The central fact for me is, I think, that the [role of the] intellectual... cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d'etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.
(on the current state of satire) Alas, irreverence has been subsumed by mere grossness, at least in the so-called mass media. What we have now--to quote myself at my most pretentious--is a nimiety of scurrility with a concomitant exiguity of taste. For example, the freedom (hooray!) to say almost anything you want on television about society's problems has been co-opted (alas!) by the freedom to talk instead about flatulence, orgasms, genitalia, masturbation, etc., etc., and to replace real comment with pop-culture references and so-called "adult" language. Irreverence is easy--what's hard is wit.tom lehrer
She taught me what her uncle once taught her: How easily the biggest coal block split If you got the grain and hammer angled right. The sound of that relaxed alluring blow, Its co-opted and obliterated echo, Taught me to hit, taught me to loosen, Taught me between the hammer and the block To face the music. Teach me now to listen, To strike it rich behind the linear black.seamus heaney