Daily Archives: December 11, 2007

Satire and the fake first-person voice

As usual, satire is quicker to identify and exploit the conventions and styles of new genres than any other literary form.  Where Jonathan Swift once emptied out and reanimated genres like the projector’s pamphlet or the periodical-pastoral poem, some other Jon Swift has mastered the art of reviewing books he hasn’t read for Amazon.com.  Another good example is the fake-blog, like the “fake Steve Jobs,” who probably writes better and more amusing prose than the real Steve Jobs.  Now we have an entire constellation of fake blogs, courtesy of NewsGroper, who feature a little troop of insiders dishing on celebrities with blogs like Fake McCain and Fake Al Sharpton (which sounded authentic enough to fool MSNBC).  And one of my favorite examples of this kind of fake first person writing remains Jesus’ General.

One of the keys to this kind of online writing is the strategic mystery surrounding its sources: the satire always works better, I think, when there is genuine uncertainty regarding its origins and therefore its purposes.