Have you heard of the Scriblerus Club? It was an authors’ club founded in London in 1714. It was known for its satiric bent. Jonathan Swift was a member.
Western culture had long enjoyed satire, but there was a great satiric revival right after Descartes. Satire became huge.
Can we blame (thank) Descartes?
Don Basil Willey thinks so. The reason? There’s a vast discrepancy between our ideal nature (which was elevated to reality in Descartes’ system) and reality. The comparison (or contrast) provides the fuel for satire. In the words of Willey:
[T]he identification of man’s nature with the thinking principle within—the feeling that we are that part of us which cogitates—must produce the concurrent realisation that there is a vast discrepancy between man’s ideal and his actual nature. The temper which views all things in their theory rather than in their historical setting must also see little, as it gazes upon human institutions, but failure and futility, and as it contemplates human actions, little but departures from the rational norm. It is just in the comparison between actual things and their theory that satire consists, and the dry light of Cartesianism threw upon the deformities of actual humanity just the kind of illumination which is necessary to evoke the satiric comparison. The Seventeenth Century Background (Doubleday, 1953), p. 96.
Put another way: There's a vast discrepancy between our left hemispheric abstractions and reality. The comparison (or contrast) provides the fuel for satire . . . and parody.