Skip to content

On Irony

Don’t worry, you can rest easy now.  Do you have a few easy phrases tucked away?  Do you have some bonfire keywords that paint a large canvas?  You’ll be fine.

We are living in a period of irony, the decade of irony.  As information unfolds, we protect ourselves from it.  Following all the infotrails leads you deep into the well of content forever, forgetting unity-light.  All symbols become available to you, a flooding of the unconscious that leads to a drowning.  What we have done as individuals and collectively, is to give a little distance to it.  The catch-all language of irony is what we use to provide the distance, but it comes at a cost.  Instead of diving full into philosophy, art, literature, language and love, we dip our toes in and build fragile phrase structures to represent these rooted lineages. Christ and Buddha become “spirituality,” said with a knowing and crooked head.  Repeat the keyword of spirituality out loud in a supermarket and you’ll get some generally approving nods.

The 20th century after Carl Jung was the century of connection.  Religious and artistic mythologies, deeply felt mythologies, became interconnected.  No longer are stories and rituals cultural, they are universally human and carbon-tied.  Jung and then Campbell showed us this.  So with this, we go forward with our toes, dipping.  Though each indivudual may not understand the connections that were opened up by Jung, he feels them and his body knows them.  When there is a change in the self, the self relates to the world in a new way, there is no back treading after a leap in consciousness.  This too happens to us as a collective.  We know Nietzsche without reading him, we know Picasso without seeing him, we know Coltrane without hearing him, they are in us, they did the work for us.

Now we go along toe dipping, high level toe dipping protection.  We cannot let leave of our higher selves, the selves that long for deeply felt wisdom, nor do we choose to meet deeply felt wisdom full on, with fearlessness.   Irony is rooted in fear and protection.  So we address the wisdom of the ancients with easy phrases and nods, broadly, disrespectfully.  Bodyknowing that much of the deep work has been done for us, we place it in a cutesy containers and give it a disrespectful but knowing nod.  It is knowing that is really a disguised knowing.  For what do we know about anything in 2012? Fully?  We know asides and murmors and large themes made tiny with acceptable humor.  We know tiny anecdotes.  The empty phrases that hint at larger themes leave us bored, unfulfilled, and wanting the full picture.  We want to know Nietzsche , to take him to heart, but the work required is too much and instead we give him a wink and put him on teeshirt or in a sillyfilm. Just a sullen, vague reference to him will do.  Instead of a man we make a shoebox symbol out of him. He represents something different than he is because we can’t trouble ourselves to figure him out or portray his actual work in any authentic way.

Looking at art openly and with intellect has been given up on, shoulder shrugged.  Art becomes genre-ized and large-ized. Just being interested in art is a wink at a type of person, and all the things that are associated with types.  It is too much work for us in 2012 to hold counterpoints of personality in our head.  Art has stopped becoming what it is, an exploration in a medium, to be taken in with open wonder. Art is now an entire history, a type of person. How do you reconcile Caravaggio and Kline? Don’t do it with a gift shop chuckle. Devour them separately, then love them together.

Music, our most precious vibration, has become thin lipped.  Frail white twenty somethings provide vague references to deep black blues without having done the feeling work in an open way that Jagger and Richards did, allowing them to authentically use the language and the rhythms without irony.  This is the connection work that takes time and devotion. Irony has a cold, fragile and sanitary tone to it when made musical.  Much in song now is said with a wink.  Bits of phrases, turnarounds, collected remarks, all told by unlivables who would whisper weakly if you had them in a room at midnight.

Those who dig deeply and explore in more than tweetbits and tweetlets today are largely confined to academia, and they bring their own bland brand of specialization to everything, not seeing the full round of things.  Let them run amock in the heady flourescent boxrooms.

The healer of irony will be authenticity. There will be fearless authentics who refuse to live in irony and easy content. They will be willing to take on the work. They won’t be represented by three word sloganizing. They will be comfortable in the vulnerability of not knowing, to be without a phrase when more than a phrase is needed.  This is the work of the fearless authentics, who will take out their wilted toes and dive into the wisdom waters.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *