Conservative Presidents Always Tell the Truth (A Guide to Irony)

Word o' da month:

Courtesy of Guardian Unlimited, IRONY is nicely and humorously (if perhaps mostly unironically) explained by Zoe Williams, who aptly notes that one form of irony "states the lie in order to expose the lie," meaning that irony is "a route to truth." The Wikipedia guide to irony ain't too shabby neither. (Note to self: Double-negative sentence constructions are not necessarily ironic, even when intentional). Don't expect a simple "Synonymous with dry, wry, sardonic, ironical, or humorously sarcastic and mocking" definition. Oh no. This is the real deal. It goes for the juggling jugulars of all those that have maligned and misunderstood the true word.

And after you've read all of that, you'll probably want to go back to using "ironic" in the same way you always have, because, heck, the true in-depth definitions of irony are bloody tedious and confusing -- or at least near-impossible to juggle accurately within the personal lexicon of everyday parlance. For instance, if people don't say "irony" (because 98% of people are using it incorrectly) then they'll have to say something like "cynically humorous" or "an inauthentic statement meant for sarcastic effect" or "intrinsically and hyperbolically hypocritical or paradoxical" or "a form of cosmically post-modern cosmic irony" or "negatively-serendipitous and incongruously coincidental compared to what one might expect" instead -- all of which are mighty cumbersome.

So forget irony.... just so long as people use the word "literally" correctly, I'm happy. Because that's a misused word that really drives me soup-to-nuts. Literally. (Well, maybe not literally; but it's more irritating than listening to a Chipmunks musical version of "Mein Kampf.")


Key quotes from Zoe Williams' 2003 Guardian article, "The Final Irony," linked above:

In regards to the so-called "ironic" viewpoint of most lad mags, much of reality TV, celeb gossip rags, and the like: "[They're saying] 'I'm not saying what you think I'm saying, but I'm not saying its opposite, either. In fact, I'm not saying anything at all. But I get to keep the tits.' ... So, we're not the first age to use irony (as some insist), but we are the first to use it in this vacuous, agenda-free and often highly amusing way." On the other hand, it's not all fun and games, as Williams goes on to note that in the more traditional sense of the word, "America having funded al-Qaida is ironic; America raining bombs and peanut butter on Afghanistan is ironic." Ouch. Those Pommy Brits know how to rub it in....


(For pointing out an important typo in this post, shout-outs go to Zennist.)