It would be nice to be able to explain how and why Eagle & Cuckoo came into existence – but I can’t. My best hypothesis is that my subconscious was searching for a less in-your-face way of commenting on America’s decline than the usual polemic; but that would be merely a guess.
At this stage I have no idea whether E&C will succeed or not. E&C is heavily dependent upon irony, whereas the American mindset seems to be (to a transplanted European like me) disconcertingly literal. On the other hand, both Jon Stewart and Bill Maher use irony consistently to great effect. But to niche audiences. Go figure.
The issue came up yesterday when I was talking to a close friend of mine, Greg Wilcox. Greg is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with no less than three tours in Vietnam, and since then has worked for SRI. In short, he is an extremely courageous and intelligent man (and a wonderful human being). Yet he was puzzled by the fact that in E&C, owls are regarded as the dumbest birds in the sky.
“But they are not dumb,” he said. “They’re extremely smart.”
“I know,” I said. “But I’m just turning things upside down. Making owls dumb is part of the joke.”
“And most Americans think a cuckoo is a clock.”
Greg’s second remark had me stumped. As far as I’m concerned, a cuckoo is a bird, and a cuckoo-clock is a clock; but could it really be that 300 million plus Americans didn’t know that?
Or could it be that my audience will be confined to those who do?
This writing business is damnably tough.