Yesterday on social media I had posted:
Sometimes I have a great biting comment as a pun that works on several levels.
I then realize that there is no way my conscience would let me actually post it for its lack of charity. But such a great biting pun.
I will remind Jesus of those occasions when I die. He will probably remind me of the ones I let fly.
Today I was thinking about this quote from Chesterton:
“It may seem a singular observation to say that we are not generous enough to write great satire. This, however, is approximately a very accurate way of describing the case. To write great satire, to attack a man so that he feels the attack and half acknowledges its justice, it is necessary to have a certain intellectual magnanimity which realizes the merits of the opponent as well as his defects. This is, indeed, only another way of putting the simple truth that in order to attack an army we must know not only its weak points, but also its strong points. England in the present season and spirit fails in satire for the same simple reason that it fails in war: it despises the enemy.” – “Pope and the art of satire”Twelve Types 1903
In reaction to this, I think, that if you use humor to attack, it should be too wound so as to heal. Oddly I think of St. John of the Cross’s metaphor of the “sweet cautery” that he uses in Stanza 2 of the “Living Flame of Love” for the Holy Spirit. That there is pain involved in the cautery, but it is used to heal.
Chesterton way of explaining the use of satire is not an exclusive way at looking at the subject. Still, all satire should be written to persuade if it is going to be effective. Some writers have the skills to do this in a more brutal way such as Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”.
Coincidentally, today I listened to two podcasts that both dealt with the subject of humor – linked in the comment section.