You Did Get Through To Him [ Sony Barari ]

Submitted by Blake on Mon, 03/11/2002 - 09:25

The author of Library science degree: file that under ‘stupid’ has written this in reponse to the harassment (my words not his Sony Barari that is) he\'s had to deal with since his story broke.

Sony Barari writes:
Sometimes negative attention forces you to stop and wonder: what exactly are we doing as comedians and satirists? While the bulk of satire may seem relatively superficial and too often topical to provide any real and lasting value from an intellectual standpoint, it does serve as a magnifying glass for that brief moment in which it is read, intensifying the reader’s scrutiny upon the subject at hand. Like any other mode of expression, however, it cannot function at all without attention. In this way it may be like a gross New York Post tabloid, but the objectives cannot be systematically simplified and subsequently relegated to some recess of literary darkness.

His story continues below...
As an immutable fact, any piece of such satire, when written with edge and conviction and compounded with a large body of attention, must then cause agitation among its readers. I will neither decry this as unfortunate, nor laud it as beneficial. It is simply a fact, and by that virtue the piece must meet with resistance. Is it merely that “good taste and humour are a contradiction in terms,” as Malcolm Muggeridge stated, or is there a greater underlying propensity to infuriate when relating some agenda, be it political, ideological, or otherwise? This is the paradox in which the satirist resides, and the consternation of some is an inevitable corollary. Charles Dickens mused, “I believe no satirist could breathe this air. If another Juvenal or Swift could rise up among us tomorrow, he would be hunted down. If you have any knowledge of our literature, and can give me the name of any man, American born and bred, who has anatomised our follies as people, and not as this or that party, and who has escaped the foulest and most brutal slander, the most inveterate hatred and intolerant pursuit; it will be a strange name in my ears, believe me.”
Logically enough the primary group so roused is that which is the focus of the satirist’s meditation. Regardless of how much acclaim is received from other demographics, it is the negative feedback that must necessarily garner so much attention. Perhaps this is poetic justice to the satirist, but the positive is the subsequent opening of dialogue, both beautiful and profane, and the creation of a forum for discussion on the salient topic. Indeed, does not the projected illiteracy and ignorance of the author do nothing less than mediate the ensuing dialogue? Ronald Knox, in describing the institution of American satire, contended that “the hall-mark of American humour is its pose of illiteracy.” From Shakespeare to The Onion, this is true not only of the American incarnation, but of humor in general. To pretend illiteracy is certainly not to be uneducated, but to be tame is indeed to preclude progression. If one can overcome initial offense and examine the satire’s intent more closely, the impetus shifts from one of dismay to one of epistemology, and the inherent ambiguity of the author’s objective serves as a powerful catalyst for reflection. If some are disillusioned, it is not especially of import, as many more will proceed from that disillusionment to insight, to intelligence and understanding, and finally, to laughter.
For those who still require further and more specific explanation, I assure you that I have the utmost respect for librarians and their profession. I can\'t imagine anything more vital and integral to academia than information dispersal and communication. Which is precisely the point of the article I wrote. I hoped that the juxtaposition of such a clearly noble profession with some of the gross stereotypes associated with it would help enlighten the reader as to the clear chasm that separates informed and misinformed formation of opinions. I chose library science as the catalyst for this concept because I felt the disparity between common sense and misconception was the greatest here. The extreme sensitivity of the library community was foolishly omitted from these considerations.
Now, I sent an apology/explanation to the Daily Bruin as soon as I realized what an uproar my article had created, in the hopes that they would print it. Being recently told by the editor that it is not the policy of that paper to print apologies or follow-ups, I am resorting to statements of this nature. On a more personal note, let me tell you a little about myself that might help ground the article more clearly. Ever since I can remember, I have absolutely loved to read. In elementary and junior high school, I actually had my mom pick me up an hour after school got out so that I could hang out in the library and read. Inevitably, some shushing and dirty glances did occur, but for the most part I have maintained a great relationship with the librarians who I dealt with in the past, and respect them deeply. In fact, my best friend\'s mother is a librarian (the housewife \"type\"), and I think that she is a wonderful person, and that her job is infinitely important to the kids and adults in my small hometown. As for college, I can\'t even begin to describe the amount of time (aside from studying) that I\'ve spent here at the UCLA libraries. From days spent in the book stacks, to lazy afternoons looking through archived Time magazines, I have utilized and enjoyed the libraries here as much as anyone else. I have cherished the opportunity to watch films from D.W. Griffith to old TV episodes in the media lab. I am not a moron, and I realize that it takes a lot of time, effort, and skill to orchestrate a library system as massive as the one here at UCLA, and others like it around the world. I am very sincere in this, and am now getting frustrated by the constant and numerous attacks directed at me. It is my hope that these apologies and explanations are considered by the library community. For fear that I may never again be welcome in a library, even as I move on to law school next year, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you now for the knowledge and experiences gained in your buildings. Thanks for the memories.

-Sony Barari