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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Irony Sucks .. Not! Or Does It? 

Why I Love Irony

I love to be ironic. I love, as Kurt Vonnegut once pointed out, that we humans are so intelligent that we can deduce -- often with no more clues than a tone of voice or slight context -- when someone means the precise opposite of what s/he says.

Irony provides an extra layer of thought between the listener and meaning. When you have to decode my actual meaning, your mental circuits get an extra workout, which is good for the collective health of the hive mind.

People tend to be funnier when they're being ironic. The idiocy of the statement itself becomes the joke, as does the reality that some people take it seriously. The ironic person also gets to feel extra smug if the listener doesn't catch on right away; there's a hint of insult thrown into the exchange -- but a fleeting hint, which helps lighten the mood of many discourses.

Irony gives the speaker a chance to practice his/her deadpan, to inject an additional moment of humor and an extra coating of cynicism to the exchange. We understand irony best by understanding the people around us; and so the use of irony facilitates this understanding by giving us practice.

Pic from GlarkWare, where you can get it on a t-shirt.

Why I Hate Irony

Irony is acerbic, sour, and biting. Ironic people are never satisfied with the truth itself; they feel the need to lacquer everything with extra jerk sauce. The use of irony is endemic of a language unable to speak with mere words.

A society which can never speak truthfully is a society in danger of losing its true identity. We wear the mask so long, we forget who we are. Relationships are subject to immolation, as Tom Tomorrow pointed out. (Image via this academic essay on irony.)

Irony is an excuse for smarminess. By now we're all Far Too Cool To Say What We Really Think™. The prevalence of irony is a badge of honor for the hiperati, the suave and sophisticated who seek to direct the linguistic patterns of the moron lesser 85%.

Irony -- and its cousins sarcasm and "just kidding" -- are leeches on the lifeblood of honest discourse. The more ironic we become as a society, the less chance we have of truly bridging gaps of history, race, culture, community, and ideology.


The video for the Public Enemy / Moby track MKLVFKWR is really good. Watch it!

Today I'm listening to: BassDrive!