How to Live Without Irony

As you can tell from my first post, I’m deeply suspicious of irony, and so I loved Christy Wampole’s courageously non-ironic article for NYT’s Opinionator. “Ironic living is a first-world problem,” she writes.  “For the relatively well educated and financially secure, irony functions as a kind of credit card you never have to pay back. In other words, the hipster can frivolously invest in sham social capital without ever paying back one sincere dime. He doesn’t own anything he possesses.” The solution, she quotes a friend, is that “Wherever the real imposes itself, it tends to dissipate the fogs of irony.”  Read the whole thing and let me know if you agree.

3 thoughts on “How to Live Without Irony”

  1. I know so many people like this that it genuinely hurts to read about it. Thanks for the article link — The author does a great job articulating a phenomenon that I have witnessed for a large portion of my life and continue to witness among extended and step family. I have little doubt that this influenced my own search for truth, beauty, and goodness. I just find “ironic living” to be an unbearable existance.

  2. I was struck that she didn’t pick up on the military as a bastion of non-irony. The play A Few Good Men in a sense is about the confrontation between the military and irony and the passage of the main character, Lt. Caffe, from inorny to seriousness.

    Also there is something inherently risible about a world weary and ironic rich kid in his early 20s.

  3. LT-

    I think you’re right that the reaction against irony can actually be a motivation towards seeking the opposite. I have to admit, however, that I can see the attraction of an ironic lifestyle as well as the repulsion. The essence of being cool seems to be aloofness, and who doesn’t want to be cool? At least at some point.


    Adding the military to the list of non-ironic exemplars makes a lot of sense. You can’t dedicate yourself to any kind o an ideal and remain ironic.

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