November 18, 2012

"Do you surround yourself with things you really like or things you like only because they are absurd?"

"Listen to your own speech. Ask yourself: Do I communicate primarily through inside jokes and pop culture references?" 
What percentage of my speech is meaningful? How much hyperbolic language do I use? Do I feign indifference? Look at your clothes. What parts of your wardrobe could be described as costume-like, derivative or reminiscent of some specific style archetype (the secretary, the hobo, the flapper, yourself as a child)? In other words, do your clothes refer to something else or only to themselves? Do you attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or ugly? In other words, is your style an anti-style?

55 comments:

Lem said...

I dont know what the fuck these people are talking about.

McTriumph said...

I costume myself the way I learned to dress in the late 50s. Ivy league, collegiate, preppy,etc., the name constantly changes over time, but it's the same style. It's American and timeless, about every decade and a half it comes back into fashion.

McTriumph said...

Oh! Professor are you going to post one of your famous "Cafe" post so I can go to bed?

YoungHegelian said...

Ah, yes, but irony means never having to say "This is what I believe in.." and actually, you know, having the brains & courage to defend it, often at some risk to oneself.

Defending a philosophical position is the exact opposite of defending a position in a real battle. In a real battle, the defense has the advantage. In a philosophical dispute, offense is always easier than defense.

Danno said...

My only thought on the linked article was that Professor Wampole doth babble!

n.n said...

I am authentic in word, action, and dress. I recognize the similarity of people who surround me. There are copycats, but I am unique. I reject the fanatics, rebels with a cause and without a clue.

Lem said...

What will future generations make of this rampant sarcasm and unapologetic cultivation of silliness? Will we be satisfied to leave an archive filled with video clips of people doing stupid things? Is an ironic legacy even a legacy at all?

Why all the Family Guy hate ;)

McTriumph said...

Evidently professor Wampole is a confessed shitty gift giver, she describes it a ironic, but it's shitty. Glad I don't run with her.

Lem said...

People may choose to continue hiding behind the ironic mantle, but this choice equals a surrender to commercial and political entities more than happy to act as parents for a self-infantilizing citizenry.

Whodathunkit... The Daily Show is a corporate puppet.

Lem said...

This article is high on caffeine.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Life's too short to live ironically.

That is why leftists have no lives.

Also why they think babies are not alive...because leftists themselves are not truly alive.

Chip S. said...

For many Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s — members of Generation Y, or Millennials — particularly middle-class Caucasians, irony is the primary mode with which daily life is dealt.

I had no idea.

Methadras said...

Leftards ever seeking hypocrisy and irony as a meaning to their lives and upon discovering it are fanatical in their exposure of it. While not realizing that they are truly the inside joke.

Lem said...

Loved the article.

Like a CNN debate button... I counted more nods than shakes.

wouldn't you know it... just my luck when I start getting the hang of negativity... it gets exposed as vapid, empty and unproductive... bad... but not Michael Jackson Bad... bad as in... i dont know... My Hart Will Go On?

How could the highest grossing film of all time have this for a theme song?

Irony.

YoungHegelian said...

@Lem,

"My Hart will go on"?

Wasn't that the theme for the movie "The Deer Hunter"?

I know, goddamn auto-correct.

Lem said...

Wasn't that the theme for the movie "The Deer Hunter"?

Oh thats devilishly...

wait.

My mother says I shouldn't be praising you.

Lem said...

Hey, the Deer Hunter theme is just beautiful... seriously.

at least I find it beautiful.

Lem said...

On Drudge right now...

CHRISTIE CLOWNS ON 'SNL' AS RESIDENTS SUFFER

lets get the bastard.

Foobarista said...

Nerdy. The fact that I'm a lead nerd in a nerdy company means I'm being, er, freethinking and original.

Irony is overrated.

Chip Ahoy said...

I dress as commonly as possible within the situation so that I in no way stand out. The idea is to blend in so well as to become the perfect camouflage, to appear so common as to become the ideal for commonness, to aim for the perfect "C" and do so well at that I get an "A" in it, the effort of attaining commonness.

But I'm distracted by really good ties. Like John Boehner wears. They're colorful. I did that at the FED and did stick out sort of but that's because everyone else wore dull ties. Really dull. Purposefully dull. Then I cam along and woohoo.

And I refuse to wear athletic shoes when not actually doing something athletic like ordinary walking which takes leather shoes. I deplored the women downtown who switched to athletic shoes especially when they switched in the office to do any walking downtown. It annoyed me and I believe they should have suffered.

