Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm level 2 ironic

Sarcasm is a staple of the irreverent 18-24 year old demographic diet. Sarcasm adds the flavorful zest that only saying what you don't really mean can. It's black pepper and you can't make a meal out of it. It's base, simple, and the lowest way of spicing up your dialogue. Where does the substance sustenance come into play? Sarcasm is best used to counterpoint and drop some knowledge. Typically, it's used to be different and ends up difficult.
So why do wisecrackers keep their bons mots coming at the risk of alienating others? Though they may not be aware of it, sarcasm is their means of indirectly expressing aggression toward others and insecurity about themselves. Wrapping their thoughts in a joke shields them from the vulnerability that comes with directly putting one's opinions out there. "Sarcastic people protect themselves by only letting the world see a superficial part of who they are," says Steven Stosny, a Washington, D.C.-based therapist and anger specialist. "They're very into impression management." Psychology Today
This quote accurately accesses most sarcasm. It's a disguise and a way to rebel with words. It's a way to feign individuality and separate yourself from the flock. Being different is never worth the cost of being wrong, except for amusement and insanity. If you're insane this article won't matter, unless you're struck with a lesser form of madness like love.

Popularity isn't perfect, but it usually works as a good go-by in a society where sane individuals are the majority. You can knock cliches, but hey, they exist because they're often fucking true. Have at some: "It's not what you say, it's how you say it"; "It's not what it's about, but how it goes about it"; as Archibald MacLeish wrote: "A poem should not mean, but be." These help explain the graduation of sarcasm to irony.


When it comes to style, it's easy to know the words, but not the music. It's not the notes, but the uncanny whatever between them. Comic book writer Alan Moore wrote of his own influence that too many seemed inspired to emulate the violence of his work, but too few its consequence. There's no better way to describe irony's abuse.

Standard irony plays to a particular palette. Its (ab)users are typically repetitious — another staple of bad comedy — until the humor becomes so dreadfully redundant Juno would wince. Nothing copes with angst and insecurity like slogan t-shirts, faux homosexual humor, and trucker hats. What I like to ponder is lame irony taken to the extreme.

When irony goes too far...

It starts with a group of straight males. You make phony passes at each other. Eventually you snap photos of yourselves cupping the feminine guy's crotch. Where does it end? You and your closest guy pals laughing and drinking Jager, further beating gay humor's dead horse until you're ironically gang-blowing men in the back of a tour bus and someone says, "Dude, we just went down on Bon Jovi's security guard. It's not a joke anymore."

Level 2

In order to be truly ironic, I've coined and created "level 2 irony." If you don't realize why being ordinarily ironic is not enough, you're still dabbling somewhere around Sarcasm St and Impressionable Youth Blvd. 25% of my conversations involve people parroting the word "Huh?" over and over. It's too easy and boring to believe simple things like we're all one, or we all want happiness, or we can co-exist in harmony. In a world of 6 billion I'm entirely individual, and my 52-year-old neighbor beside me may wear the same trucker hat, but I'm wearing it in the right context.

At this stage, I've become so ironic I don't even know what I mean anymore. I don't know what the words mean even after they're said. If language is our tool for expression, proper irony's purpose is conveying our inconsistencies in an equally telling and ambiguous manner, or for contrast in making points. It's alright, like any well-prepared meal, you can add about anything to your pot so long as you have the right spices and simmer long enough. Now how's this half-baked article pie of irony, incoherence, and truth? So good.

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