Hi, my name is Deric Brazill and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Three Good Sarcastic Essays from Somewhat Different Eras.

Sarcasm is a tricky little human device, in speech and human-to-human conversational relations it is really annoying for the most part, but in writing (if done with subtlety) it can produce interesting results.

Example 1: A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (circa 1729)

Swift is trying to address the problem of poverty in Ireland and how it should be solved. He opens by explaining how difficult life is for many children who were born into poverty, and comes to the conclusion that the best thing for everyone involved is for the rich to eat these poor children...

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled ...”

"I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children."

This obviously created quite a stir when released, he's recommending that the best way for rich landlords to get rid of 120,000 children is to eat them. The reaction of people who read it was to hate on him and say he's a maniac but the important thing is that they read it to begin with. He provides very important data in the piece on poverty and on how landlords and tax collectors are "feeding" off of the impoverished population. The baby-eating part is just to sensationalize it and gain readership to what is essentially an eye-opener on how the very rich take advantage of the poor. He gained a lot of negative attention surely, yet it remains relevant all the way to today and has it's place in history.



Not 100% true but food for thought...
Example 2: Kill the Poor by Eric Boucher (circa 1980)


Efficiency and progress is ours once more, 
Now that we have the Neutron bomb 
It's nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at home

The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight

Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rate's gone
Feel free again
O' life's a dream with you, Miss Lily White
Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals it's okay
So let's get dressed and dance away the night

While they...Kill kill kill kill Kill the poor...Tonight!


The template for this piece was obviously Swift's A Modest Proposal yet it is interesting that it was met with the same reaction almost three hundred years later. The piece is 100% identical but just revamped for a new era it seems. No one said, "oh wow this is a sarcastic eye opener on the current political system much very similar to an essay written in 1729," in fact the reaction was even worse than 1729, Boucher at one point was even put on trial by his government for this and other material for the crime of "distributing obscenity" and accused of poisoning the minds of the youth. It's strange that 300 years later this re-issue of Swift's sarcastic critique was met with more hostility than it was in 1729.

Media: Boucher on British TV.....Boucher on Oprah w/ Tipper Gore (this is really good).


This Nguyen character is far less known than the previous two but I think his writing deserves to be remembered as well. His essays took the internet by storm a few years ago (or by gale maybe...not storm), and they are something (see the rest here).

Now, before I make my point let's reduce some obvious error bars and state some obvious counter points. First, these can very possibly be fake, and someone just put red pen on it to look like it was submitted in a classroom. Also, this can be just a form of "self sabotage" and these essays are not important at all. Self sabotage is basically when you purposely don't try so you can not feel the effects of failure ever (i.e. "I know I didn't get X but it's just because I wasn't really trying..."). These essays may be subject to both and that could discredit my following point, but let's hypothetically say that they were neither fake nor self-sabotaged in order to argue my following points in safety.

The environment of the school system Nguyen was in was a very odd one for two reasons. Since the mid 1990's students all have access to the internet, and teachers in the US are given bell curve incentives.

What do kids do with the net? They "research" and then they switch some words around so it doesn't look too "researched" to their teacher.

What are bell curve incentives? Everyone goes on the curve and their grades are dished out by what piece of the curve you hit. The teachers themselves are evaluated for job performance how good their curves are, meaning they get raises and benefits for good curves. That is a conflict of interest as teachers pass everyone and edit marks to even out or fancy-up their respective bell curve to achieve higher pay and climb the pay scale.

So let's put two and two together why don't we? Thirty students go on Wiki or some other site and "research" their essay and then thirty students turn in basically the same essay to the teacher (some with better grammar than others being the biggest difference)...the teacher then assigns them to the bell curve...the ones with the worst grammar go into 60-65, then with bad grammar they go into 70-80, and the ones with excellent grammar get the 85-95 slot. Everyone passes and the teacher looks good for his/her evaluation...and everyone is happy.

Then a Peter Nguyen comes along and throws everything out of whack, where does this fucking shit fit on the bell curve? Nowhere! Getting his essay on that fucking curve is like throwing a brick into a washing machine The teacher doesn't want to fail him because it'll fuck up the curve and he/she can't pass him because he'll have proof that anyone can pass. This crazy guy is daring the teacher to fail him. Why? 

The interesting thing about Nguyen is you can tell from his writing that he is creative, original, and intelligent...so why is he daring his teachers to fail him? Is it in itself a sarcastic critique on the bell curve system in American schools? Could be...


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