And I prefer my hair to be a mess.

And I avoid shirts with cuffs that you have to fold and then thread cufflinks through four tiny holes. Two sleeves, that's eight tiny holes.

And never any trucking type caps. Those are disgusting. And no hatbackwards douchesackery as this. My British acquaintances think the American phrase "cap your ass" is hilarious.

fivewheels said...

How did I know, when I saw that it was written by a woman, that it would eventually turn into "I" do this and "My" life is like that and this is how the topic affects "Me".

Hoping a young female might write about something other than herself is like the sitcom standby of telling the know-it-all character "I bet you can't be silent for 10 seconds." You know it won't happen.

tim maguire said...

Because of its length, i started skimming after a while, but as far as i could tell, prof wampole skips over something pretty important--the internet.

During previous generations, kids could have things just for the kids, which the squares didn't get, didn't often even know about. It took years for alternative culture to bubble to the surface, giving the early adoptors plenty of time to enjoy their edginess before the edge moved away.

But internet has killed the counterculture. What is alternative today can be mainstream literally tomorrow. As George Burns once commented about comedy in the TV age, you can go through a lifetime of material in a few months.

You can't have the Beats anymore and if you want to be alternative, you have to hide in plain sight. Coming up with new styles every week is impossible, so what the kids are left with is attitude--the ever malleable attitude that ascribes new meaning to old things, saving them from the impossibility of relentlessly developing a new culture every time the squares catch up.

edutcher said...

The old, "We're several people - who we really are, how we see ourselves...", etc.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Yeah, like I care enough to feign indifference.

Oh, wait...

crap.

yashu said...

I think this article brings up some issues that actually are pretty profound (or superficially profound, or profoundly superficial), but I'm too sleepy even in my insomnia to tackle them right now.

Maybe tomorrow.

Lots of thing to say (to compare and distinguish from). E.g. German Romanticism, ahoy.

But for now, let me just ask this: are those ironic hipsters also ironic about Obama?

Lena Dunham's ironic, whimsical, humorous political ad-- at the end of the day, did her irony (deployed in a pro-Obama ad) extend to Obama himself?

Yeah, don't think so. And if not, this "irony" (even on its own terms, as irony) is a pansy-ass sorry excuse for irony.

Dunham's pro-Obama starstruck girl-crush dreaminess, for all its ironic trappings, was intended to be (at least appear to be) sincere. Sincere at heart. It's a universal irony only in appearance. It doesn't have the seriousness of universal skepticism, a related but different mode. A serious philosophical mode.

No, this is an irony that allows smug hipsters to evade whatever they don't want to face or acknowledge, without confronting difficult or wrenching questions, that allows them to trivialize and ridicule others' seriousness. (E.g.: Benghazi.) But it's not an irony that affects or challenges the actual POLITICAL SYSTEM IN POWER. It's not an irony that affects or challenges their own ideological pets and preconceptions. In other words: it's an irony with no real BITE at all. It's an irony that isn't dangerous at all. Because it holds no risk to the ironizers, which is what real risk-taking and courage and rebellion is all about: challenging what is or has been dearest to YOU. On the contrary, it's an irony that aids, abets, supports, and reassuringly reinforces the MAN, the POWER, the dominant IDEOLOGY, and their own pet idealistic simplistic preconceptions of how the world works. What their professors tell them, what their politicians tell them, what their TV programs tell them.

Do they ironize "women in binders"? Do they ironize "war on women"? Do they ironize "Big Bird"?

No. That is a surface irony at the service of political/ partisan ends which they do not doubt, challenge, question.

No. These are superficially "ironic" memes that are not ironic in substance, but are faithfully deployed in service to a campaign whose idiotically transparent and cynical stratagems are not subjected to doubt, interrogation, skepticism by the ironizers.

There are ironists I respect (just as there are nihilists I respect), because they're self-aware about their own irony or nihiism.

These "ironists" are just dupes. They're totally ironic about many things, yeah. But their irony serves as an intellectual shield-- no, an intellectual blanket, or blanky (like an infant's comfort blanky), which doesn't challenge dogma but only allows them to ridicule anything that might challenge the dogma they don't want to question.

The guys who do South Park: those are ironists I respect.

The hipster ironists who watch and cheer Jon Stewart and Bill Maher: most of them are dupes, marks, and suckers. As cocooned in their own way as the Christian fundamentalists they love to mock.

yashu said...

