According to Snopes.com, the Urban Legend specialists, glurge is defined as "Chicken Soup for the Soul, with a couple of cups of sugar added". In other words, what would have been a straightforward moral lesson is tarted up with extraneous details that are supposed to make the story (or its characters) more likeable and agreeable to hear. Unfortunately, they end up either undermining their own primary purpose by a) expressing much darker (or even opposite) meanings that the story is purported to relate, b) distorting history to such a point it's unrecognizable as either history or morality and/or c) simply ending up with a story so sickly-sweet as to be repulsive to most ordinary sensibilities. Oh, yes, and did I mention that the story is supposed to get its gravitas because it's true? My friend said it happened to someone she'd heard of from someone else... Snopes offers a "Glurge Gallery", but there's a rich vein of glurge throughout the site, and indeed throughout the Internet. Here's a selection from across the board:


One feature that separates the truly glurgical from the ordinary morality tale or twist of fate is that the story points in so many directions at once, it's hard to figure out what the message actually is.

Let's take the example of the much-reprinted "I am (name drug)" genre. I won't waste bandwidth reprinting any of them, one is to be found here. Suffice it to say that at least a few of these are actually written by ad men and ministers, that they detail excruciatingly and with almost sadistic relish, the depredations of whatever drug (heroin, meth, crack, bananas...) is considered to be the absolute #1 addictive killer that week, with very little personal experience. Now, if you simply presented this as it is, most people wouldn't stop to read it, because "people don't read poetry". So, someone decides to sweeten the pot with a few details. It's not a minister talking, but a real-live addict! And not just a bitter middle-aged man, as terminal junkies are likely to be, but a young girl, dying at the height of her beauty. That's not enough, but she has to be dying of some drug-related condition or disease. Let's even give her a baby!

Therefore , the glurge version will generally tell you to "READ THIS TO YOUR KIDS AND FORWARD".
"This poem was written by a beautiful young girl, a former class valedictorian, who was found dead of AIDS, who just the day before had to put her HIV+ daughter up for adoption, in (name local city). Police officer (name), who found her slumped over this writing, said it was the saddest case he'd ever seen, and has released this poem to sound the alarm to parents and their kids..."

Now then, is the real story "Don't take drugs", "don't have sex", or "use clean needles and condoms"? The parent-like response is to say "Of course, it's the drugs. If she hadn't taken drugs, she wouldn't have prostituted herself, therefore not gotten AIDS, and of course, she wouldn't have gotten pregnant. Of course." But with all the accretions it reads like "Don't feel so bad, you're not a pretty girl who's head of the class". Or "at least ordinary people have more sense than to wreck their lives like that." Or even "she got what she deserved, cock-teasing smart-ass bitch"? Of course, you're smarter than her...

Another one is the fractured history routine. In it, you take more-or-less good history and distort it out of all reasonable bounds to make a feel-good morality tale, such as "The Littlest Gargoyle", which has not only a garden statue that goes with it, but is also available in a childrens' book form with attached CD, and songs.
If you're unfamiliar with this 'legend', which seems to have come from the misty pasts of the late 80's, when medieval fantasy carvings were beginning to become popular decor, here it is as follows. During the construction of Notre-Dame de Paris, in the 12th century, a young nun in a small convent in Provence named Marie-Therese was so shocked and horrified by the idea of ugly gargoyles "so close to Heaven" on the National Cathedral that she left the convent and went to Paris. There, dressed in men's clothing, she infiltrated the building site, only to be told that she could only carve what the other men were doing. Undeterred, she "quickly" hammered out a cute, child-like gargoyle, and under cover of night, took it up the scaffolding to "the highest point" where "only God could see it". Returning to Provence, she never told anyone about it.
Many years afterward, a young boy made it to the top of Notre-Dame and slipped...straight into the arms of The Littlest Gargoyle, which held him tenderly, like a mother... From then on, "Dedo" has been world-famous...

First, and foremost, anyone who seriously looks at Medieval carvings will agree that lack of originality and/or artistic freedom isn't the issue. In fact, in terms of creativity, Medieval grotesques (which are any kind of carving, not only the glorified waterspouts we consider Gargoyles, and which Dedo can more properly be called) rank as one of the most wildly creative genres in the history of art. There are winged, demonic, gargoyles, yes, but there are also cow gargoyles, pilgrim, peasant and beggar gargoyles, panther, lion, dog, plant-form and abstract gargoyles. There are grotesques, carvings and bas reliefs that span over all known Medieval experience, the sacred, profane, lyrical, transcendent, diabolical and just plain unexplainable. About all that seems barred would be a Penis gargoyle (it would seem only natural), and it's seems only for lack of looking that someone hasn't found one of those yet.

