If you’re an ironic person, are you also a liar?

If you're an ironic person, are you also a liar?
This plant is not ironic.

I think much of my life has been a struggle between an ironic versus a sincere stance regarding the world.

On the one hand, I want things to mean what they mean, and on the other hand, I know things have layers of meaning, and I enjoy figuring out (and exploiting) those layers.

Christy Wampole, an assistant professor of French at Princeton University, wrote an essay about ironic "hipsters" for The New York Times. While I don’t agree with everything in her essay, she does make an important point about ironic posturing – it makes deception easier:

Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public. It is flagrantly indirect, a form of subterfuge, which means etymologically to "secretly flee" (subter + fuge). Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.

She identifies certain kinds of people who live without irony, and those types of people also tend to be those who live without deceiving others:

Nonironic models include very young children, elderly people, deeply religious people, people with severe mental or physical disabilities, people who have suffered, and those from economically or politically challenged places where seriousness is the governing state of mind. My friend Robert Pogue Harrison put it this way in a recent conversation: "Wherever the real imposes itself, it tends to dissipate the fogs of irony."

Observe a 4-year-old child going through her daily life. You will not find the slightest bit of irony in her behavior. She has not, so to speak, taken on the veil of irony. She likes what she likes and declares it without dissimulation. She is not particularly conscious of the scrutiny of others. She does not hide behind indirect language. The most pure nonironic models in life, however, are to be found in nature: animals and plants are exempt from irony, which exists only where the human dwells.

Read the entire essay: How to Live Without Irony, The New York Times>>

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One thought on “If you’re an ironic person, are you also a liar?

  1. If you’re looking for an example of hipster irony, consider Dave Eggers memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," which I would have enjoyed more without Egger’s habit of preemptively criticizing himself to avoid being criticized.

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