Ironic hipsters who would cheer a university administration-- the REGIME, the bureaucrats, the MAN-- when they preemptively bar a gadfly/ provocateur like Ann Coulter from speaking?

Because she might hurt some people's feelings, or contravene liberal dogma, and that would be beyond the pale?

That's "irony"?

Astro said...

Irony isn't what it used to be.

Pogo said...

Flat, funk, and ironic is no way to go through life, son.

Pogo said...

I have a small collection of figurines from the Chinese Cultural Revolution circa the 1960-70s. (like these)

I struggle with the idea of actually owning them, however, as they seem akin to Nazi memorabilia.

They are horrible things, really, fascinating in what they represent: mass murder.

Am I ironic? I dunno.
But I no longer display them.

Bob Ellison said...

Excellent essay. It's not just a hipster problem. I have to kick myself to keep from citing Broadway songs whenever someone says something like "what a beautiful morning!"

But if I could strip all allusions, puns, and similar dalliances from my speech and writing, I might have nothing left.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The kids are all right.

Bob Ellison said...

Pogo, I know what you mean. Soviet-era stuff can be fun, too, even though it represents something awful.

I think it's less of a sin to collect and appreciate irony than to bathe in it. I have an antique sign that says "Laughlin Fountain Pen - The Kind That's Advertised."

Joe Schmoe said...

Once again the NYT conflates a NY issue over the country at large. A French professor at a NYC college will undoubtedly be exposed to more hipsters than the average American. NYC is the world capital for hipsters. It's like Mecca to them.

I lecture part-time at a large state university, and overwhelmingly the kids dress quite normal. They act pretty much how I acted as a college student 20 years ago. There are some hipsters on campus, but they are a small minority. They must be liberal arts majors as I almost never see them in STEM-type courses.

Lem said...

Because of its length, i started skimming after a while, but as far as i could tell, prof wampole skips over something pretty important--the internet.

She didn't... here are the pertinent quotes.

Life in the Internet age has undoubtedly helped a certain ironic sensibility to flourish. An ethos can be disseminated quickly and widely through this medium. Our incapacity to deal with the things at hand is evident in our use of, and increasing reliance on, digital technology. Prioritizing what is remote over what is immediate, the virtual over the actual, we are absorbed in the public and private sphere by the little devices that take us elsewhere.

Furthermore, the nostalgia cycles have become so short that we even try to inject the present moment with sentimentality, for example, by using certain digital filters to “pre-wash” photos with an aura of historicity. Nostalgia needs time. One cannot accelerate meaningful remembrance.

While we have gained some skill sets (multitasking, technological savvy), other skills have suffered: the art of conversation, the art of looking at people, the art of being seen, the art of being present. Our conduct is no longer governed by subtlety, finesse, grace and attention, all qualities more esteemed in earlier decades. Inwardness and narcissism now hold sway.

Joe Schmoe said...

Oops, she teaches at Princeton. My mistake. Who knew there were so many hipsters at Princeton?

Joe Schmoe said...

The one area I can see where college kids are different is how technology provides constant means for escapism. If they want to talk, they text. They watch movies and on-demand programming anywhere they want if they have tablets or smartphones. Earbuds are constantly sprouting out their ears, with music always playing. They play video games online for hours and hours with people they've never met.

This constant access to escapism encourages a way of life that is rich on fantasy but short on realism. There's nothing ironic about that.

phx said...

That was a very impressive article for me. Great link. Good strong ideas.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

I've always remembered a great line someone once wrote about a person they had seen on the street:

"He was wearing the standard garb of the non-conformist."

Ha. And so true.

Lem said...

But if I could strip all allusions, puns, and similar dalliances from my speech and writing, I might have nothing left.

Just do like I do and quote the bible... its kryptonite.

D'oh...

I will never surrender my references... they are going to have to pry them from my cold dead VHS collection...

D'oh.

Banshee said...

There's nothing wrong with allusion, as such. A tiny bit of spice adds flavor. A whole lot, used well, can also be tasty. But they have to be meaningful allusions, used to make it easier to communicate and not harder. You have to be sharing with others, not smug.

However, I've been working on medieval Bible commentary, which largely consists of showing the connections between various Bible passages, and then pointing out the moral consequences for the reader. You don't get much less ironic than that, even though it's all quotes all the time.

David said...

So no more "Mad Men" either, I guess.

The business suit? Is that ironic?

