Jonathan Swift and His Modest Proposal on Eating Poor Kids

Save the world, eat children. A “Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift would not be so modest it it were no for the obscene language to make the idea seem less abominable – that is to say – because of the use of obscene language, the tone of the dilemma does seem modest or even a bit comical at times. These reaction or sympathies are created with Jonathan Swift’s use of diction and syntax; he takes two unwanted objects (children and poor people) and confers vulgar language upon them to convince us to side with the lesser of the two ‘evils.’ It is this obscene literature that diverts the attention away from the actual ideas in the proposal and converts the idea of devouring poor children into an economical and viable opportunity.

Swift first proposes the problem with complete anti-veneration towards the poor: “the children of poor people [are] a burden to their parents or county.”
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His usage of negative language invites us to have the same disdain for these ‘poor children’, or burdens, as he calls them. First he finds a common ground to unite the people and then he charges poor children as the enemy. He has chosen a common enemy and is now attacking them with negative ideas.

But attacking children and making them seem useless is kind of hard to do; people have morals and won’t stand for the abuse of children. Swift realizes this and then deploys scatology in order to distract us as readers. From this point on, Swift treats these children as commodities or trade-able objects and realizes that it would be vein to just kill children, so he then justifies this case by stating that grown people need to eat as well. He appeals to our survival instincts, eliciting the “better you than me” mentality which is natural to humans.

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Swift takes the conscious and taboo topic of poverty and presents the arguments that wealthy or working people can agree with. He does this by proposing to turn these children into a ‘livestock’ which is a business and process that all people are familiar with. This serves as a euphemism to disguise the idea of harvesting children and makes the explicit implicit in seasonal foods. Stating that “a good fat child” can serve up to four people with “nutritive meat” is an example of a logical appeal made to us readers.

“A good fat thick” sounds disgusting at first but when contrasted with nutritive meat for you and your family, the argument seems a bit more plausible. Clearly, Swift’s use of vulgar comparisons serves as a platter for serving improper grossness as a permissible delicacy.

Swift counters the negative with a kind of humility when he states, “I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration…” So Swift is proposing a very immoral idea yet it doesn’t seem so bad, after all, this is a humble offer isn’t it? With words such as humble or modest to counteract the negative charges, the ideas once again don’t seem as horrific. This is why swift repeats himself multiple times by presenting this proposal as humble or modest.

Another counter action in this proposal would be Swift’s references to everyday people (his American friend), French physicians, and famous formosans, George Psalmanazar. With these cases, Swift has us asking of ourselves: if this is common knowledge to the rest of the world and well known to renowned scientists, then why not hear out this modest proposal? He places ideas into perspective; from the common man to the Irish man.

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To defend his argument, Swift invites others to oppose his scatology and still be able “to find food and raimnet for an hundred thousand useless mouths and backs.” Once again, he is using reverse psychology to challenge an individual to defend those “useless mouths and backs.” If anybody does challenge Swift, then they are subject to supporting poverty, useless bodies and contributing to the laziness of those who “wish to deliver the Kingdom to the Pretender.”

When this proposal is not acting humble, it is firing off into the direction of comical dissolution to the victimization of children, or as Swift would put it, the salvation of a country and a people. When studied closely, one can see that it is the art of scatology that makes this proposal plausible, implicit and modest.

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Dante’s Inferno: What the Hell is all About!

We can thank Dante’s Inferno for those horrific dreams of burning in purgatory.

Yes, this was first published over 400 years ago, yet, it remains relevant today in all of our media. If Hell appears in a movie, book, TV show, or cartoon, it’s going to drawn from Dante. If you haven’t read THE DIVINE COMEDY yet, then you must. Whether or not you are Christian, you will find some of the most indelible images in the history of literature, as well as a book of redemptive philosophy the likes of which are rarely matched. Also, it’s just great poetry. Seek it out.

Also, Horror fans seem to be less prejudiced when it comes to old or ancient literature. Sure, we all like to stay abreast of Stephen King, Clive Barker, or any number of great living horror authors, but I know of no horror fan who hasn’t read Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, Milton’s PARADISE LOST, Henry James’ THE TURN OF THE SCREW, or Robert Louis Stevenson’s THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. And, yes, no horror fan alive isn’t intimately familiar with the various mythic works of H.P. Lovecraft, or the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.

