Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Second Wind of the Cuckold.

I found a dialogue between a fictitious author and his "critic" that really captures the mindless and humorless exchange one finds oneself in after about three volleys in with an anonymous troll. And demonstrates why I have discontinued their ability to shit my blog and use it for toilet paper to facilitate their post shit clean up.  This is from John Irving's "The World According to Garp".  And Mister Irving?  if you find my unauthorized use of your writing....write your cease and desist on a 8 by 10 head shot and address it to Doug @ The Rumble-strip, and it will be removed in record time.


Then Garp got some hate mail of his own. He was addressed in a lively letter by someone who took offense at Second Wind of the Cuckold. It was not a blind, stuttering, spastic farter - as you might imagine - either. It was just what Garp needed to get himself out of his slump.
Dear Shithead,
[wrote the offended party]
I have read your novel. You seem to find other people's problems very funny. I have seen your pictures. With your fat head of hair I suppose you can laugh at bald persons. And in your cruel book you laugh at people who can't have orgasms, and people who aren't blessed with happy marriages, and people whose wives and husbands are unfaithful to each other. You ought to know that persons who have these problems do not think everything is so funny. Look at the world, shithead - it is a bed of pain, people suffering and nobody believing in God or bringing their children up right. You shithead, you don't have any problems so you can make fun of the poor people who do!
Yours sincerely,
(Mrs.) I. B. Poole
Findlay, Ohio
That letter stung Garp like a slap; rarely had he felt so importantly misunderstood. Why did people insist that if you were "comic" you couldn't also be "serious"? Garp felt most people confused being profound with being sober, being earnest with being deep. Apparently, if you sounded serious, you were. Presumably, other animals could not laugh at themselves, and Garp believed that laughter was related to sympathy, which we were always needing more of. He had been, after all, a humorless child - and never religious - so perhaps he now took comedy more seriously than others.
But for Garp to see his vision interpreted as making fun of people was painful to him; and to realize that his art had made him appear cruel gave Garp a keen sense of failure. Very carefully, as if he were speakingto a potential suicide high up in a foreign and unfamiliar hotel, Garp wrote to his reader in Findlay, Ohio
Dear Mrs. Poole:
The world is a bed of pain, people suffer terribly, few of us believe in God or bring up our children very well; you're right about that. It is also true that people who have problems do not, as a rule, think their problems are "funny".
Horace Walpole once said that the world is comic to those who think and tragic to those who feel. I hope you'll agree with me that Horace Walpole somewhat simplifies the world by saying this. Surely both of us think 
and feel; in regard to what's comic and what's tragic, Mrs. Poole, the world is all mixed up. For this reason I have never understood why "serious" and "funny" are thought to be opposites. It is simply a truthful contradiction to me that people's problems are often funny and that the people are often and nonetheless sad.
I am ashamed, however, that you think I am laughing at people, or making fun of them. I take people very seriously. People are all I take seriously, in fact. Therefore, I have nothing but sympathy for how people behave - and nothing but laughter to console them.
Laughter is my religion, Mrs. Poole. In the manner of most religions, I admit that my laughter is pretty desperate. I want to tell you a little story to illustrate what I mean. The story takes place in Bombay, India, where many people starve to death every day; but not all the people in Bombay are starving.
And among the nonstarving population of Bombay, India, there was a wedding, and a party was thrown in honor of the bride and groom. Some of the wedding guests brought elephants to the party. They weren't really conscious of showing off, they were just using the elephants for transportation. Although it might strike us as a big-shot way to travel around, I don't think these wedding guests saw themselves that way. Most of the were probably not directly responsible for the vast numbers of their fellow Indians who were starving all around them; most of them were just calling "time out" from their own problems, and the problems of the world, to celebrate the wedding of a friend. But if 
you were a member of the starving Indians, and you hobbled past that wedding party and saw all those elephants parked outside, you probably would have felt some disgruntlement.
Furthermore, some of the revelers at the wedding got drunk and began feeding beer to their elephant. They emptied an ice bucket and filled it with beer, and they went tittering out to the parking lot and fed their hot elephant the whole bucket. The elephant liked it. So the revelers gave him several more buckets of beer.
Who knows how beer will affect an elephant? These people meant no harm, they were just having fun - and chances are fairly good that the rest of their lives weren't one hundred percent fun. They probably needed this party. But the people were also being stupid and irresponsible.
