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Every civilization worth the flame of its kiln produces an epic that combines poetry, storytelling, philosophy, and commentary.
Greece had The Iliad. Rome had The Aeneid. The Brits have Beowulf.
The civilization that postdates Twitter’s 2006 launch now has its epic: Woke: A Guide to Social Justice.
The book, written in the first person, includes a helpful introduction:
Allow me to formally introduce myself. My name is Titania Gethsemane McGrath. I am a radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice and armed peaceful protest.
Last week, Tucker Carlson committed the ultimate microaggression against the author by interviewing a British comedian who called her a “parody.”
Parody, though, evokes delight by distorting something that exists. The work of Titania McGrath delights in nothing that exists.
She refuses to laugh, especially at herself. Here are a few lines of her slam poetry, from a piece titled “Comedy”:
Punchlines are bayonets, severing throats
In a toxic chucklesmog of despair.
A homicidal mirth-whore speaks blood
And spills his surly mousse of ruination.
A second Rwanda.
Also, unlike parody, Titania McGrath is real by the rules that say if you deny global warming you can be investigated by Canadian authorities. She is real because she politically compels you to accept her. What could be more real than that?
Moreover, she has a deliberately posed profile picture: a pouty smile beneath welder’s glasses and carefully disheveled blond hair that together scream “conventional Scandinavian beauty.”
Which means she must be real.
Finally, her social media outrage makes her real. That is why I was reluctant to describe her as conventionally beautiful, which she considers a form of tyranny. But dammit, she is hot.
Putting aside the patriarchal attempts to silence her by calling her a parody and thereby metaphorically pinching her ass, Titania McGrath is on a mission.
She has something approaching apostolic zeal in her singular obsession to make people “Woke.” As she puts it:
Anyone can be an activist. By simply adding a rainbow flag to your Facebook profile, or calling out an elderly person who doesn’t understand what ‘non-binary’ means, you can change the world for the better. Indeed, social media has now made it possible to show how virtuous you are without having to do anything at all.
The first three chapters of her book, “My Struggle,” “Fuck the Patriarchy,” and “The Tyranny of Facts,” sprint out of the gate and set the pace for what follows, each chapter standing alone as the most important essay of this generation or any other.
Including even those unfortunate generations that had their best essays burned when Julius Caesar set aflame the Library of Alexandria, destroying in the process all the great works of antiquity.
We don’t know exactly what was lost, but there had to be at least one or two Greek tomes penned by distracted, verbally impulsive, post-adolescent girls convinced that the world is against them.
Mx. McGrath modestly fails to note that her first chapter’s title is actually the English translation of the more well-known German expression, Mein Kampf. In it, she gives a hint at the refiner’s fire that forged her steely Twitter presence:
My higher education was fairly typical. I studied Modern Languages at Oxford University and then stayed on for an MA in Gender Studies where I wrote a groundbreaking dissertation on technopaganism and the corrosive nature of cis-masculine futurity. It’s the kind of degree that prepares you for life in the real world . . . . I don’t write poems; I write eviscerating daggers of truth . . . . I have made it my mission to change the world for the better, to follow in the footsteps of such trailblazing luminaries as Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and that guy who played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek.
For her honesty, Titania is figuratively drawn and quartered with the executioner’s techniques of the present age. She is sometimes unfollowed and was once temporarily banned on Twitter for a day. There’s not even an emoji for that.
Some human experiences are impossible to describe because language itself is inherently limited. The collected works of William Shakespeare touch upon love and betrayal but fail to define them concisely. “World War II” does not begin to depict that particular car crash.
Woke: A Guide to Social Justice is one of those things. Any attempt to discuss it—as Tucker Carlson did and as I have done here—is a malignant self-gratifying gesture that diminishes the book like a fat joke in the workplace that would get someone fired.
We are typical privileged white males appropriating Titania McGrath’s idiosyncratic zeal without her consent. That is no different than forcibly groping her in 1983.
Titania McGrath would be perfectly justified to look me in the eye and tweet #MeToo.
I will stop now and apologize to anyone I have ever injured. Titania McGrath has achieved her purpose in this reader. I am Woke.
A parody couldn’t do that.