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There are a few notable details, however, that we would do well to remember when thinking about Hell. First of all, you don’t necessarily have to be dead to go to Hell. In Dante’s visions, he sees people he knows to be alive already languishing in certain Hell circles. Their bad habits on Earth are already torturing their souls. This means that, even though they are in Hell, they are still perhaps poised for redemption.

dante's inferno
Dante’s Inferno still influences our perceptions of hell, to this day!

And OH, the tortures Dante cooked up for these people in the eighth circle of Dante’s Inferno! Some of the liars are eternally forced to fight among themselves, punching and kicking and biting for as long as they are lost in their own interests. People have their heads forced down into rock tubes where they are blind and eternally bent. Others are blinded, and also forced to walk backwards eternally.

Evil clawed demons called Malabranche tear apart corrupt politicians. Hypocrites wear lead robes and are forced to march. Thieves are eaten alive by serpents. Most notably, some lost souls are in a state of eternal immolation, invisible because of the flames. The notion of Hell being a fiery place likely comes from this very punishment. Yes, demons rend people with swords, and people are forced to live with the symptoms of all the worst diseases. Hey, it’s Hell. Things aren’t supposed to be rosy.

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Unlike the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, which told the great stories of their people’s history, Dante’s The Divine Comedy is a somewhat autobiographical work, set at the time in which he lived and peopled with contemporary figures. Dante’s Divine Comedy, a landmark in Italian literature and among the greatest works of all medieval European literature, is a profound Christian vision of humankind’s temporal and eternal destiny. It follow’s Dante’s own allegorical journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso). Guided at first by the character of Virgil, and later by his beloved Beatrice, Dante wrote of his own path to salvation, offering philosophical and moral judgments along the way.

The author of La Commedia (The Divine Comedy), considered a masterwork of world literature, Dante Alighieri was born Durante Alighieri in Florence, Italy, in 1265, to a notable family of modest means. His mother died when he was seven years old, and his father remarried, having two more children.

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“The Plague” by Albert Camus: A Synopsis

There is no more important book to understand our times than Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” a novel about a virus that spreads uncontrollably from animals to humans and ends up destroying half the population of a representative modern town. Camus speaks to us now not because he was a magical seer, but because he correctly sized up human nature. As he wrote: ‘Everyone has inside it himself this plague, because no one in the world, no one, can ever be immune.’

Watch this quick synopsis produced by The School of Life:

The Plague

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Monster Monday or Monday Motivation?

The week has just begun – it’s Monday, get out there and terrorize that village… err, attack that work project with the tenacity of a laboratory engineered superhuman.

Bukowski Quotes

Bukowski wrote that, “Sadness is caused by intelligence, the more you understand certain things, the more you wish you didn’t understand them.”

In his honor of Bukowski, here are his best quotes!

1) “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts. While the stupid ones are full of confidence.” – Charles Bukowski

2) “Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must live.” – Charles Bukowski

Bukowski Quotes for Mind on Fire Books

3)  “Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski

4) “I wasn’t much for a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

5) “You’ve to die a few times before you actually live.” – Charles Bukowski

6) “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.” 

7) “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.” 

8) “The less I needed, the better I felt.” – Charles Bukowski

9) “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” – Charles Bukowski

We have a funny Hemmingway joke for you!

Bukowski quotes
Bukowski quote for mind on fire books

10) “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” – Charles Bukowski

11) “We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing. ” 

12) “The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” 

13) “The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you.”  

14) “We must.. We must bring our own light to the darkness” – Charles Bukowski

15) “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” ― Charles Bukowski

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Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature.

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Happy Birthday to Me and These Famous Birthdays

Happy Birthday to me and my shared famous birthdays with Robert Penn Warren and Anthony Trollop – Two Monster writers!. I first read Robert Penn Warren in a community college class and fell in love with his drama, charm, and lively Southern characters. Anthony Trollop is simply a wordsmith. He used to wake up and write for two hours each morning before working at the post office. Maybe that’s the ritual that I need to develop to be able to punch out more dark fiction. He’s not for everyone (me included) but we share a birthday so he’s cool with me 🙌.

Happy Birthday to all you lovely Taurus people born on this day!