Love & Irony

One uninvited guest of the last 30 years is irony. Life today, as we all know, is constantly self-aware. “The Daily Show” has replaced the evening news. David Foster Wallace has replaced Allen Ginsberg. Reality TV has replaced sitcoms. Advertisement has replaced everything. Irony is anathema to love; it is its opposite. Irony takes a large world and makes it very small, conceals it within a turned phrase; love freezes the world, expands a point into the universe. Lou Reed, who has spanned our generations, sings that love is “turning time around.”

From this Salong article, entitled “Love in the age of irony

I had some long and witty thing (ok. Perhaps not witty. But long), which seems to have disapeared in the saving of this. Instead, I’ll point out that while incredibly short and low on breadth, the analysis of events and coverage on “The Daily Show” often far excedes that on, say, Global news at 11 (I still give the CBC the benefit of the doubt).

10 Replies to “Love & Irony”

  1. I’m reacting really badly to this article. I want to lash out at it. I can’t decide why yet.

    Let me just say at least that I think “irony is the anathema to love” is maybe just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. I think that maybe “earnestness” is the anathema of irony. And if you think that earnestness is love, then I guess that’s your thing, and I hope you enjoy your couples therapy.

    I think this article has crystalized for me a building thing in me: impatience with a brand of irony without that lacks absurtity. Irony minus absurdity equals something like detachement, which I’ll agree is a strategy that only works for so long. And is boring.

    But love is absurd. It’s wonderful, and a whole lot of other things too, but it’s absurd. So are jobs. So is family. So are names and words. These things that bind us to each other are bizarre and hilarious. All this crap we do is insane and laughable. So at the very least, love is ironic.

    So, I guess what I take from the article is that, yes, a bunch of people are growing up and finding emptiness in posing around, being all detatched and ironic. Fine. Not front page news.

    I suppose one way to react to having one’s ironic coolness finally play out to an unsatisfying end is to siwng the other way and try to be all self-actualizing and emotionally honest. Quit the punk band and take up yoga.

    Instead, you can react by remembering that we’re all fucked-up animals running around doing crazy shit on an unstable ball hurtling through space around a vast atomic explosion. And thinking that we get it.

    This decidedly unironic American fundamentalism that seems to permeate everthing lately freaks me out, and it freaks me out even more that these 20-somethings aren’t leading the charge in the other direction. Screw that. One of the basic jobs of young people is to fuck things up; to be yet another force of nature ruining all our incredibly important plans.

    So when I hear people putting down irony, I think the problem is that they just aren’t trying hard enough. Yes, engage with the world and try to make a difference, but don’t take it to seriously or you’ll suffocate and you’ll make the world boring. Work hard at your randomness. Fuck up somebody’s day. Remember that you’re an ape. EE ee oO oOO AAAAA!!!

  2. I’m reacting really badly to this article. I want to lash out at it. I can’t decide why yet.

    Let me just say at least that I think “irony is the anathema to love” is maybe just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. I think that maybe “earnestness” is the anathema of irony. And if you think that earnestness is love, then I guess that’s your thing, and I hope you enjoy your couples therapy.

    I think this article has crystalized for me a building thing in me: impatience with a brand of irony without that lacks absurtity. Irony minus absurdity equals something like detachement, which I’ll agree is a strategy that only works for so long. And is boring.

    But love is absurd. It’s wonderful, and a whole lot of other things too, but it’s absurd. So are jobs. So is family. So are names and words. These things that bind us to each other are bizarre and hilarious. All this crap we do is insane and laughable. So at the very least, love is ironic.

    So, I guess what I take from the article is that, yes, a bunch of people are growing up and finding emptiness in posing around, being all detatched and ironic. Fine. Not front page news.

    I suppose one way to react to having one’s ironic coolness finally play out to an unsatisfying end is to siwng the other way and try to be all self-actualizing and emotionally honest. Quit the punk band and take up yoga.

    Instead, you can react by remembering that we’re all fucked-up animals running around doing crazy shit on an unstable ball hurtling through space around a vast atomic explosion. And thinking that we get it.

    This decidedly unironic American fundamentalism that seems to permeate everthing lately freaks me out, and it freaks me out even more that these 20-somethings aren’t leading the charge in the other direction. Screw that. One of the basic jobs of young people is to fuck things up; to be yet another force of nature ruining all our incredibly important plans.

