feedback from Yale

Johannes & Marcus,

I came across after a long discussion with a high school friend on the topic this evening at a bar over some $2 pitchers of cheap American beer in suburban Missouri, USA. We realized that evening that not only were we making fun of the low-quality beer we were drinking, we were also remarking on our actual enjoyment of it. Furthermore, the act of lashing these two ideas together in our minds proved to be almost no burden at all, yet the realization of this fact seemed quite culturally wondrous.

Upon returning home, I decided to type in the URL ‚‘ just to see if anything came up. Startlingly (yet possibly appropriately) enough, something did. I read the ten points, agreed with them almost completely, and wanted to respond:

Let us begin with the newfound resurgence of 80’s pop music in middle-class 20-something America: Do we enjoy 80’s music purely as an ironic conceit, dancing to the beats because they are so gaudy and kitschy and terrible? Or do we enjoy it because it’s actually quite catchy and was popular for legitimate reasons? I say BOTH. This is the essence of post-irony — enjoyment of things both ironically AND legitimately. Our bleeding-edge contemporary world just wouldn’t be the same without the two lashed together in post-ironic bliss.

A further example: This <>  is post-ironic, but this <>  is not. Yet Fat American designed a t-shirt for SWPL. Is post-irony not yet fully understood?

Post-ironic allows for and necessitates both ironic and legitimate enjoyment of things. It is what makes guilty pleasures not that guilty, it is what allows us to laugh when directly comment on an awkward situation we are in then and there, it is what catalyzes the new trend of 80’s pop music enjoyment.

Last year I purchased a humorous winter hat for my girlfriend. The hat was a wool stocking cap, with a very large poof-ball of yarn adorning the top. It made for a hilarious sight, and I was quite amused at seeing my girlfriend knowingly wear such a definitively silly hat.

Not only was I able to enjoy this silly sight ironically (knowing that the hat was indeed ridiculous-looking), but I also realized that I actually found my girlfriend more attractive when she was wearing it: I found both ironic and legitimate enjoyment in her wearing this hat. It amused me sarcastically and honestly at the same time. Ultimately, the confluence of the two made me happy.

Indeed, there’s a visceral joy that seeps out of the cracks in the world when something truly absurd or beautifully post-ironic happens. In some ways it feels like the grace of God, that the universe is yawning open to reveal something magical about itself, something surprising and new and hilarious and wondrous, all at the same time.  For me, the critical realization here is that the supposed schism in enjoyment between irony and legitimacy is not entirely clear. So often there seems to be much pleasure available solely in the universe of post-irony (such as girlfriends wearing silly hats) that the legitimate world nor the purely ironic world could never even approach.

Life is far more fascinating when approached with a scent of post-irony in the air. And it seems that there is something poetic about living right in the gray zone between absurdity and legitimacy, toying with the edge like it was some malleable thing that could, one day, unlock the secrets of the universe for anyone who cares to look for the truth.

I’ll look forward to hearing back from you soon.