Mildly preppy, with no logos, pastels and straw hats (more or less my style)? Is that hipster-ironic?

It's so hard to know. When will NYT tell me? Why are they telling all these other people? How can any of us be hip if we read it in the NYT?

m11_9 said...

If they were really ironic politically, they would proudly wear Romney-Ryan t shirts in Williamsburg.

Or perhaps the ultimate would be the day Urban Outfitters orders a re-print of Alan Keyes for Senate t-shirts. That would be Obama-ironic.

phx said...

So no more "Mad Men" either, I guess.

I don't see anything ironic or hipster to Mad Men.

Lem said...

But they have to be meaningful allusions, used to make it easier to communicate and not harder. You have to be sharing with others, not smug.

I was talking about that yesterday... I said something about sharing is consideration and how a finite amount of resources can best be exploited... maybe the word exploitation has fallen into disrepute... but it is our choices that ultimately define our condition.

Quayle said...

Something about the responsibility of choosing a personal, meaningful gift for a friend feels too intimate, too momentous. I somehow cannot bear the thought of a friend disliking a gift I’d chosen with sincerity.

Living life by reacting how one presupposes others will react is a good recipe for aimless vacuousness of soul and a form of nervous insanity.

The only sold ground on which a person can stand is on their motives and desire which is closely related to hope.

One will always feel solid by checking and having proper motives, and understanding the desire of what they hope will happen and be.

All else, particularly a prior reactive living based upon what you perceive others will say or do in reaction to you, is chasing feathers in a wind storm.

Balfegor said...

Re: Ellison:

Excellent essay. It's not just a hipster problem. I have to kick myself to keep from citing Broadway songs whenever someone says something like "what a beautiful morning!"

That's not really equivalent to the hipster problem, though -- the hipster problem is ironic distance from the things being referenced. Peppering one's speech with references is a common feature of all literate cultures -- look at the Chinese, for example. It's just that in modern America, the references have moved on from the Bible, Shakespeare, and old poetry, to modern media. Movies, songs, whatnot.

Those references aren't necessarily ironic. Sometimes one uses the reference just out of a sense of play (most common, I think), or because it expresses what you want to express, better than you can, whether because of the words themselves or because of the context behind those words.

AF said...

Speaking of Twinkies . . .

phx said...

Well put Quayle.

Mitch H. said...

I don't see anything ironic or hipster to Mad Men.

Mad Men is weaponized dramatic irony. It is the cultural equivalent of that moment in the horror movie when you shout out at the screen to the bottle-blonde, "don't open that door!" Don't smoke, don't drink at work, don't knock up/marry your secretary. Etc, etc.

I dress a little bit like a hipster douchebag - hawaiian shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes - but I don't mean anything by it - I'm just lazy and disinterested in impressing anyone anymore.

Simon Kenton said...

I tried to read the article, really I did. I got to"For many Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s — members of Generation Y, or Millennials — particularly middle-class Caucasians, irony is the primary mode with which daily life is dealt. " With which daily life is dealt? This phrase made me wish, in a codependent, helpful sort of way, I could give the writer a nice dose of psyllium husks for her prose. God! With which daily life is dealt? Run a little soluble and insoluble fiber through her brain, and let the words pour out. No more costive constructions, just a nicely vented steamy coil of clarity. Then I went down to the range and set up an A36 target. That's the one with the 10 "ring" a spot 0.6mm in diameter. You cannot resolve it with the naked eye. Even with a scope whose optics are first-rate you can scarcely resolve it. Shot a 98 - missed that spot by > 3mm twice in 10 shots. Good, though I've (rarely) bettered that score. And when I was done, murmured "Thus I refute Berkeley."

yashu said...

(What was I going on about up there? Someone, keep me from commenting when I'm drunk.)

phx said...

lol yashu! have a toke next time.

yashu said...

Good advice, phx, will do.

phx said...

But it's not an irony that affects or challenges the actual POLITICAL SYSTEM IN POWER. It's not an irony that affects or challenges their own ideological pets and preconceptions. In other words: it's an irony with no real BITE at all. It's an irony that isn't dangerous at all. Because it holds no risk to the ironizers, which is what real risk-taking and courage and rebellion is all about: challenging what is or has been dearest to YOU.

I kind of like that tho. I might edit that last phrase to "challenge yourself, challenge YOU."

I personally believe the most subversive act IS to challenge yourself.

Sam L. said...

I do what I can.