Curmudgeonry, My New Religion

This is an excerpt from the book The Portable Curmudgeon, by Jon Winokur. I’m making it my new religion.

1. archaic: a crusty, ill-tempered, churlish old man
2. modern: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

The Portable Curmudgeon

The Portable Curmudgeon

“A curmudgeon’s reputation for malevolence is undeserved. They’re neither warped nor evil at heart. They don’t hate mankind, just mankind’s excesses. They’re just as sensitive and soft-hearted as the next guy, but they hide their vulnerability beneath a crust of misanthropy. They ease the pain by turning hurt into humor. They snarl at pretense and bite at hypocrisy out of a healthy sense of outrage. They attack maudlinism because it devalues genuine sentiment. They hurl polemical thunderbolts at middle-class values and pop culture in order to preserve their sanity. Nature, having failed to equip them with a serviceable denial mechanism, has endowed them with astute perception and sly wit. Offense is their only defense. Their weapons are irony, satire sarcasm, ridicule. Their targets are pretense, pomposity, conformity, incompetence. And they’ll tell you their targets are everywhere and multiplying like Smurfs.

“Curmudgeons are mockers and debunkers whose bitterness is a symptom rather than a disease. They can’t compromise their standards and can’t manage the suspension of disbelief necessary for feigned cheerfulness. Their awareness is a curse; they’re constantly ticked off because they’re constantly aware of so much to be ticked off about, and they wish things were better.

“Perhaps curmudgeons have gotten a bad rap in the same way that the messenger is blamed for the message: They have the temerity to comment on the human condition without apology. They not only refuse to applaud mediocrity, they howl it down with morose glee. Their versions of the truth unsettle us, and we hold it against them, even though they soften it with humor.”

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