Secondly, although the winged, horned figure with his chin in his hands (again not a gargoyle) nicknamed "Satan", is one of the most popular grotesques on the Cathedral, he is by no means prominent nor typical, being relatively small and quite high up. Nor is the face of the Cathedral at all given over to "ugly", "diabolical", or depressing subjects: there are carvings and reliefs depicting such subjects as Adam and Eve, The Twelve Apostles, The Four Greater and Twelve Lesser Prophets, every Biblical story you can name (and then some),the (then) six notes of the musical scale, the eight hours of the canonical day, the seven liberal arts, the four elements and quarters of the earth, all one hundred and fifty Psalms, The Consoling Goddess of Learning, Philosophia (one of my happiest memories was leaning on Her sun-warmed bronze shoulder), and pretty much anything else you can name: the Cathedral School used it as a kind of blackboard.

Thirdly, most French nuns of the Languedoc would have given no more than an expressive shrug at the idea of any kind of carving on a building (grotesques are hardly only found in Gothic cathedrals, but on nearly every building of any note throughout the Medieval period) that would have been for her, in another country altogether (her primary interest would have been in Avignon).

Fourthly, her apparent ease at slipping out of the convent and making it to Paris is suspicious in the extreme: under the Rule of St. Benedict, her impulsive dashing off would have been seen as a severe infraction, and she would (most likely) not be let back in, and a woman traveling alone (no matter in what kind of outfit) would have had to deal with the problem of finding food and safe lodging while walking over the length of a land about the size of Texas.

Let's pass over the difficulties of convincing the soft-stone masons that despite a foreign accent, short stature, no notions of guild etiquette and rules, and a tendency to pee squatting, that you are, indeed, qualified to take up a borrowed hammer and chisel. The idea that she can instantly take up a small block of stone and quickly make a cute grotesque (why not an angel? a female figure rejoicing? Oh, it's the symbolic 'son' she can't have!) out of it, and then be able to carry this bowling-ball-sized piece of stone up about a hundred feet without anyone seeing her ranks as much more of a miracle than the chance that the "young boy" (thus giving her a real 'son' in place of the stone one) falling from the sky (after all, it's already "up where only God can see it") would be caught by it (completing the cycle, as the stone becomes her loving arms) and not bring both of them down onto the pavement below. And then, even though Marie-Therese (already a suspect name, since double names weren't common until at least 500 years afterward) never spoke to anyone about her adventure, upon being caught, the little boy (and everyone else) instantly was able to piece together the story of this particular cubelet of stone. (Unverifiable details are a staple of glurgical stories.)

Lastly, no one I've seen has ever photographed Dede in situ, only as an isolated bit of stonework, and indeed Notre-Dame's own website is silent on this matter.

And the moral of the story is? Uh....artistic freedom? Giving to the Lord only what is best? Humanizing the Middle Ages? Vatican II? Uh, fighting against the excesses of the Counter-Reformation that wouldn't happen for 400 years? Teaching children about the Middle Ages? Notre-Dame? Catholicism?

What you're trying to do is project a 21st century moral onto a 12th century building. Worse, you really aren't teaching anything about Medieval art or thought, as much as you're trying to emphasize that the morals and artistic tastes of our own time are so much better than anyone else's that even the Lord Himself shows His favor (through miracles) upon them. Far from making the Cathedral interesting, it comes off as a dull and ugly building, built by unthinking teams of unimaginative men too set in their ways to contemplate the softer, feminine side of life (Um, isn't the notion of a Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary kind of a step in that direction?) of note only because one small detail attributed to a pissed-off arty type looks like a younger version of Yoda. What makes the structure so mindblowingly awe-inspiring to walk through that even the Revolutionaries sent to raze the place left it alone isn't the impulsive work of a prettily named girl from down where it's always sunny and all the flowers grow, but the teamwork and finely honed engineering, crafting and artistic expertise of hundreds upon hundreds of men, women, and even children who gave their best knowing that no one but God would ever know their names. Heck, explaining even one part of the debunking I've just given you would teach kids far more about the real Middle Ages than this whole story....

Glurge doesn't only deal with young women: as a matter of fact, its favored characters tend to be soldiers, children, and God. Dying soldiers' last requests, little kids who were saved by angels (and only can describe them as "birdies"), missionaries saved from headhunters by hometown pray-ers, kiddies writing heart-wrenching tales of their abuse from beyond the grave, handicapped children adopting handicapped puppies, and the ever-popular "kid begs parent several times to come home from the bar (shooting gallery, crack house, etc.) 'cause Baby Sis is dying" stories, all fall into this category. In this case, the only thing that keeps them from say, a Jack Chick comic is that they're all supposed to be True.

But then, so is "Go Ask Alice"....isn't it?

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