    So when I hear people putting down irony, I think the problem is that they just aren’t trying hard enough. Yes, engage with the world and try to make a difference, but don’t take it to seriously or you’ll suffocate and you’ll make the world boring. Work hard at your randomness. Fuck up somebody’s day. Remember that you’re an ape. EE ee oO oOO AAAAA!!!

  3. I think a lot of people confound “irony” and “jadedness”. Sounds to me like the guy who wrote that is a victim of this problem. Jadedness could be argued to be anathema to love, since it implies a certain amount of closed-off-ness. If nothing else, jadedness = major baggage in the relationship department. Irony, on the other hand, implies for me a certain agility with abstract thought, an ability to take the long view on things, and a sense of humour — all of which are important qualities if you want to be a well-rounded individual and potential love mate.

  4. I think a lot of people confound “irony” and “jadedness”. Sounds to me like the guy who wrote that is a victim of this problem. Jadedness could be argued to be anathema to love, since it implies a certain amount of closed-off-ness. If nothing else, jadedness = major baggage in the relationship department. Irony, on the other hand, implies for me a certain agility with abstract thought, an ability to take the long view on things, and a sense of humour — all of which are important qualities if you want to be a well-rounded individual and potential love mate.

  5. Yeah – I’m a big fan of irony, and much like Day, I run screaming for the hills at emotional earnestness. I also think it is perhaps a defining difference between the Canadian and American experience. Canada’s self-definition appears wholly wrapped up within irony to me – the definition by opposition, whereas American self-definition is almost comically earnest. Perhaps because American self-identity is so wrapped up in Jingoism and bluster, which simply cannot be ironic. One of the notes I read in Souvenir of Canada while flipping through it was the sudden appearance of a distinct Canadian-ness (vis à vis American-ness) in Canada in the last 20-30 years. Coupland didn’t really seem to have a reason, only a note to celebrate it. I wonder if this distinctness arises with pop-culture post-modernity and the embrace of irony?

    (this is something along the lines of what I was originally going to write)

  6. Yeah – I’m a big fan of irony, and much like Day, I run screaming for the hills at emotional earnestness. I also think it is perhaps a defining difference between the Canadian and American experience. Canada’s self-definition appears wholly wrapped up within irony to me – the definition by opposition, whereas American self-definition is almost comically earnest. Perhaps because American self-identity is so wrapped up in Jingoism and bluster, which simply cannot be ironic. One of the notes I read in Souvenir of Canada while flipping through it was the sudden appearance of a distinct Canadian-ness (vis à vis American-ness) in Canada in the last 20-30 years. Coupland didn’t really seem to have a reason, only a note to celebrate it. I wonder if this distinctness arises with pop-culture post-modernity and the embrace of irony?

    (this is something along the lines of what I was originally going to write)

  7. A great book on what “Canadian” is “Lost in North America” by John Maclaughlan Gray. I definitely recommend it.

    On a slighly different note, I recently heard that they have no word for “identity”. The closest word they have means “similarity”. Wow. I have lots of Japanese students, and they’re really interesting and surprising.

    What I’ve learned about many Japanese people is that they love absurdity. Which totally makes sense if you don’t view behavior as an expression of your inner “identity”.

    They’re whole sense of humor and much of their art is based on absurdity. The appear to be really earnest sometimes, but if you remember they think of identity differently than we do, and that they don’t see as direct a connection between appearance/behavior with self, you can catch them laughing at themselves.

    Combine this with a cultural fixation on what happens to things when they get too big or complex (seen any Japanese movies lately?), and you get some pretty entertaining people (in the what-if-aliens-were-watching-us kind of way).

  8. A great book on what “Canadian” is “Lost in North America” by John Maclaughlan Gray. I definitely recommend it.

    On a slighly different note, I recently heard that they have no word for “identity”. The closest word they have means “similarity”. Wow. I have lots of Japanese students, and they’re really interesting and surprising.

    What I’ve learned about many Japanese people is that they love absurdity. Which totally makes sense if you don’t view behavior as an expression of your inner “identity”.

    They’re whole sense of humor and much of their art is based on absurdity. The appear to be really earnest sometimes, but if you remember they think of identity differently than we do, and that they don’t see as direct a connection between appearance/behavior with self, you can catch them laughing at themselves.

    Combine this with a cultural fixation on what happens to things when they get too big or complex (seen any Japanese movies lately?), and you get some pretty entertaining people (in the what-if-aliens-were-watching-us kind of way).

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