A Volid Manifesto

In an era of post-postmodernism, post-irony, and deep cynicism contrasted with Panglossian optimism, the time has come to introduce the world to volidity. Volidity as a concept is versatile and multifaceted, yet is distinct from other voices and devices. Where snark brings people down, volidity builds things up. Mean-spirited nihilism, which is as natural a reaction to the "ordered disorder, planned caprice, and dehumanized humanity" (as Berthold Brecht would call it) of our time as any, presents a unique dilemma. It cannot be offhandedly dismissed or surmounted head on and yet it must be confronted in some way. Rather than sunny-sided optimism, volidity approaches these issues obliquely, providing an alternative channel for such energies. Though the volid may stare at tragedy with the detached and "godlike composure of an innocent child" (like The Good Soldier Švejk), they will never throw up their arms in despair. If the world makes us feel like Ivan Denisovich, we must instead respond like Ivan Chonkin.

The volid-minded, like Pechorin from A Hero of Our Time, "find sad things funny and funny things sad." In practice, volidity renders the significant banal and the meaningless profound. Thus is inversion the classically volid act. Through this détournement, the issues of our era can be brought into focus, rather than the myopia and hyperopia that characterize current mainstream forms of analysis. The social critique that comes with volid inversion is both incidental and central; the process itself reorients our sensibilities. If indeed it is true that—in the words of Georg Lukács—"Kafka was a realist after all," then our embrace of the absurd and the surreal merely forms a reflection of material conditions in the world today.

In practical terms, the volid-minded will act in a variety of ways. They will invent new words where old ones were deemed sufficient. They will tell members of various nations, religions, and factions how they might improve their symbols. They will take inspiration from the lowest of low food culture and make it palatable for the highest of the haute bourgeoisie (and vice-versa). They will recount fables of mostly irrelevant characters. They will make mountains out of minutiae and summarize the most complex issues of our time in fewer than five words. The volid will flag incoming spam messages in their inbox as "important" and then craft thorough and heartfelt responses. Screencaps, underpowered scanners, and copious hyperlinks are the archival tools of volid scholars. When faced with a misquote, such as "The future will be better tomorrow" (spoken by former U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle), the volid will not mock the speaker for his ignorance or merely dismiss such a statement as a mistake. The volid will instead take this statement and create a new existentialist philosophy with that as its founding principle.

This document does not seek to confuse or be disingenuous, for that would not be volid! Indeed, volidity comprises many things, but at its core, it is sincere. The concept of volidity predates this document and even the coining of the term. Rather, it is a idea that has existed throughout the past, which had not been articulated in this way before. But for now, let us embrace the future, which will certainly be better tomorrow. And the future is volid.

〠 Herrence Meritocracy, 2012