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By using the tag Popular songs I am able to trace the development of my short and unsuccessful songwriting efforts. I started in September &...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The opposite of irony?

What do I mean by the opposite of irony? Well, irony is based on contradiction, right? I remember my daughter laughing as some bicycles suspended from a ceiling of a store. She was maybe 4, and she knew that bicycles did not belong in the air. Her favorite book in those days was Wacky Wednesday, an ode to humorous incongruity.

The absence of irony is the absence of contradictions or discrepancies. It is unnoticeable, because it is consistent and normal. So the real absence of irony is a consistency so consistent with itself that it calls attention to itself in spite of being expected. A white privileged male acts like an entitled privileged person. Aha! We expect that, of course, but this particular example of it is too perfect to escape notice. We wouldn't say, ironically, the storm chaser was killed by a tornado. That is not ironic at all, but rather all too fitting.

What Barthes called the doxa was the opposite of the paradox. It is what everyone expects to be the case. The paradox, much beloved here at SMT, is the opposite of that. We don't have as many labels for things that go with the grain.

2 comments:

Andrew Shields said...

That draws out for me how rhetorical figures in general are always ways of putting things that are non-standard. It's the deviation that from the norm that needs a special name. The standard way of putting things remains unmarked as the implicit norm.

Of course, that's also generalizable beyond rhetoric.

Jonathan said...

Yes. But I still think I have to invent a term for this specific kind of expectable but slightly surprising non-irony. It is like a semantic rhyme that produces a shock of recognition, like the way a daughter's face rhymes with her mother's.