Monday, November 19, 2012

Irony in Life and War

You don’t hear me running around talking about this being ironic, or that being ironic; for I have never quite grasped what irony means, until now!
by Charlie Leck

I quietly learned, this morning, that I ought to be more ironic. It is evidently a much desired and admired trait in human beings. I don’t think I’m a very ironic person. When I say something abasing (or shitty) about myself, I almost always mean it.

There is a cultural pull right now toward irony. I don’t feel it. Well, give me a moment!... No, really, I still don’t feel it.

Evidently there is a certain charm in saying what you don’t quite mean. The cultural opposite of the ironic is, evidently, being forthright, serious and sincere.

Apparently it is quite enjoyable to make fun of a friend or acquaintance without really meaning it and making sure, all at the same time, that your friend knows that you really don’t mean it. That sounds so difficult that it gives me a headache. Rich, my South Carolinian friend, is very good at all this. Fred, a fellow in Colorado who follows this blog, also acts and speaks ironically. He is the kind of guy who might wear a t-shirt, made in China, that promotes American products and labor.

The thought of living, acting and speaking ironically, no less the actual effort, gets me very tired. I would rather just tell someone that they are a dumb-shit and simply mean it – or equally, to let someone know that I admire them like crazy and also mean it.

There are ways to dress ironically and, I am told, you can actually cook ironically, too. I wonder if you can iron ironically. (Hey! Wait! That last little bit of curiosity may have been irony!)

Finally (because my headache is growing exponentially with this essay), there are very specific types of irony – like post-modern irony. For instance, if I wrote a short story about an aged man, who had never in his life shared a romantic love with a woman, suddenly meeting an incredible, beautiful, thoughtful and very contemporary woman on a perfect day in mid-autumn, only to find out from his doctor, a day later – immediately after telling the doctor how much he loves this lady – that he has only short days yet to live because of a rampaging disease that courses through him, that would be ironic in a, sort of, post-modern manner.

I would formerly have called it sad, or tragic.

There is some irony, I think, in the current Arab revolutions, which, on the surface, appear to be one thing while, in actuality (the joke is on us), they are really about something extremely and singularly different. We saw it in Libya! We see it in Gaza! Another expensive and frightening war is on the horizon.

"The Arab Spring swells with hope," someone said ironically.

How fucking lovely! (That is irony!)

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