FIRST PERSON by Maya Chandrasekaran

"Deep, profound!" reads the latest book review. "A thought - provoking, disturbing portrayal of the psyche of modern man." Nowadays it seems that with reviews like this, a bestseller is made. The book in question is vigourously debated and critiqued and it’s author honoured with any number of high - brow awards.

"And Elijah said to Berokah, ‘These two will also share in the world to come.’ Berokah then asked them, ‘What is your occupation?’ They replied, ‘We are merrymakers. When we see a person who is downhearted, we cheer him up.’

These two were among the very select few who would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven." These lines from the Talmud express my views exactly. What I want to know is, why is it that only serious writing is considered ‘good’ literature? Intellectual snobs seem to view humourists as the lowest strata of society. Why is it that no humourous writer has ever been a Nobel Laureate?

I have enjoyed writing several humourous articles, all of which have been published and appreciated by numerous people, and yet people still have a tendency to say to me, "Yes, that’s all very well, but when will you get into serious writing?" The theory is this - humourous writing is frivolous and for young people, but once you grow up, you graduate to more serious literature. For some reason the world seems to think that serious writing is the be - all and end - all for all writers. The general view is that humourous writing is fine, but it’s soul searching, grim writing that benefits society.

Serious writing is associated with great depth of meaning and profundity of thought, but there are too many people writing thoughtful analyses of the world, and too few bringing smiles to others’ faces.

In Shakespeare’s time, the court jester occupied an enviable social position. Not only were his wit and intelligence widely recognised, but even the King acknowledged and respected his trade. He was allowed to burlesque or ridicule anything absurd in society. For some reason matters have deteriorated since then.

There seems to be far too much analysis, and far too little entertainment. Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath wrote serious literature - look what happened to them (in case you didn’t know, they both committed suicide). P.G. Wodehouse, on the other hand, died at the ripe old age of ninety - two. Need I say more?

Life is quite grim and gloomy enough without authors writing morbid articles on human weakness and corruption. Therefore, as I see it, humourists are doing a great service to a Prozac - prone society by livening the situation. Most people insist that humourists see the world out of focus. The way I see it, it’s the world that’s out of focus, and the humourists are the only people who can see straight.