Monday 24 October 2022

Irony is weakness

To use irony is, in essence, having it both ways; saying one thing but implying another. 

This is taken as a sign of subtlety and wit - a deliberate 'playfulness' that is much praised in contemporary literature and art; and is certainly appealing at a surface level.

The resulting ambiguity gives access to a larger audience and unifies even Men of opposed tendencies; yet irony is dangerous in these times - a snare that may become a habit. 

This because irony is weakness; it is a hallmark of one who does Not himself know with confidence and surety - and who also does not want to be known as one who operates from solid premises.

And that means weakness; it means lack of courage. 

Courage can only be sustained by solidity, confidence, surety; and sustained courage is essential to choose and keep the side of Good, in a world ruled by evil. 


Michael Baron said...

David Foster Wallace had many astute criticisms of irony, whatever his other flaws.

And make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit "I don’t really mean what I’m saying." So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it’s impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it’s too bad it’s impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today’s irony ends up saying: "How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.

Such techniques, including meta-discursive stuff, self-reference, irony, black humor, cynicism, grotesquerie and shock, it would be safe to say that television or televisual values rule the culture. Television is successfully using a lot of those same techniques but using them for a very different agenda, which is to sort of create an ethos and please people and to sell products to consumers.

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.

jason said...

Irony has never had the bite that sarcasm does.

ben said...

good to remember