Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Sermon for Cacophonytide
(Reprinted from the Schisminter Perish Magazine)

My Little Perishers:

Cacophony is the seedtime of the Polar Year. Not, of course, the dilatory seedtime of conquered and discredited Nature! But as from the refrigerator we cull fresh peas in December and ice cream in July, so we may plant the seeds of enmity all the year round, but especially in the Cacophonytide. Scarecly is Wishmas * over, with all its factitious heartiness and family friction, before bills and income-tax demands come in. Tempers are frayed, the weather is uniformly detestable; spiritually and physically, the mud is ready -- that rich unwholesome mud in which the Polar seeds can germinate. Plant those seeds now. Do not be discouraged if your opportunities appear limited. The smallest dispute, the most trifling misconception may, if sown with envy, watered with complaints, sprayed with clouds of verbiage, and artificially heated with unrighteous indignation, grow into a lofty and isolated Pole, up which you may climb to look down upon your neighbors.

Last week Stepfather Munchgrief gave you valuable guidance on the propagation of domestic strife; today I will say a few words on the subject of Polar apologetics.

Remember, when cultivating your coldbed of Polemic, never define, never expound, never discuss; only assert and assume. Where there is dogma, there is always a possible basis for agreement; where there is explanation, there is always the peril of mutual understanding; where there is argument, there may be victory and the dreadful prospect of peace. Again, it is often unwise, and always unnecesasry, to invite examination into the merits of your case; far better to rely on a devout invocation of the sacred authorities. "Science tells us -- "; "Progress demands --"; "Modern thought goes to show --." Phrases such as these, uttered with a condescending smile, are far less answerable and provoke infinitely greater irritation.

Be especially careful, when baiting Neo-Scholastics and other superstitious theologians, never to have studied their doctrines -- it will only cramp your style and offer them a handle for controversy. You need only pick up at thirdhand enough of their technical jargon to use it inaccurately and so make rational debate impossible. Follow the example of the Blessed St. Hydra, and when your adversary has hewn away (as he thinks) one misconception, let two sprout in its place; that will tire out his patience. Strive earnestly to confuse every issue; there are no injuries so estranging as those that are dealt in the dark by men who do not know what the quarrel is about.

One final warning: do not fall into the error of intellectual intolerance. reserve your resentment for people, not for ideas. Polarity thrives upon the diffusion of irresponsible opinions, which -- if allowed to flourish unchecked-- may easily grow into ideological tyrannies and nourish feuds of global dimensions. Any effort to oppose a new idea on the specious pretext that it is nasty, false, dangerous, or wrong should be promptly stigmatized as heresy-hunting, medieval obscurantism, or suburban prejudice. If the idea is, in fact, silly or untrue, all the better; you will then be able to sneer impartially at both those who hold and those who condemn it, and thus to enhance that sense of your own superiority that is the sole aim and reward of all Polar activity.

Let us continue, then, on the up and up -- from rod to perch, from perch to pole -- till at last, by modern scientific use of our own bootstraps, we shall rise to our supreme height of lordly stature, no longer dependent upon any man, or even on the gods of our own invention, but every one of us in his or her own exclusive right exalted over every other.

*Wishmas. This festival, which has almost everywhere superseded the [equally -- CG] superstitious commemoration of Christmas, is celebrated by domestic aglomerations and by the exchange of cards, bearing wishes for the recipients' material prosperity, and frequently adorned with ice, snow, holly, and other Polar symbols.

Author: Dorothy Sayers

Cheryl adds -- the only thing she left out of Polar apologetic techniques is that when all else fails and it looks like your opponent has the stronger argument, resort to complaints about its tone and condemn it on the grounds that it hurts your feelings.

No comments: