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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Philosopher-Comedians

JSU

What is it about modern American culture, that we must needs be pontificated on politics, by everyone UNRELATED to politics?





I know you are going to tell me that it's about (a) celebrity culture and (b) the unease Anglo-Saxon culture has traditionally felt with professionalism, which for us sometimes translates as "showing off", a deadly cultural sin.

But there is something else.

Something perhaps related to the American national character based on its history of independence and egalitarianism, (c) whereby anyone with an opinion, and a chance to expound on it, has as much right to say it out loud, as those who are nominally experts on the topic.

...like millions of bloggers like myself, not to put too fine a point on it. But then, not for nothing is blogging yet another American invention.

But in the year 2007, we are at a cultural crossroads in the US of A.

We feel so uncomfortable with politics, that we at once seek levity from comics, in the hopes that they will lighten our mental loads that way; AND this is exploited by them because they are oppositional to the current administration, providing them with a handy excuse so to vent.

America is unique in having at the moment, two of the most acute, and watched commentators of politics in the form of two comedians -- Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, both from cable channel, Comedy Central.

Their faithful viewers, which number in the millions, are not only comfortable with saying that all the news and opinion-making they get about politics, they get from these two gentlemen exclusively, but in fact, they say it proudly.

Less than 6 months ago, another comedian, this time from across the well-travelled pond, Sacha Baron-Cohen's incarnation as Borat was a jackhammer of insight, which he sought to somehow use as political commentary on American society.

That a similar state-of-affairs would be UNTHINKABLE in such diverse countries as France, Germany and Italy (that is, the most "respected" voices, by reason of quantity of eyeballs and the approval of laughter, would be stand-up comics), goes without saying.

A Frenchman wouldn't respect a comic to inform him about political opinions, or anyone else for that matter, who hadn't attended at least one Grand Lycée or had been in the ENA.

Perhaps the discrepancy in attitude between our nations lies in one of my favourite quotes, which describes how I look at the world, perfectly.

"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." -- Horace Walpole

This is not to suggest that no other nation but Americans are propelled to use laughter to think about things, but I put it you that perhaps in wanting to approach politics as comedy, we feel our neurons being stimulated, whilst not really needing to DO anything about it, let alone to be forced into guilt for our lack of feelings.

Feelings being the number one cause for action in the modern world, by those of left-liberal politics, of course.

And America simply hasn't taken that Socialist-inspired route as easily or as well, as other nations. For one, they haven't had to, not being the product of a brutal post-feudal society, as is most of the world.

Whatever is the answer about this virtual plethora of comedians who suddenly use their fame as a bully pulpit to harangue us with their political comments, here is yet another gentleman who is doing much of the same.

(Note, it would be wise to remember that comedian also meant "performance artist" not too long ago, which throws a wide net on the kinds of people today, who spout forth with their political views)

That I agree with almost everything he says, is besides the point. This sometime writer for Bill Maher, is still a political commentator using comedy as his point of departure.

Somehow thought, Shut Up & Write, that doesn't have the same slogan chic, so I'll refrain from using it, even with hovering smiley.

Without further ado, Evan Sayet, listed as "Conservative Humourist/Pundit" gives a talk about the Conservative/Liberal divide over at the venerable Heritage Foundation.


HOW MODERN LIBERALS THINK





Thoughts:

I watched it earlier today at one fell swoop, although I warn you all, it's 47 minutes long. But as all the commenters in the link mentioned, he's got this engrossingly disarming quality, that keeps you watching.

Here I have to say a few things.

First, he echoes a lot of what I have been saying here on Sundries, about the Ideological Impasse in the world, between Conservatives versus Liberals (in the leftwing sense of the word, not the European, 'classical liberal = free market economy' sense).

Anyone who wonders what I feel can please read or refer again to my colossal:

Why People Are Conservative

But this similarity of thought is not unusual, obviously.

It only becomes so, this sharing of EXACT opinions, when MSM want to insinuate a 'group think' mentality about political conservatives, so as to suggest a less rigourous intellectual formation behind Conservative ideals.

Do I agree with everything he has to say? No. He puts things in such a way that they are readily understandable by every day folks, and that is his target audience -- average, middle-class Americans who may be a little bewildered by these "Cultures Wars", and want an easy way to comprehend it all.

Look, he's not a philosopher, and no more am I. Our approaches are different, is all.

But he also has something which I don't have, and possibly never will.

He comes to the world today as a reformed ex-leftwing liberal, one of the many "mugged by reality" liberals out there, like David Horowitz, or on Blogosphere, for example, Neo-NeoCon.

And therefore, he knows something about the mindset of fence-sitters who possibly are a little nonplussed about where the modern US leftwing political movement is headed.

(I was born Conservative. I knew it at a VERY early age, remember? For all that, I'm not terribly political. I just have a certain way I view the world, which society tells me is called "conservative". When I refer to myself at all, I think of myself as an "anti-Statist, free-market traditionalist".

But fine, so be it then, just don't put me into a little box and throw away the key. I don't do that to anyone who shows moderation, and logic in their approach -- so I plead, don't do that to others)

A lot of what he says is aimed towards making his fellow ex-liberals feel a little better about how they think about the world.

About our defence of country.

About our traditions and values.

About our viewpoints of people.

