465. Increase (VI)
I dislike irony. The term itself could be taken to be saying the opposite of what you mean, another way to say that the ironist is a liar. Indeed, if you go back to its ancient Greek roots then you find that it derives from eiron—a dissembler. So to ironise is to lie. I think irony itself is decadent; and not only because in the 1990s it became standard to be ironic in popular culture, while in the smart lit-set David Foster Wallace became an apostle for irony; a dark apostle who ended up, like the great ironist Socrates, dead by his own hand. Another way for me to say to you that ironists are unhappy people.
Ironists are unhappy people, not least because they have mastered a way to lie that makes them feel smug and sophisticated as they do it—makes them feel “smart”, as all mid-90s ironists seemed to feel smart. Socrates advocated irony—lies—as a way of life, to philosophise was to assume ignorance and then ask slightly arch questions to stallholders and soldiers: “Pray, fellow citizen, what doth thou do with this crate of apples this fine day?” the philosopher would say, eyebrows raised and eyes widened in mock-astonishment. “I’m selling apples. What do you think it looks like, Socrates?” “Indeed; and, pray tell, for why doth thou sell these ‘apples’ today?” (Cue 2,300 years of earnest—ironic—questions to which no adequate answers have appeared, the answers being in the actions themselves).
Contemporary Platonists join pop-cult ironists and, in particular, progressive leftists in ironic disdain for the masses. Their every question is somewhat arch, to be ironic about each and every topic is to be superior to the masses. “John here is very interested, please tell me if I have this right, in what he calls Human Biological Diversity; and what, my dear fellow, could that be? I simply cannot imagine.”
As with ordinary liars, ironists never feel anything—and this makes them miserable people; nor do they have any sincerity or authenticity. Irony is vanity, an actual commitment to establish anything about reality is replaced by a clever façade; the reassurance that you will never be caught out because you never really made a commitment. Homosexuals are masterful at irony because it helps them deal with a world that is not made for people like them, a world that despises them: “But then, darling, Shelly went and did the most outrageous thing; she had two babies, bless her. I mean, really.” “What a scream. Who could imagine a girl doing a thing like that, having babies—just like a zoological specimen or something.” “The only question, darlings, is who used the turkey baster on her?”
Irony is sometimes taken to be cynicism, and yet is not true cynicism—real cynicism is actually a protest at insufficient authenticity. Irony can be deployed against authenticity; as with Socrates, the ironist will cast doubt even on authentic activities: “Why do you go to the gym? You can’t even tell me what ‘health’ is. And now you want me to pick up those big weights?” So the ironist is closely allied to the virtue-signaller, the snob, and the pretentious person. Irony makes you look clever and sceptical without any real effort. “Indeed?”
Nietzsche thought much the same, and he held that Socrates developed an ironic sensibility as a crutch to deal with his ugliness—his unfitness to live. He developed a slightly clever coping strategy with which to navigate existence—and then poisoned everyone with irony, with lies, for thousands of years. Hence the contemporary virtue-signaller likes to use irony to play dumb. “Europeans are vanishing: it’s the Great Replacement.” “But please, my dear fellow, what is this ‘European’ you speak of? I would delight in your explication…is he perhaps…a biped without feathers? Haw, Haw, Haw.” No, I am happy to point out ironies—and occasionally indulge in one—but to be a full-time ironist is to be a full-time liar.