Friday, October 14, 2016

Happiness and Success! A short three act play

Every now and then I write a satirical short three act play in Crooked Timber comments. It normally takes 15 minutes to write them, so I don't save them, but this one, I think, catches the mood of the current U.S. election better than any other 15 minute piece I could write. It was originally here.


People should be warned that the levels of meaning and allusion in this play are exceptionally subtle and nuanced: I’m not sure that anyone will understand it immediately. But keep studying it and various symbol-systems may cohere.

Also: trigger warning for eyeball eating and other violence.

Happiness and Success!
A short three act play

Act I
(A WOMAN and A MAN are sitting at a picnic table).

A WOMEN: “I hate this election season. It’s so bitter this year. It’s like our whole civilization is under threat!” [She stabs a fork down into the tray in front of her, pulls out a human eyeball, and eats it.]

A MAN: “Yes, this election isn’t like any other one I’ve heard of. I’m really worried.”

A WOMAN: “I do my best to make things better… I even eat free range eyeballs. “

A MAN: “Free range *people*, honey. It’s not really correct to objectify parts of people that way.”

A WOMAN: “Oh, yes, of course. That’s what that horrible SECOND CANDIDATE does! I can’t believe that for a moment I sounded like SECOND CANDIDATE!” [She eats another eyeball.]

A MAN: “FIRST CANDIDATE will win, if only those young people vote. I don’t know what their problem is, complaining that we ate their eyes and everything.”

A WOMAN: “And they’re so nasty. They even insulted Gloria Steinem!”

Act II
(A circle of GUARDS in standing in the middle of a crowd: each GUARD is holding a leveled automatic weapon. Throughout the scene the GUARDS keep up a low, menacing chant of “KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!” A small group of NIHILISTS stands nearby holding various protest signs.)

A MAN: “He’s running away! KILL!” (A GUARD shoots a running man in the back.)

A WOMAN: “I want to feel safe! KILL!” (Another GUARD shoots three people in the crowd.)

ANOTHER MAN: “Our society is racist! We won’t protect people from dictators.”

ANOTHER WOMAN: “Eh, join in.”

ANOTHER MAN: “All right, I want to fully participate in our society! KILL! KILL!” (GUARDS mow down five more people).

ANOTHER WOMAN: “Law and order! KILL!”

ANOTHER MAN: “Responsibility 2 Protect! KILL!”

A NIHILIST (holding a placard which reads “Maybe we should kill fewer people”): “Um–“

GUARD: “Get back to the free speech zone, sir! Otherwise I will have to KILL!”

A NIHILIST: “Sorry! Going back now!”

ANOTHER MAN: “Racist!”

(the public square. There are happy people, balloons, etc.)

A MAN: “The votes are almost in. I think it’s going to go for FIRST CANDIDATE!”

A WOMAN: “I’m so happy! I love democracy!”

A MAN: “She’s going to win … I’m filled with hope!”

A WOMAN: “By working together we can all figure out how to succeed at whatever we want to do! I’m so happy and full of joy!”

A DIFFERENT MAN: “The votes are in! FIRST CANDIDATE wins!”

The CROWD cheers. FIRST CANDIDATE smilingly takes a machine gun from one of the guards and mows down ten people.

SECOND CANDIDATE: “Eh, she’s still a loser. I would have killed twenty people, because I’m a winner!”


YET ANOTHER WOMAN: “I’m so proud that she’s shown our daughters that anything is possible. Now my little girl will know that she can grow up to kill lots of people just like any man!”

The crowd starts to sing. Even A NIHILIST is pulled in.

“We’re happy and we’re right”
“And oh so polite”
“We know we can succeed”
“And darkness recede”
“Because the killing future is so bright!”

(People are swirling around, laughing, munching on eyeballs, firing weapons into the crowd.)

“Now with this great leap”
“We’ve beaten that creep”
“The election is over”
“And we’re in clover”
“And now it’s time to sleep”


  1. Pretty good. I'm not convinced eyeballs were the best choice. What's wrong with brains?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks! Brains wouldn't be good because zombies eat brains, and zombies have no choice about being zombies. Also, once someone eats your brain you can no longer think, so there's no reason to suppose that your further thoughts are important. Once someone eats your eyes you can no longer see, which is a closer match to young people finding their lives closed in by the effects of older generations' choices.

  4. I've been evicted from CT (I think) can I crash here?

  5. I just read the end of that CT thread and wow, so many sad people. Having had lots of experience with this kind of thing I commented once (which of course did not show up) and I'm moving on to Twitter, which should allow widening my circle of blither as I put it in one of my first Tweets.

    You're welcome to crash, but I'm sure that you'll be able to go back if you want to in a couple of weeks. Or really whenever as long as you are properly penitent.

  6. I don't think I've actually been banned, but my comments are just staying 'in moderation' for hours while other people's appear, even when they are just polite attempts to correct things they and others have written about me.

    There's a pretty obvious political fault line on that thread between the people who are leaving and those who are delighted about it (I tried to say that there too but couldn't). And then on the front page they have a post about Hayden and the Free Speech Movement... I'll have a look for your Twitter.