Sermon for St. Henry Louis Mencken’s day

October 7, 2010 § 1 Comment


Such is the punishment that falls upon a civilized man cast among fundamentalists. As I have said, the worst of it is that even the native intelligentsia help to pull the rope. In consequence all the brighter young men of the State – and it produces plenty of them – tend to leave it. If they remain, they must be prepared to succumb to the prevailing blather or resign themselves to being more or less infamous. With the anti-evolution law enforced, the State university will rapidly go to pot; no intelligent youth will waste his time upon its courses if he can help it. And so, with the young men lost, the struggle against darkness will become almost hopeless.

Gentlethings! Stay your dead cats and rotten cabbages; for I bring fine news to you this day.

I know you have all been worried about the Death of Journalism. That slow, painful nibbling-to-death of the grand Amerigean tradition of Truth – like crabs nibbling at a still-living stranded whale – which we have all been forced to witness over the past decade. Well, you need not suffer that horrible stench and unearthly moaning no more. Like the Infamous Exploding Whale, Journalism has finally been dealt with.

Our thanks go out to the Cult of the Amateur, and in particular its detractors, without which it could never have achieved the number and strength of supporters needed. The cluster of slimy little spider-like eggs which were nestled and nurtured in that ancient cradle of sublime madness known as the Use-net, the official arsecrack of the Interwebs, have long since hatched and eaten their nest-mother. Now a generation of Besswerwissers and Instant Experts has grown fat and settled, each and every one lording it on his own throne fashioned from the crushed skulls of editors – holding court over their underlings in Wikipedia accounts, web fora and blogs. Oh, yes, the Blogs. Like the Human Centipede, they crawl trough the memetic ecology, devouring the same load of shit over and over again.

See, to actually say new things, you need Journalism. Note, however, that the core of Journalism is not about any noble ideals or dedication to Truth. The fire at the altars to that vicious, demanding goddess – hidden for centuries in the broom closets and forgotten cellars of the newspaper houses, adorned with the intestines of interns and graphic designers – have long since died, the Goddess now a lonely, forgotten voice whispering in the infinite dark. True Journalism was better than that. True Journalism would happily stand at the rooftops while unleashing its sphincters on innocent passersby and yelling BIGFOOT CORNHOLES PRESIDENT! DREYFUSS THE JEW GUILTY! FIRE AT THE CROWDED THEATER! until it ran out of spittle and excreta. But it was from the delusion-inducing fumes of those altars that It drew its terrible, demented Inspiration.

However, to do Journalism, you need to get paid. Or rather, you need time. And the goddess of the Market long ago decided that time equals money. A couple of hours after work at the munitions factory is not enough. You need to go places and terrorize people until they tell you things. You need to dig for forgotten bits of papers, dodging rogue archivists and making desk-keeping-things submit to you by learning their secret mating dance. You need to do stupid shit like travelling to war zones and talk to people who needs a reason *not* to saw your head off slowly in front of a camera. In short, it takes Slack. When Journalism can no longer get Slack, Journalism dies, and the Journalists are chained up at press conferences, embedded in the concrete of the invading army’s propaganda, or reduced to one lone, tiny voice among many in the spawning pits of the intertubes.

And so True Journalism is dead; not killed by the Booboisie, but shattered and replaced by it.

Can it be rekindled, the fires at those heathen, terrible altars? Can the red-faced, yelling madman once again take up his place at the Well of Truth, where he soils it anew with unmentionable fluids from his magnificent mutant glands, teaching us all about the Living Elvis and the necessity of keeping YOUR MAN HAPPY IN BED? Maybe. It will take immense amounts of Slack to achieve, but it might just be possible.



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