Tuesday, November 25

All Right, Jamesy. Let Me Up, I'm Fuckin' Serious This Time.

Andy Newman, "Irony is Dead. Again. Yeah, Right." November 23

NEVER again:
Its ill health was noted by, among others, no less an ironist than Joan Didion, the nation’s poet laureate of disillusion. The week after the election, in a talk at the New York Public Library, Ms. Didion lamented that the United States in the era of Barack Obama had become an “irony-free zone,” a vast Kool-Aid tank where “naïveté, translated into ‘hope,’ was now in” and where “innocence, even when it looked like ignorance, was now prized.”

Look, here's the thing: I'm from the Midwest. It simply did not occur to me to seek out Joan Didion's take on the election. Or Tina Brown's. Or George Plimpton's. In fact it didn't even occur to me to wonder if the election had brought Plimpton back to life for one last bon mot and Grey Goose martini, or to bother figuring out who's a part of the New York literati scene this century. That's how long ago my Poor Wife's subscription to Vanity Fair ran out, and how small a shit I give about it.

I mean, is someone actively preventing Joan Didion from being ironic in public these days? Does she mostly hang out with 18-to-20-year-old Obama fans? She got to write about the election in VF and lecture about it at the New York Public Library. What fucking more resuscitation does poor ol' Irony need? Maybe the woman should blog.

Oh, wait, here comes Conservative Humorist P.J. O'Rourke to give Dame Irony the Kiss of Life. Really, really side-splittingly funny Life:
But are ironic sensibilities like Ms. Didion’s — the detachment of mind, the appreciation of the folly of taking things at face value — really disappearing?

Not according to the conservative humorist P. J. O’Rourke, who reported from his New Hampshire office on Wednesday that he was finishing a piece for The Weekly Standard with the working title, “Is It Too Soon to Start Talking About the Failed Obama Presidency Just Because He Isn’t President Yet?”

Zing! Y'know, I believe at this point we might safely conclude that Irony is doing fine, but some of her hangers-on got some bad salmon paté. 

Look, when you reach middle-age, let alone roar past it, it's fine to pile on the comic infirmities, but it's unseemly to pretend you've forgotten the last thirty years, at least so long as you still want to make public pronouncements. There were/are irritating, humorless twits who supported Obama, just as there were Irritating Twits for Ron Paul, Irritating Twits for Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, and Vexatious Fops for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, probably. Those of us of an historical bent might cast our eyes all the way back to 2000 C.E., when the contentious selection of George W. Bush, and the launch of the most ideologically-cracked administration in the history of the Republic (an ungracious Inaugural, the transparently ginned-up Clinton Scandals Redux, Dick Cheney's secret meetings with the real US government) resulted in a blistering 17% negative rating for Mr. Bush. Maybe there's such a thing as a honeymoon. Maybe Irony just needs to practice her aim a little. Or stop behaving like a whining seven-year-old with a full bladder staring at the candy shelves in the supermarket check-out line. The Droning Obama Gloriously Non-Sectarian Cloistered Monk Chorus was last fucking winter; since then he's dropped in the polls, fallen behind John McCain, started sounding like a Democrat, and won in a landslide. As we emerge from the Worst Presidency in History By A Factor of Two At Least (there's a fertile Irony field for you, Mr. O'Rourke) it's hardly surprising that a sizable chunk of the public is permitting itself some small degree of hope despite the bleak news on every possible front involving Presidential decisions of the past eight years (got a shovel, P.J.?).  

(Same with this phony Oh my God the Change Candidate is appointing former Clintonites routine. For fuck's sake, who do you expect him to appoint--Joe the Fucking Unlicensed Plumber? He's a Centrist Democrat and he's appointing Centrist Democrats. Too bad if he didn't unilaterally disarm. And same for the "Look, no phony quotas" routine. The reason Barack Obama can appoint people without a seeming, or obvious, regard for complexion, gender, or facial hair is that we have given minorities a leg up now for a generation. This is not an excuse to stop trying to rectify 400 years of intentional harm.)

Go ahead and hate Obama, if you wish, but quit fucking hating him by proxy; that was what the election was for. Mindless idiocy, wholly-unsupportable optimism, and ill-informed personal choices are going to be with us always. That is, in fact, the bulk of the recipe for the last thirty years of Republican dominance. Treat them the same, or avoid politics, but, as they say in baseball, act like you fucking been there before, huh?

7 comments:

coriolis said...

I stopped reading the quoted article when I reached the un-ironic "conservative humorist P. J. O’Rourke".
"...Vexatious Fops for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney..." Do you see, P. J.? This is how humor is done.

James Stripes said...

Take the middle out of fire truck a few more times and see if I don't become one of your nonsubscribers! As Reagan said, when he was ripping holes in the economic safety net, "Make my day."

Ms. Didion lamented that the United States in the era of Barack Obama had become an “irony-free zone,” a vast Kool-Aid tank where “naïveté, translated into ‘hope,’ was now in” and where “innocence, even when it looked like ignorance, was now prized.”

If Didion is not being ironic in this effort to collapse The One into Jim Jones, Ken Kesey, and the anti-intellectualist tradition that has always already prized ignorance over all else in American politics, then I need to start reading Vanity Fair or at least one of those books of hers that has been keeping the dust in my office midway between the ceiling and the floor.

Julia said...

I bluntly refuse to believe that anyone who ever looked at Dominick Dunne across a thanksgiving table and stuck her fork in the turkey lacks a sense of irony.

map106 said...

You guys and gals (un-PC alert) are way above my pay-grade.

culuriel said...

I was actually at the NY Public Library event, and I didn't mind Joan Didion's commment. But then, I'm cynical enough to vote for Hillary, and while I like the guy, Obamamania kind of passed me by. Joan actually didn't speak much after her initial comments. But Doghouse, for sheer event-long pretentious, Gary Willis wins the Grand Prize. Michael Tomasky and Andrew Delbanco actually had relevant things to say that showed they actually consider outside events just as important as their own thoughts about them. I did enjoy myself at this event, but I will never read the NY Review of Books now.

Anonymous said...

I wish that people I really admire and love to read and/or listen to - you, Doghouse, and Paul Krugman - hadn't allowed the initial "Look,..." to invade their prose. It's a hiccup on a par with the endless "in terms of" that has swept, forest-fire-like, through the defenseless structure of spoken English for several years now.

Li'l Innocent

Larkspur said...

At the end of the day, I remain over the moon about Doghouse's use of, like, "Look" as a type of visual flag. He is Doghouse, after all, and I find it impactfull and empowering, because a Doghouse "look" means that I sit up, take notice, and very possibly receive a treat. I don't mean to push the push the envelope envelope: I am not an innovator. See, I love Doghouse, technically by proxy, but with the heat of several dozen suns, and this post was particularly dazzling.

So I give thanks, Doghouse.