When culture critics talk about modern irony they’re usually talking about people who have adopted being smart-ass as a lifestyle. So called hipsters tend to get called out a lot on this, though being smart-ass is and always has been part of American culture. Mark Twain was brilliant, but he was a master of smartassness. Though to his great virtue he never created his life around it. By the time most people are in their mid-twenties irony, the smart-ass brand of irony does tend to wear thin. We all engage it sometimes, but we don’t wear it like a watch. In that sense I can relate to some of this, How to Live Without Irony
The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny. The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool. He studies relentlessly, foraging for what has yet to be found by the mainstream. He is a walking citation; his clothes refer to much more than themselves. He tries to negotiate the age-old problem of individuality, not with concepts, but with material things.
He is an easy target for mockery. However, scoffing at the hipster is only a diluted form of his own affliction. He is merely a symptom and the most extreme manifestation of ironic living. 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. One need only dwell in public space, virtual or concrete, to see how pervasive this phenomenon has become. Advertising, politics, fashion, television: almost every category of contemporary reality exhibits this will to irony.
I get that or I think I do. Even though it is a cultural issue and phenomenon mostly of larger cities – New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta. Genuineness and sincerity are certainly a relief when you live in western culture where those qualities, as goofy as they can be at times, go wanting. Though she may go a bridge too far in the blanket condemnation of irony. The kind she talks about is usually in pockets of people. I’ve seen more on The New Girl and Happy Endings – where they made fun of the same ironic hipsters she is talking about, than I have in my daily life. Classic irony is indispensable. To see it and know it, is to cope with modern hypocrites like conservatives, stiff backed irreligious fundamentalists, wealthy people complaining about how hard they have it, people with almost no sense of humor who think they’re funny, repair people who swear they’ll be there by noon, catching every fu*king traffic light, paying $65 for a pair of jeans, a guy that does not know how many homes he owns…Who wants to live in a society that has decided that seeing the irony is now socially forbidden. Irony is far less bloody than going postal and it doesn’t stain your new shirt.
Ya see what I mean, @bradplumer, The number of 97-year-olds attacking people with swords in Japan is on the rise
This is a wonderful and very long article about decoding some documents from an old secret society in the 18th century, They Cracked This 250 Year-Old Code, And Found a Secret Society Inside. I already knew this, but in case anyone else missed in the white washed babble that passes for history in our high school texts,
They also frequently didn’t care about their adherents’ Christian denomination, making these orders—especially the biggest of them, Freemasonry—an implicit threat to the authority of the Catholic Church. In 1738 Pope Clement XII forbade all Catholics from joining a Masonic lodge. Others implied that the male-only groups might be hotbeds of sodomy. Not long after, rumors started that members of these orders actually worshipped the devil.
These societies were the incubators of democracy, modern science, and ecumenical religion. They elected their own leaders and drew up constitutions to govern their operations. It wasn’t an accident that Voltaire, George Washington, and Ben Franklin were all active members. And just like today’s networked radicals, much of their power was wrapped up in their ability to stay anonymous and keep their communications secret.