I believe in cynicism, satire and mockery, the subordinate trinity. I was born in 1967, too late to remember oratory but just in time to recall the double v-sign, held tightly aloft by so many Nixon imitators. My memory of Gerald Ford is of Chevy Chase and of President Carter, chiefly his brother.
As a child I read the Bible, mythology and Poe, filled with earnestness, both sinister and hopeful. Environmental jeering mixed with literary cheering and tearing. The devout were the ones I saw receive their comeuppance in contemporary culture while the faithless suffered in old writing. As a boy and a young man, filled with faith, I couldn’t tell whether the times had broken with history or just with literature. Like many before me, I assumed that what I read must be more authentic than what I saw. Doubt was the price of belief in the world I was born to. Postmodernity was hereditary.
In my teen years, though, I began to read Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut and Ambrose Bierce. I saw previous generations had resolved the conflicts between robust realities and brittle beliefs through satire, invective and wry denouncements of the government and the governed, commerce, the bought and the sold. My era was not new, just tired. Embracing my cynicism placed me in the main stream of history, citizenship and religion if close to the rocks.
Here I found the solution. Piety negates faith, the maintenance of which requires dismissing the dismal. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Hebrews, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So it must be that the substance and evidence of faith, in turn, are irony.
This, I believe and so offer a cynic’s creed in support of the Apostles’:
I believe in Cynicism, the rejection of persuasion, creator of consolation and jaundice.
I believe in Satire, Cynicism’s only begotten son, lord of doubt which was conceived by virtuous taint, suffered under righteousness, was resented, denounced and censored.
Satire is crucified by a pious society then three days later plagiarized. History is revised but satire is eternal. When tomorrow remembers today, it will be with satire at the right hand of cynicism in judgement of the living and the dead.
I believe in mockery, the ridicule of sobriety, the universal frivolity of the human fraternity toward the earnest famous few, the shared memory of folly and indifference everlasting.
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