There is a kind of virtue that lies not in extraordinary actions, not in saving poor orphans from burning buildings, but in steadfastly working for a world where orphans are not poor and buildings comply with decent fire codes.
Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. [.] The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years.
When an orphan is depressed, " wrote Wilbur Larch, "he is attracted to telling lies. A lie is at least a vigorous enterprise, it keeps you on your toes by making you suddenly responsible for what happens because of it. You must be alert to lie, and stay alert to keep your lie a secret. Orphans are not the masters of their fates; they are the last to believe you if you tell them that other people are also not in charge of theirs. When you lie, it makes you feel in charge of your life. Telling lies is very seductive to orphans. I know, " Dr. Larch wrote. "I know because I tell them, too. I love to lie. When you lie, you feel as if you have cheated fate-your own, and everybody else's.
If the Baudelaire orphans had been stalks of celery, they would not have been small children in great distress, and if they had been lucky, Carmelita Spats would have not approached their table at this particular moment and delivered another unfortunate message. "Hello, you cakesniffers, " she said, "although judging from the baby brat you're more like saladsniffers. I have another message for you from Coach Genghis. I get to be his Special Messenger because I'm the cutest, prettiest, nicest little girl in the whole school." "If you were really the nicest person in the whole school, " Isadora said, "you wouldn't make fun of a sleeping infant. But never mind, what is the message?" "It's actually the same as last time, " Carmelita said, "but I'll repeat it in case you're too stupid to remember. The three Baudelaire orphans are to report to the front lawn tonight, immediately after dinner." "What?" Klaus asked. "Are you deaf as well as cakesniffy?" Carmelita asked.