Windbag alert and attention conservation notice

I have developed a manifesto-sized idea and am about to blog it out. You have been warned. Long essays making a large cultural point can’t be sold and published conventionally unless the author is a respected and eminent intellectual or a rock ‘n’ roll star. Those who can, do; those who aren’t, blog.

This may fizzle or may be several essays; I’m not sure where I’m going to pinch off the blog yet. Because of TL;DR in this post-literate medium I present some bullet points below for those who aren’t going to plow through the thing.

  • Irony is worse than dead, it’s suicidal.
  • Stop celebrating bad art, bad food, and evil. There’s a place for enjoying things that are so bad they’re good. It isn’t the place called “the entire culture.” Giving up on quality of any kind has more serious consequences than we might think.
  • Phony postmodernism kills. Take the risk of being well-meaning and sincere. A couple of poorly understood Cultural Studies classes does not confer the privilege of detached Godhood.
  • Permanent adolescence is no improvement over permanent childhood. Living our lives fully and meaningfully is a duty to others and not just to ourselves.
  • Subcultures, fandoms, and gaming worlds are eating a generation of privileged and educated people alive when we could and should be doing well and doing good. Come out of the couch fort and live.
  • Cheap fatalism is a crime of privilege. Admitting defeat in advance hurts many, many people less fortunate than we are before it touches us.

I freely admit in advance that I will be didactic, pretentious, and annoyingly prescriptive. It’s likely that I’ll also be irrelevant and that I will make a fool of myself. I have no formal training in philosophy or sociology and will probably reinvent various wheels poorly.

But sometimes an idea just arrives and possesses me. This one has sat on me for years, and is at the root of a troublesome fiction project that won’t budge. Tormenting my small audience with an unsaleable vanity-press think piece is the best I can do with it right now.

Further material in this series will be tagged “ironyproject.”

34 thoughts on “Windbag alert and attention conservation notice

  1. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to this. To all your points I cry yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Let’s face our fear that the real world might suck and dare to explore it. Let’s dare to mean what we say. Let’s be radically sincere.

  2. not only am i looking forward to it… i am looking forward to you mocking me somehow in this because i like PBR and video games! actually it would be refreshing if you’d tell me how i suck at this point. I am being totally serious, there is no sarcasm here.

  3. UNO: This makes me think of an unkillable virus in art galleries called SoBIG (for SO Bad It’s Good). It misappropriates the concept of SoBIG films and deliberately misreads DuChamp and using pop and/or minimalist theory to justify lazy, slapdash work. One of the places where these folks get shown up is at art school graduation exhibits, where (contrary to Art School Confidential) the SoBIG kids end up looking sort of pathetic when their metal band logos hastily scribbled on notebook paper are surrounded by work by those who actually attended class.
    TWO: THis also made me think of the following excerpt from a Russell Baker column called “Why Being Serious Is Hard“. Baker goes on to provide a list of solem and serious things (while admitting his essay is solemn).
    By his terms, ironic detachment is solemn, satire and the original definition of irony is serious.
    Taste can be serious or solemn, but letting one’s taste be defined only by one’s idea of fashion and cutural posturing is solemn.
    ***
    The distinction between serious and being solemn seems to be vanishing among Americans, just as surely as the distinction between “now” and “presently” and the distinction between liberty and making a mess.
    Being solemn is easy, being serious is hard. You probably have to be born serious, or at least go through and interesting childhood. Children almost always begin by being serious, which is what makes them so entertaining when compared to adults as a class.
    Adults, on the whole, are solemn. The transition from seriousness to solemnity occurs in adolescence, a period when nature, for reasons of her own, plunges people into foolish frivolity. During this period the organism struggle to regain dignity by recovering childhood’s genius for seriousness…one cannot go on toward eternity without some flimsy attempt at dignity. Adolescence will not do. One must at least make the effort to resume childhood’s lost seriousness, and so with the best of intentions, one tries his best, only to end up being vastly, uninterestingly solemn.
    -Russell Baker

      1. Oh, yes indeed. I run into so much wabi-sabi from people who can’t tell the difference between their work and Art. I guess it’s more that they really don’t want to make the difference between artists and hobbyists or something. Guh.
        I’m looking forward to this.

    1. Serious/Solemn
      Alan Watts once talked about this same thing, except
      what this guy calls “serious” and “solemn”, he
      called “sincere” and “serious” (respectively! sic!).

  4. “Subcultures, fandoms, and gaming worlds are eating a generation of privileged and educated people alive when we could and should be doing well and doing good. Come out of the couch fort and live.”
    Excellently put.

  5. Reason #450837371839 I am so glad you are my friend.
    Also maybe this will inspire me to finally write the thing about similar shit (thing about similar shit being the official industry jargon) that I’ve been threatening to write for foreverrr.
    pandalove

  6. Many have already lept in with some personal takes on your bullet points, and it was my first impulse to do so, too. But I am also looking forward to this and will keep my thoughts to myself until you’ve actually posted the damn thing.

  7. “I will be didactic, pretentious, and annoyingly prescriptive.

    Good. High time someone did.

    It’s likely that I’ll also be irrelevant and that I will make a fool of myself.

    The former is unlikely and the latter would be a literary first for you, and therefore very unlikely.
    (This is not platitude, nor is it (only) intended as encouragement. It’s agreeing that such an essay is needed, and that you are probably more qualified than most to write it. It may not meet your standards, but it will likely exceed most others’ – which, of course, is the writer’s curse.)

  8. Phony postmodernism kills. Take the risk of being well-meaning and sincere. A couple of poorly understood Cultural Studies classes does not confer the privilege of detached Godhood.
    Thank You! I was beginning to wonder if I was the last human on Earth that didn’t feel like I was tragically hip/sufficiently doomed enough to live in the 21st Century. Perhaps at some point I’ll rat out my Lit professor from last semester on this score…
    mojo sends

    1. well, there’s “annoying the superstitious” evil (which I can totally get behind), and there’s “permanently fucking all mankind for ego gratification” evil, which… not so much.

  9. Hi – I found you through Anarqueso’s journal and have been scrolling through a few entries, giggling and thinking. This entry made me stop to write because I feel it has the potential to be a brave and painfully relevant work. I was curious if you would be looking at your own tendencies to irony? Do you have them?

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