About our judgements of ideals, places, and movements.

Basically, about ourselves, we Americans in the year 2007 A.D.

Sure, he doesn't say anything which maybe more acute observers of the scene haven't noticed already, but for all that, he's still saying what needs to be said, at long last, even if yet again.

By a philosopher-comedian.

Let me know what you thought of it. I'm curious.

ADDENDUM: One further point about Mr. Sayet. Once a liberal, always a liberal, in terms of not being terribly comfortable with structure and hierarchy.

He constantly breaks the fourth wall in his speech, by speaking to his audience as co-equal.

Though his talk is remarkably yuck-free, for a comedian asked to share his views on modern leftwing liberals, he is still at pains to relate to the audience, by bringing them into the conversation DURING his speech.

This reminded me of having read in George Stephanopoulos' autobiography that, in the early days of the Clinton Administration, everyone in the Oval Office behaved as if they were anywhere BUT in the Oval Office, and very rarely addressed the new President, as "Mr. President".

He said it was difficult for those in the West Wing to invest President Clinton with the morose dignity often needed in formalised situations, because it didn't come naturally to them. As you can see, that behaviour in the Oval Office ultimately led to lack of judgement, which easily could've been avoided by having a more respectful, more conservative attitude.

Because one characteristic of liberals, not political liberals, but people who are more liberal in their APPROACH, is their discomfort with top-down authority.

Something that I not only relish, but in fact, prefer. I LOVE hierarchies. And have since I was 3.

Labels: ,

10 Comments:

  • Alas, with a wee dialup it would take me forever to watch...but it sounds interesting!

    As for the rest...I'll need to mull. There's something about that connection between comedy and politics that I'm trying to put my finger on, and I may post again on this.

    By Blogger Ron, at Tue Mar 27, 01:54:00 am GMT-4  

  • Thanks for the hat tip.

    Comedic commentary on politics goes back, of course, to Aristophanes and the (Attic) Old Comedy, whose blend of song, current controversy, and sexual/gross-out humor may bring to mind the thing I mention in seemingly every comment here.

    "I LOVE hierarchies. And have since I was 3."

    Catholic.

    By Blogger JSU, at Tue Mar 27, 03:15:00 am GMT-4  

  • Catholic.

    I hope you where expecting the Spanish Inquisition...

    By Blogger I R A Darth, at Tue Mar 27, 08:51:00 am GMT-4  

  • Alas, with a wee dialup it would take me forever to watch...but it sounds interesting!

    Ron! Get thyself to a nunnery, I mean...to a public library. ;)

    I used to have dial-up too, and I recall I used to head to the PL to use their higher-speed connexion, when I couldn't get to UM.

    They don't charge for headphones either. ;)

    As for the rest...I'll need to mull. There's something about that connection between comedy and politics that I'm trying to put my finger on, and I may post again on this.

    Very nice! It's precisely the kind of insight I am looking for.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Mar 28, 12:22:00 am GMT-4  

  • Thanks for the hat tip.

    Thanks for the link, baby! :)

    Comedic commentary on politics goes back, of course, to Aristophanes and the (Attic) Old Comedy, whose blend of song, current controversy, and sexual/gross-out humor

    But stand-up comedy is different. It's as if the ancient Greeks had wanted their philosophy from the Greek chorus in a play, than the writer of the play.

    IOW, the mouthpiece rather than the brains.

    may bring to mind the thing I mention in seemingly every comment here.

    HEHE. Tomorrow? I will try to watch!

    Catholic.

    Almost right.

    It has to do with my childhood, and it is very primordial, but it's not just my religion.

    It's my dad. The Captain in the Guards.

    When you have a father who tells you, "I am the Head of this Family" as a response to just about every question, when you were growing up, you get used to the idea there's an established authority out there -- and that's all right by you.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Mar 28, 12:27:00 am GMT-4  

  • I hope you where expecting the Spanish Inquisition...

    The Inquisition! What a show! The Inquisition! Here we go!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Mar 28, 12:27:00 am GMT-4  

  • In a game one time I arranged a siege, with my friends playing the part of the beseigers, when a mule train of supplies from Madrid snuck into the castle right under their noses, just so I could say....

    "Nobody inspects the Spanish requisition!"

    By Blogger Ron, at Wed Mar 28, 12:43:00 am GMT-4  

  • "Nobody inspects the Spanish requisition!"

    What jolly parties you must have. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Mar 28, 02:57:00 am GMT-4  

  • It's my dad. The Captain in the Guards.

    Are we correct in assuming, then, that father is very tall, very tall indeed?

    While I have your attention, may we have a health update?

    By Blogger Internet Ronin, at Fri Mar 30, 12:39:00 am GMT-4  

  • Are we correct in assuming, then, that father is very tall, very tall indeed?

    Although I believe one doesn't necessarily have to be VERY tall to enter the Guards (5'8" IIRC), my dad is VERY tall yes.

    Which is why I came out a munchkin...well, anyway, the smallest girl in either side of my family.

    While I have your attention, may we have a health update?

    Well, I am still with a hacking cough, but I am much much better!

    Taking Robitussin DM helps.

    Thanks Internet Ronin for thinking about me, mwah! :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Mar 30, 01:50:00 am GMT-4  

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