Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April First Blog Entry

Today is officially the single most moronic "holiday" on the calender. Yes, even dumber than National Date Nut Bread and Pardon Day (9/8). April Fool's Day grates on the Sarcastic Weasel's nerves like no other idiot concept... except perhaps multi-level marketing.

One might think that, given my strong discordian tendencies, my mild sadistic streak, and the fact that I am known in the blogosphere as the "Really Sarcastic Weasel" that I would embrace the practical jokes and pranking that accompany this inane day. But practical jokes have never really amused me; instead, they've always just pissed me off. The dishonesty that lies at the heart of any such practical joke is, I think, what really grates my nerves. To me, a thing is only funny if it is based on truth. In fact, a large part of the truly copious amount of sarcasm that the Sarcastic Weasel employs is just a way to state socially awkward truths (by telling intrinsically obvious falsehoods) in a way that is less socially unacceptable. I suspect that this is the root of much sarcasm. Obviously, within any community, total honesty between its members would lead very quickly to its demise thus necessitating the small fibs, lies of omission, and acts keeping your big mouth shut that prevent us from being considered anti-social, and/or being ostracized/pummeled on a daily basis. But the willful subversion of the truth (or what we believe to be the truth) for no benefit other than mischief undermines the very notion of truth, our society, and ourselves.

So, before you tell your co-workers that you accidentally erased their hard drive, or your "friend" that that you're moving to Nepal, or your spouse that you won the lottery, remember that, as a race, we human beings have many impediments to our ability to understand the universe. We have prejudices, irrational agendas, limited time, limited intellect, and limited memory. There may exist whole classes of things that we are not equipped to observe, directly or indirectly that we can never come to grips with. That doesn't mean that we have a right to abdicate our duty to the search for truth. There exist so many reasons for falsehood that, while ultimately poor reasons, do offer short-term practical gain, but so-called "practical" joke don't even offer that. Do not increase the obstacles that we face today. Use today to tear them down. Use today to be truthful... that will get a bigger response anyway.

8 comments:

s.w. said...

On the other hand, World Sauntering Day (6/19) looks like a great time.

ish said...

Hmm...

1: What's wrong with mischief? Life is difficult enough, what with our imperfect memories, blah blah and etc, without everyone being dour old fucks complaining about kids on their lawn. Mischief is fun, and most importantly reminds us not to take things so damn seriously. And in a world of imperfections like you describe, taking things too seriously is a far bigger sin than a few (typically blatantly false) untruths.

2: A lie told on a day reserved for lying is like a compliment given during a lifetime achievement award. If you take it too seriously, you've missed the point. When the whole idea of the day is to play with the idea of truth and trust, then telling a lie in the spirit of the day is nothing like regular lying. Should someone who bluffs while playing poker be castigated as an untrustworthy person? Hardly, because it is understood as a part of the game. Similarly with games like Illuminati, or questions like "How do I look in these jeans?" duplicity is an understood part of the rules. The rules for daily life are different, involving a careful balance between not telling deliberate lies, but not telling too many deliberate truths. The rules for April Fools are to tell an inventive lie that is just believable enough to be surprising, but still blatant enough to make the recipient realize that they should have guessed from the start. This act of playing with the boundaries of truth and fiction should actually benefit the pursuit of truth, in the same way that doing poorly on a job interview will benefit the seeker who learns from mistakes.

3: Lenny has said that he hates April Fool's Day as well, but only because he tends to be gullible toward such things and continually get caught. This seems like a fair reason to dislike the day.

4: Frequently, AFD performs exactly the same function you describe for sarcasm, telling lies to reveal greater truths.
http://www.google.com/virgle/index.html
http://mail.google.com/mail/help/paper/index.html
http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=af07

5: Certainly many (if not most) AFD jokes are stupid and don't accomplish any of these things. But then many (if not most) people are stupid. This in itself is not a criticism of the day, in the same way it is not a fair criticism of guitar playing to say that because so many people do it poorly no one should do it at all.


6: World Sauntering Day does look fun. Though in a world where so many people are taken by apathy, can we really afford such extravagance?

s.w. said...

S.W.'s polemic about the evils of AFD = 410 words.

Ish's dismembering of polemic = 425 words.

*satisfied smile*

Like any polemic, my post was half facetious, as close as I can come to an April Fool's Day prank. But, also half in earnest. Ish makes some excellent points however, particularly numbers 2 and 3:

2. Learning to be skeptical is a vital part of living with people, because as great as people are, they suck a lot too.

3. The S.W. is the victim of having an older sibling (5.5 years older) who, for many of S.W.'s formative years was significantly more sophisticated than he (probably still is) making AFD an incredibly one-sided affair.

Regarding point 5: S.W. does not know exactly what Ish's views on 2nd Ammendment issues are, but Ish's views and S.W.'s views on political issues are pretty reliably opposite. Should it come up in the future, the S.W. intends to remember this exact strain of logic and to develop a counter to the obvious rejoinder when such an argument is applied to instruments of death rather than pranks and bad guitar music.

Regarding point 6: I can't hear you, I'm sauntering too loudly.


Honestly, I was going to not get my undies in such a bundle about AFD, but then, on my drive home, I was subjected to this piece of trash:

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/04/01/april_1st/

There's a big hint early on that the piece is a trap, but it's, generally, very convincing. I mean, when a former Clinton cabinet member talks at length about Viagra, one can only assume it's on the level. Stupid NPR.

ish said...

It likely should have occurred to you by now that it is less likely that my political views are exactly opposite of yours, and more likely that I enjoy the hell out of arguing(especially with you) and since I'm usually arguing with liberals, I get a special joy out of finally get a chance to argue with someone more conservative (I do come from the labor-loving, latte-sipping Southwest of Michigan after all). Plus, you're fun to pick on.

As I've stated before, my actual views are pretty reliably moderate, though usually in a radical way that differs considerably from the supposed middle position of the dominant parties. In that particular case this makes me pro-waiting periods (but I could be convinced to relax this somewhat for hunting rifles and shotguns), pro-trigger locks and mandatory safety classes for registration, but also pro universal CCW permits for non-felons (but the safety training is especially important here), and indifferent on assault weapons.

I suspect we're closer on most issues than you'd think, but then I don't really know because you like being a devil's advocate as much as I do.

s.w. said...

Damn, that doesn't leave a lot to argue about.

Just trigger locks, I guess.
They defeat the (beneficial... to society anyway) Darwinism inherent in households where firearms are combined with parents who don't think enough to educate their children about important crap (like which end of the gun points at you and which end points at the other guy/tasty looking animal).

The S.W. does not currently own a gun, but grew up with them (unlocked), knowing where they were kept, where the ammo was, and just how completely unacceptable his unpermitted touching of them was. Also, the S.W. has always hated loud noises.

Jennifer said...

Ok. I know this post was 3 months ago, but I just saw the comments now, and I'm not so sure I understand part 3 of the third comment. I happen to know your older sibling and believe her to be quite upstanding and generous and kind. Do you have evidence to repute this?

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

Hey, I implied that y... that is, my older sibling is more sophisticated than I am (code for smarter than me). Do you want smart, or nice, because in the given context, it's beyond my feeble skills to imply both to imply both.

Jennifer said...

Yeah, yeah. I know all that. What I was hoping for were examples.