My Blog Week: March 21 to March 27
A Word on the Week
The Shallow Season
We are approaching the first of April, which where I live is forecast to be a weirdly cold day. Maybe nature’s just kidding.
So let’s take a look at pranks. April 1 ought to be Anti-Bullying Day, which exists, but is celebrated on February 23. How is a practical joke more like crime, and less like comedy?
When we’re simply appreciators of humor, and we want a friend to see a great cartoon, we may send a link to the site, along with a greeting: Hey, this is hilarious!
Or we may meet a friend, and say: Did you catch SNL? That one sketch…
Sharing something funny, in normal terms, means the recipient is a participant. A wisecrack isn’t much pain to spring on someone, and if unfunny, will earn an eyeroll, or an: Oh, please. But the entire mechanism can’t be spoiled by the recipient knowing the joke is coming. The recipient is supposed to laugh, too, not exist only to be laughed at.
What does a wisecrack resemble? Or into what category does it fall? Humor is self-explanatory. A line, sometimes with visuals, twists in a way to produce irony, and irony makes us laugh. A picture of Ted Cruz during this week’s southern border excursion might engender the familiar formula: Here is a metaphor for uselessness; standing next to it, a piece of the unfinished border wall.
Or the identifying features of a thing are lampooned, as in sketch comedy, and our shared cultural experience makes us laugh, even at home by ourselves.
What does a practical joke resemble? The recipient, otherwise victim, has to be unsuspecting. The aim is to induce discomfort, dismay…and no ruling out despair, depending on the joke’s cruelty. If a practical joker said to his target: I’m going to fake up an email from your college saying your diploma is being withdrawn, because it’ll be funny, the target would say…
Fill in the blanks.
The perpetrator, to make the joke “funny” watches in secret, and to put blame where blame richly belongs, those persons he recruits to watch with him find the proposal pleasing, and agree not to tell…that is, not to make themselves helpful to someone who might get hurt.
That is, having both choices and the implications of both choices to weigh, this is how they define to themselves their own characters.
One thing pranks resemble is voyeurism. The Onion (satirical site)—
—has the right idea, but what happens in a workplace setting, for example, where to prevent someone (a woman, a member of a protected class, or both) from rising to a leadership role, or to retaliate for whistleblowing, or for sheer prurience, a reputational assault is taking place, the victim unaware of illegal surveillance, and the use being made of private information?
The voyeur and the voyeur’s audience of Eager Ears are not joking. But they are enjoying in secret the setting up of another person.
Then there’s this week’s shrimp tails episode. Opening the bottom of a bag to insert weird things, with (or without? see latest) the intention of a stranger finding them, resembles what? Here is someone whose satisfaction comes from his imagination, of how his actions affect random others. Product tamperers are possessors of a mental state, featuring a disassociation from societal values, and a lack of human empathy, that is not, by mental health professionals, considered merry fun. The Tylenol killer was a tamperer.
I read one of those Reader’s Digest “50 Things You Don’t Know…” articles, where a person who worked for a shipping company warned people not to mark packages “fragile”. Presumably someone’s delicate object would be rough-handled, because she’d asked that it be handled with care…
What weird complications in a mind! The poor sender is “accusing” the employee of not being careful, by writing, in effect: Be careful…? And the employee, taken with this fit of overpersonalized pique, responds by damaging a stranger’s property? Maybe her granddaughter is dying, and she can’t leave the house because of COVID, and she’s sending the Lalique vase the granddaughter always admired, to show her love at one of her last chemo sessions. The odds may be against such scenarios, but decent-minded people think about them, anyway. Decent-minded people don’t think harming people’s stuff is gratifying, either.
But a practical joker does.
And so, let’s not “fool” people, if we can’t look them in the eye and explain why we ever would.
On Monday, a new Totem-Maker, with unhappy results for Bani’s people when the green crystals exert their appeal. Tuesday, a reissue, the poem “Resolved”. On Wednesday, The Sword Decides!, with a bitter parting between Giovanna and Andreas, then a new chapter, beginning with the banter of court figures. Thursday, part thirty-six of Shine! by Mathilde Alanic, Annie meeting the local landholder and uncomfortably, her mentor. Friday, Hammersmith, with Aimee’s nephew accounting for an overstressed decision. Saturday, a reissue from Rattus, “The Loath of Oilty”.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: March 21 to March 27