Today's must-read is Christy Wampole's How to Live Without Irony. Every word rings true for me. A few excerpts:
The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism. The same goes for ironic living. Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public. It is flagrantly indirect, a form of subterfuge, which means etymologically to “secretly flee” (subter + fuge). Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.Excuse me while I hop on my hobby-horse for a minute and add that the flight from vulnerability and embrace of defensiveness are found not only in hipsters but in insecurely attached children as well. Gordon Neufeld, co-author of my favorite parenting book, has written:
How did this happen? It stems in part from the belief that this generation has little to offer in terms of culture, that everything has already been done, or that serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst. This kind of defensive living works as a pre-emptive surrender and takes the form of reaction rather than action.
But there’s the rub: the heart is also a place of great vulnerability. To care about someone is to set the stage for getting hurt if the caring is not reciprocated. To seek to matter to someone is to be wounded by signs of not mattering. To give ones heart away is to risk it being broken. To share the secrets of ones heart is to chance being misunderstood and abused. A child can bear only so much vulnerability. When attachments aren’t safe, the vulnerability is overwhelming. [. . .]You can read portions of Neufeld's book on Amazon. I especially recommend Chapter 7, "The Flatlining of Culture." But back to Ms. Wampole:
The flight from vulnerability involves a numbing out of vulnerable feelings, a tuning out of perceptions that lead to vulnerable feelings, and even a backing out of attachment. It is this flight from vulnerability that is at the heart of the matter with children who have problems learning and behaving. It is this flight from vulnerability that we are witnessing when we see children divesting of caring, protesting of boredom, no longer feeling shame and embarrassment, no longer experiencing felt fear.
What would it take to overcome the cultural pull of irony? Moving away from the ironic involves saying what you mean, meaning what you say and considering seriousness and forthrightness as expressive possibilities, despite the inherent risks. It means undertaking the cultivation of sincerity, humility and self-effacement, and demoting the frivolous and the kitschy on our collective scale of values. It might also consist of an honest self-inventory.Okay, I'll come clean. I have a pair of ironic chairs in my living room. Here's one of them:
Anyway, read the whole thing. Hat tip goes to husband @Campion1581 who tweeted a couple of great excerpts from the piece.
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