Skip to main content

The continuing attack on irony

An unseen woman singing and bending down with the microphone. The background is red lights with shadows, and the words "Alanis", "Morissette" and "Ironic" are written in white cursive letters at the bottom half of the image.

Irony has been out of fashion in some quarters since 9/11/2001.  Later in that awful September, TIME published an essay by Roger Rosenblatt that began, "The one good thing that could come from this horror: it could spell the end of the age of irony."

Yet irony has hung in there, as have critiques thereof. Christy Wampole has written the latest such attack, THE OTHER SERIOUS.

She titles it that because in her view the problem with her contemporaries -- me and you, dear reader -- is not just that we over-use irony as a literary device but that irony is the default mode we adopt when we are being "serious." She wants a "recalibration" of what it means to be serious.

She also, like so many writers before her, doesn't quite understand what the kids today are up to. "As a Gen-Xer, I wonder how it must be to grow up in this environment today. What does it feel like to be in high school, for example, where your life is constantly available for comment online?...Can you ever say how you really feel, using your own name?"

The reviews satisfy my curiosity about this. There will be a lot of rain on a lot of wedding days before I read this book.

By the way, as to this infamous Alanis Morissette lyrics: yes the "rain on your wedding day" thing is a misfire. Something isn't ironic just because it is inconvenient. But ... I love the phrase "who would've thought? it figgers." The conjunction of those two reactions to the same event is irony.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…