Friday 7 August 2015

Postmodern irony is strong enough to subvert, but too weak to motivate

Errr... that's it, really.

Richard Rorty, the premier (or at least most comprehensible) philosopher of postmodernity, asserted that we should consciously adopt an ironic attitude to 'truth' (as he regarded truth) - in other words, he promoted the idea that nothing is really real, that all discourse is merely conversation and we can say anything about anything (so long as we are amused and stimulated), that the best morality is the minimization of here-and-now suffering (physical and mental)...

And so on. In a nutshell he said - but in this he was only articulating the consensus of modern public discourse and modern 'leadership' of all modern powerful institutions - that we can build our lives, including our most fundamental beliefs (that is our 'final vocabularies', as he termed them - our moral bottom line) on ironic detachment - on parenthetical 'truth', 'beauty'. 'evil' - he believed that we can and should (or should I say 'should') live our lives in speech marks...

Well, yes we can; but is it enough? By perpetual rotating relativism in the mass media, our culture has successfully imposed irony throughout public discourse - in sum we can be detached about anything, we can be playful about goodness, truth, virtue, beauty... but the deliberate un-realism, the irony, also necessarily becomes habitual, cannot be confined, and spreads to corrodes our positive emotions - our sense of being alive, of life having meaning and purpose, our basic motivations.

That is it: Irony is easy, and easy stuff is net evil.

It is easier to destroy than to sustain and create, easier to snigger than have courage, easier to do nothing or distract ourselves than to do something, easier to engage in moral pandering and showboating than to face facts and make tough decisions, easier to pretend that ugly is beautiful than to make beauty, easier to hate selfishly than to love responsibly, easier to have sex than make love, easier to have fun than have children, and so on... when the only 'difference' between these is in ironic quotes.


Bruce B. said...

I don’t know if this is what you’re describing but at the pop-culture level, nothing is serious, everything is ridiculed, mocked, criticized, make a joke of. Nothing is serious. This mentality is introduced to our children in children’s programming and it’s ubiquitous in adult entertainment too. It’s no wonder people are incapable of seeing anything as sacred because of this mental and spiritual state.

Alan Roebuck said...

Very true, Bruce. And very important.

Postmodern irony is a sort of universal acid, eating away our way of life and our very selves. Or, to switch metaphors, irony is where the rubber of contemporary politically correct leftism meets the road. It’s leftism applied to everyday life.

Irony is also the natural response to the primary moral imperatives of contemporary times: thou shalt not judge, thou shalt be tolerant (aside from the small list of exceptions du jour), and thou shalt celebrate diversity. If everything is to be tolerated, then nothing has value, and life is absurd. Worse, I am absurd. Thus the appeal of irony: It’s the contemporary way of whistling past the graveyard.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Post-modernism is intellectual anarchy with *lulz*

Nathaniel said...

This seems to be a common trap of the devil. The Bible speaks of people being given over to their blindness and disbelief, and God, unlike man, would have no need to appease the crowds or make his truths comfortable.

The BoM has a perfect example as well from 1 Nephi:

"And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also;"