Isn’t it Ironic?
My capacity for subtlety must be getting stronger. One weird critique of my work has stuck with me for years— “You aren’t very subtle, are you?” I took this to heart, though it was meant in jest. I strive for directness, but directness is not always equivalent with a lack of complexity or subtlety. It makes me feel good that I made Tom ponder my little indictment of Wordsworth. It was meant to have a certain irony.
There was a lot I wanted to say when I wrote “You’re soaking in it,” but I thought it best to leave it vague. There’s a big split between romantic theory and practice, and I want to write about it at greater length. Even still, I find it more attractive than social constructivism, where everything is reduced to the constitutive nature of social practice. It’s hard to consolidate individuality with appetite. That’s what I was really pondering. I have my own share of problems with Wordsworth— though I admire him— and in reflection, most of those problems are contained in his prefaces rather than his poetry. I’m trying to figure out whether it’s irony, or just misfortune.
”It’s like rain on your wedding day / A free ride, when you’ve already paid”— Alanis knows only misfortune, not irony. Wordsworth, I suspect, was smarter than that. But the contradictory nature of his writings and poetry are maddening. There’s more musing to come on that topic, but for now I just wanted to check the perception of irony on the web. Irony.com provides help for those into role playing games. Unfortunately, Ironymag is for women who lift weights. Irony Maiden is for fans of Daria, but thankfully, Irony Plug-ins are available. This site has an admirable aim:
We are a charitable institution, founded in 1996, devoted to ensuring that standards of English comprehension are maximised throughout the World Wide Web.
Our research revealed what many had previously suspected, and reported informally – certain web users were incapable of recognising, let alone using, irony or sarcasm. Problems associated with this included:
- inability to appreciate humour more complex than Benny Hill or Adam Sandler comedies;
- difficulty distinguishing between emails and websites satirising other people’s beliefs, and emails and websites that actually promote those beliefs;
- fundamentalist religious beliefs and political naivety;
- general stupidity.
Reflecting on the joys of sociality while alone in a bathtub was not meant to be unfortunate, but rather, ironic. I’m still undecided whether Wordsworth, Emerson, and Thoreau’s celebration of solitude was ironic or unfortunate. I’ve been reading a lot of Blake today, comparing his thoughts on solitude. I think it’s the solitude=reflection equation that bothers me most. Blake saw problems with it too. There will be more solitary reflections to come.