Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dead Irony

Ah yes, my generation has been accused of killing irony... yet again.

I wait with bated breath for tomorrow's NYRB publication of Joan Didion's little harangue about the matter, although I'm worried that something like this, which I assume is a little too adult for Generation Obama, might be subscription-cordoned. On the other hand, it looks like the "What Happens Now?" podcast on this page might be from the event where Didion complained that "naïveté, translated into ‘hope,’ was now in." (I'll listen to the thing later; football is on in less than an hour. Sorry.)

But anyway, I am deeply indebted to you, Joan Didion, for rattling the scales from my eyes. I never knew that voting was supposed to be ironic. (Thanks for leaving that one out, Mr. Weir, my formerly-beloved senior-year Government teacher.) Next time I'll vote Nader; that should count as ironic.

But seriously, I mean, what the hell were we (Generation Obama) supposed to do here? Vote for McCain? Not vote? Vote for Obama quietly, without fuss or, you know, volunteering and stuff?

I have more to say, but I'll wait until I can at least listen to Didion's remarks. For now, though, I want to leave you with this passage from the NYT article, which sort of speaks for itself:
A Nexis search found that the incidence of the words “irony,” “ironic” and “ironically” in major American newspapers during the two-week period beginning Nov. 6 slipped 19 percent from the same period last year.

In New York, Ms. Didion’s home city, irony has been steadily disappearing from daily newspapers for a decade, the analysis found. In those same two-week November periods from 2000 to 2008, appearances of “irony” and its cognates tumbled 56 percent. Some of the drop seems to be because of the shrinking of newspapers, but a similar Nexis search with a control word, “went,” showed a drop of only 32 percent, leaving an irony gap of 24 percentage points.

The analysis may have its flaws. For one thing, the search algorithm also, ironically, picked up phrases like “end of irony.” More significantly, no self-respecting ironist actually uses the word “ironic,” except, perhaps, ironically.
Whoa. That's deep.

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