No smilies, no avatars, no flashing gifs. Just discuss the issues of the day, from last night's telly via football to science or philosophy.
Started by mingmong on Sep 9, 2015 11:42:47 PM
Irony, the underbelly of which is Horror

Literary critic Northrop Frye defined a kind of grand seasonal/emotional cycle that underpinned Western culture, i.e. Comedy (Spring), Romance (Summer), Tragedy (Autumn) and Irony (Winter)

Perhaps its just a standard middle-aged thing, but it seems to me that our present-day culture has got stuck in the Winter phase - Irony - which in its darker moments tends towards an obsession with the demonic, or horrific aspects of life and death. Every work of serious work art, literature and film seems to tend towards this pole these days.

According to Frye, there are two characteristic exits from the Winter state - either into Comedy (as Spring follows Winter), with the younger generation deposing a ridiculous and otiose older generation; or by going full circle on the vertical axis, as Dante did, "climbing out on the other side of the world and seeing the stars again"

mingmong - 09 Sep 2015 23:42:55 (#1 of 90)

We've tried the Comedy route repeatedly, it seems to me we keep getting bounced back into Irony. Perhaps the only other option is to try for the stars. However TF that would work.

mingmong - 09 Sep 2015 23:43:50 (#2 of 90)

Realise this is getting into the realms of High Obscurity for most, but am wondering if some people here, e.g. Wibble, Uranrising, PrimePaon might have some ideas

virgil5 - 09 Sep 2015 23:50:36 (#3 of 90)

Brando. as Kurtz in Apocalypse Now saying "the IRONY....the IRONY...." just doesn't work, though.

mingmong - 09 Sep 2015 23:51:01 (#4 of 90)

yes. an excellent example

virgil5 - 09 Sep 2015 23:55:26 (#5 of 90)

Ovid had it right: everything is changing whether you like it or not.

You can't hold on hoping it won't

mingmong - 09 Sep 2015 23:57:05 (#6 of 90)

Indeed. Sooner or later the New will come along and shake the whole thing up. We seem to have been waiting a long time though

virgil5 - 10 Sep 2015 00:01:45 (#7 of 90)

"What comes after 'Empire'?" is the question.

"History repeats itself" is really just an assumption.

mingmong - 10 Sep 2015 00:09:14 (#8 of 90)

"History repeats itself" is really just an assumption

But one which is (relatively) well borne out.

The stage of history this reminds me of is the end of the Antonine period of the Roman empire, when, after several generations of relatively stable and prosperous governance, the Roman world descended into corruption and division. This signaled the beginning of 'Late Antiquity' in which new monsters, e.g. Christianity, emerged as a mainstream social presence, and the complacent world of the classical elite lost its credibility

Bromio - 10 Sep 2015 00:13:12 (#9 of 90)

It's a tough one to escape from given how accessible the abject horror of others now is and also how much closer it has been brought to us all. Dead kids on Facebook. The poor getting poorer and the rich making Croesus look like a pauper. Job insecurity. Religions tearing each others' eyes out. Cities surrounded by razor wire and then bombed to fuck. The oceans rising. The X Factor.

How can we possibly escape from all of that? We are left with nothing but irony for succour. Everything else is a lie.

Tangent - 10 Sep 2015 00:17:46 (#10 of 90)

I am not really drawn to cyclical models. But, for me, if we accept our capture in the ironic moment, the recovery comes with the revival of a grand idealism which shapes society and culture. Comedy presupposes that idealism; while it can employ the tools of the ironists against the failed and the flawed who have not yet achieved self-realisation, it concludes with the benign triumph of those who are untouched by such tools.

foghorn - 10 Sep 2015 00:42:11 (#11 of 90)

I believe in World peace.

virgil5 - 10 Sep 2015 01:47:18 (#12 of 90)

I'm fond of the UK/US connections in comparison to the Greece/Rome connections.

Rome built a (stodgy but practical) Empire with a nagging suspicion that the Greeks had probably addressed the philosophical and aesthetic questions more passionately and with more style, but they weren't up to the job of conquering and controlling large areas of the known world.

Britain created a far flung, largely economic, empire through trade and gunboat diplomacy, but decided it was too expensive to run openly, and the wiser course would be to attempt to pull the strings from offstage, letting the (relatively duller, but more plodding defense industry-oriented) US provide the muscle.

It worked well until after WWII, when the atomic bomb changed everything. It wasn't just old fashioned empire building, but a struggle to save the planet.

Eventually the UK/US 'won', but the world moved on.

And because of the difference between population growth/planet resources today and at the time of Greece/Rome, the rush toward devolution in empires takes on a different urgency.

Rome could fall apart and there was always more land. It was so even up to the US western expansion of the 19th Century.

The 20th Century saw the realization that there was only so much "living room" as the Nazis put it, so Colonialism took it as a sacred duty to heft the white man's burden if it meant securing the planet for Capitalism and Christianity. But it came at the cost of developing a bomb that could destroy it all.

So now the Empire fades, the world moves on, and the old school ties don't mean as much.

George W Bush committed the entire US military industrial complex to invading Iraq and securing the fossil fuel industry into the 21st Century.

It had nothing to do with 'Empire' and everything to do with lining the pockets of elites within the shadow play of nationalisms, who continue to laugh in their distance, thinking they can make money regardless of who the combatants are.

But the world is moving on.

None of the old assumptions are working.

foghorn - 10 Sep 2015 01:51:37 (#13 of 90)


virgil5 - 10 Sep 2015 01:53:48 (#14 of 90)

Your turn then :-)

virgil5 - 10 Sep 2015 01:58:10 (#15 of 90)

Oh right: you "believe in World peace" :-)


foghorn - 10 Sep 2015 01:58:41 (#16 of 90)

It´s dull, manage what we need and keep a human goal, but frankly it´s way out there in the future. We need to stop killing each other first.

virgil5 - 10 Sep 2015 02:02:48 (#17 of 90)

The UK needs to stop being a hypocritical poodle to the US.

It needs to stop being one of the biggest arms dealers on the planet, for another thing.

How's that Trident coming along?

foghorn - 10 Sep 2015 02:04:01 (#18 of 90)

For me it can go in the bin.

foghorn - 10 Sep 2015 02:05:42 (#19 of 90)

I´d pally up to France who has independent stuff.

Tangent - 10 Sep 2015 06:07:52 (#20 of 90)

We seem to have been waiting a long time though

On reflection, that seems to me to be one of the products of post-modernism and post-structuralism. The fundamental strength of these strands of thought is the way they address our problem of epistemological doubt. The power lies with the critical reader, viewer or listener who undercuts and picks apart the work while receiving it, and the creator is forced to make due homage to such an audience. The way forward would be a creator who can turn the tables on the audience, directly and indirectly, and make them question their own methods and assumptions rather than the work.

Check Subscriptions
Home » Issues