Monday, August 23, 2004

Sarcasm as a first language

I’ve been thinking about my default personality lately. Specifically my humor. C.S. Lewis warned us in The Screw Tape Letters that flippancy is a very dangerous attitude to adopt. Because it places an attitude over reason. A necessary component of flippancy is a presupposition. And presuppositions are determined by the winds of popularity. For example: everyone knows that all republicans are heartless, rich people. So when comedians joke about them, they don’t feel a need to establish this a priori.

I looked up several words that might describe my humor. Here is what I found…

Flippancy

: unbecoming levity or pertness especially in respect to grave or sacred matters

Sarcasm

1 : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain

2 : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual

Sardonic

: disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking

Dry (Wit)

14 : marked by matter-of-fact, ironic, or terse manner of expression

So I’m reviewing what it is that I do, and finding none of these words to be apt. The primary departure is in my intent. I really, really, don’t want to hurt anyone. (Even people who hurt me.) God just gave a soft heart. So it is ironic that my humor would end up being hurtful. At least when it is misunderstood. Which it almost always is.

There are two main ways I jest. One is by saying something that I believe the opposite of. Projecting a paradoxical image of myself. Because I am aware of the context, the decontextualization is funny to me. (Like a bunny that can kill any warrior that comes near it. It’s only funny because it’s a bunny.) The fatal flaw here is that people who don’t know me really well don’t know when I’m speaking out of context, out of character. And since I’m not cruel, my irony is a dry delivery of a cruel utterance. Well, not necessarily cruel all the time. Sometimes it’s just contrary to a preference. Like when I say I’m really exited about the Britney Spears tour. Or, I love it when sitcoms have cross-over shows. Because I don’t like Britney Spears and I don’t watch TV. See? Isn’t that funny? No. No, I guess it’s not.

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Well the other “funny” thing I do is go off on tangents regarding things I don’t know or care about. I will make up a story and follow it as far as I can with a deadpan delivery. I try to see how far I can push the ludicrous aspects until it dawns on people that I’ve been “joking” the entire time.

Here is an example. Princess had decided to eat one of the pears that was in a floral arrangement. Just for fun. That’s pretty cool and funny to me. Then I got really serious looking and told her that pears are especially conducive to parasitical worms when they have been skewered on a stick as that one had been. I went on to say that the skewers used were probably made from wood from brazil, and was undoubtedly swarming with parasite eggs. I said it was common for people who eat old fruit to get intestinal parasites. That was the point that she figured out I was making it all up.

Actually, this is what predicated the little spat I had with Princess. (See the entry below.) I guess she was pretty justified. Now that I think about it, this form of humor is kind of mean, because it’s a betrayal of that little bit of trust most people give to others when they listen to them. It’s like saying, “I fooled you! Sucker!”

So now I have established that my primary means of amusing myself cause discomfort for others. Wow. That sucks. I really want to make people happy, not miserable. Maybe this realization will help me change. I’ll keep me updated…

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