If one of those many starving Indians had dragged himself through the parking lot and seen these drunken wedding guests filling up an elephant with beer, I'll bet he would have felt resentful. But I hope you see I am not making 
fun of anyone.
What happens next is that the drunken revelers are asked to 
leave the party because their behavior with their elephant is obnoxious to the other wedding guests. No one can blame the other guests for feeling this way; some of them may have actually thought they were preventing things from getting "out of hand," although people have never been very successful at preventing this.
Huffy and brave with beer, the revelers struggled up on their elephant and veered away from the parking lot - a large exhibition of happiness, surely - bumping into a few other elephants and things because the revelers' elephant plowed from side to side in a lumbering wooze, bleary and bloated with buckets of beer. His trunk lashed back and forth like a badly fastened artificial limb. The great beast was so unsteady that he struck an electric utility pole, shearing it cleanly and bringing down the live wires on his massive head - which killed him, and the wedding guests who were riding him, instantly.
Mrs. Poole, please believe me: I don't think that's "funny." But along comes one of those starving Indians. He sees all the wedding guests mourning the death of their friends, and their friends' elephant; much wailing, rending of fine clothes, spilling of good food and drink. The first thing he does is to take the opportunity to slip into the wedding while the guests are distracted and steal a little good food and drink for his starving family. The second thing he does is start to laugh himself sick about the manner in which the revelers disposed of themselves and their elephant. Alongside death by starvation, this method of enormous dying must seem very funny, or at least quick, to the undernourished Indian. But the wedding guests don't see it that way. It is already a tragedy to them; they are already talking about "this tragic event," and although they could perhaps forgive the presence of a "mangy beggar" at their party - and even have tolerated his stealing their food - they cannot forgive him for 
laughing at their dead friends' elephant.
The wedding guests - outraged at the beggar's behavior (at his 
laughter, not his thievery and not his rags) - drown him in one of the beer buckets that the late revelers used to water their elephant. They construed this to represent "justice". We see that the story is about the class struggle - and, of course, "serious", after all. But I like to consider it a comedy about a natural disaster: they are just people rather foolishly attempting to "take charge" of a situation whose complexity is beyond them - a situation compsed of eternal and trivial parts. After all, with something as large as an elephant, it could have been much worse.
I hope, Mrs. Poole, that I have made what I mean clearer to you. In any case, I thank you for taking the time to write to me, because I appreciate hearing from my audience - even critically.
Yours truly,
"Shithead"
Garp was an expressive man. He made everything baroque, he believed in exaggeration; his fiction was also extremist. Garp never forgot his failure with Mrs. Poole; she worried him, often, and her reply to his pompous letter must have upset him even further.
Dear Mr. Garp,[Mrs. Poole replied]
I never thought you would take the trouble to write me a letter. You must be a sick man. I can see by your letter that you believe in yourself, and I guess that's good. But the things you say are mostly garbage and nonsense to me, and I don't want you to try to explain anything to me again, because it is boring and insulting to my intelligence.
Yours,
Irene Poole
Garp was, like his beliefs, self-contradictory. He was very generous with other people, but he was horribly impatient. He set his own standards for how much of his time and patience everyone deserved. He could be painstakingly sweet, until he decided he'd been sweet enough. Then he turned and came roaring back the other way.
Dear Irene,[Garp wrote to Mrs. Poole]
You should either stop trying to read books, or you should try a lot harder.
Dear Shithead,[wrote Irene Poole]
My husband says that if you write to me again, he'll beat your brains into pulp.
Very sincerely,
Mrs. Fitz Poole
Dear Fitzy and Irene,[Garp shot right back]
Fuck you.

6 comments:

Tundra Woman said...

Gotta love John Irving and his character Garp. What a very fitting reply to the mindless Trolls. I find their lack of humor as empty as their heads, their faux screeches of alleged offense at a Blogger's post a sure indicator of incipient dementia.
TW

vicariousrising said...

Lmfao. This made my day.

q1605 said...

He's fucking great. It's one of the few books I have read that I could stomach the movie made from it.

mulderfan said...

Love this stuff!

Reminded me of the NGC's "anonymous" comments: "Life is a shit sandwich. Eat it or starve."

Of course, he forgot to use quotation marks or attribute the quote to Neil Young's producer, David Briggs. Being a "professional writer" I guess that IS something you might forget.

q1605 said...

MF you have to be a pretty big Neil Young fan to that bit of trivia.

mulderfan said...

NGC is a huge fan and back in the day when he played and sang, he could do a mean Neil Young tribute. He actually has great taste in music and is pretty talented in that area. He was an all round cool hippie type guy before he fried his brain.

I am also a fan of Neil but must admit I Googled the quote as I couldn't believe the NGC came up with it on his own.