riffs & rants blog

The World According to Snark

The World According To Snark

In this cynical, media-saturated circus we play in, there are few things that tickle me more than The Art of Snark.

Yes, I said it: Snark. And Art. Sharing the same phrase. It works for me; done well, it’s a wonderful literary device.

“If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,
And it’s handy for striking a light.
You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap—”
~From Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of The Snark,” c.1874

Don’t get me wrong. The vast majority of people striving to employ snark as a catchy, schticky, marketing device fail miserably. At best, they come off as stupid. At worst… still stupid. It feels as if they’re trying to contrive quirk because they sense – on some primordial level, perhaps – that pretty much all of their “work” is derivative and boring, perhaps rising to the level of poach or plagiarism, if they’re lucky…

… But back to the Art of Snark..

The Hunting of the Snark
The Hunting of the Snark

As awash as we are in crappy writing and crappier marketing, it’s so refreshing when a biting wit is so deftly leveraged to illuminate our foibles and follies. The rant and the rage turns on its head and I’m enlightened. I’m lead down a path of discovery, when the story’s told in a narrative voice with an edge that’s as sage as it is cutting. It’s a device, I know it’s a device, and I LOVE the device. Writers who’re really good at it creatively lead me from the relative ease of some minor outrage directly into the sometimes less comfortable territory of greater self-awareness. And here’s the thing they’re good at and they don’t over use it. No over-snarking. They season their stuff with a little pepper. They don’t stuff a fistful of peppercorns down your throat. Every post is not a rant, every stance is not a defiance.

So many so-called writers and self-annointed thought leaders try to strike the Ironic Pose, the real irony being that, in effect, there’s nothing more than idiocy in that stance. Not so with the The Art of Snark draws me in, the strong commanding voice and effortless command of language leads me onward; I connect and jump on the bandwagon. All the while, I’m being lead inexorably toward a realization that my certainties have been shaken, my default set has been reset, and a fresh perspective …

One of my fave practitioners of the craft is Erika Napoletano. I ALWAYS get something from her snark art. Why? because she has a point, she gets to the point and she very clearly makes and defends her point; with sass and style. What about you? Have anyone who you like to read who uses snark to great effect? Dish! I love it when people turn me on to new finds…

– M

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