only hearing what they want to hear.   Bill Moyers, another "whistle-blower" has written screeds on lying in America and how it goes unchecked, much like the inbred lying that goes on in alcoholic families to keep the truth from the door.
So, the jesters are crucial in this country more than in most others in the "free" world, and this is why I hope the Daily Show carries on in some fashion. If it doesn't we are all in danger of asphyxiation.

How does all this relate to literature? What is the truth of stories? It's hard to define, but something that you recognise in your gut when you see it. Jane Austen painted a pretty picture of early nineteenth century English society, but it wasn't really the truth, was it? Oscar Wilde got closer by mocking the whole upper crust pantomime. Not long after Austen, Emily Bronte was painting dark moors and subterranean landscapes of the heart which her prim critics described as "demonic." JK Rowling writes tomes about the suppressed pagan and magical in our history, and the folks down south burn her books. 

But one thing worse than burning books, is not writing them in the first place. We need stories to breathe by. We need the jesters and we need the bards, to save us from ourselves. We need the druids, too, but I don't know in this day and age what they would look like. I'm not sure we would recognise religious truth-sayers anymore if we fell over them.

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