In defence of sarcasm

“Thankfully “Behind the Blip” doesn’t subscribe to the fetishes of computer science. The essence of software is revealed through sarcasm. “Sarcasm is truth,” Fuller claims. For a frequent collaborator with the collective Mongrel, this is quite apposite: the term comes from an an Ancient Greek verb meaning ‘to tear flesh like dogs’. Those accustomed to the refined snobbery of Culture may find this the lowest form of wit. But the bark of laughter sarcasm elicits, in its mordant invective, is a lively sign of the pleasure to be had from cutting the crap, eliminating stupidity and getting down to the vulgar materiality of basics. Thinking like a dog – mongrelisation – may be the only way to scare a bit of life into the moribund body of ‘theory’ and break the circuit of plugged-in fascination with software. Ruff ruff.”

Andrew Goffey, reviewing Matthew Fuller’s “Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software” in Mute 27

Puts me in mind of a scene right at the end (spoilers!) of Somerset Maugham’s novel “Then and Now” – an historical fiction about Machiavelli. In it Machiavelli muses on how ridicule is an enormously powerful weapon, virtually impossible to defend against…

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