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Posts Tagged ‘irony

“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, “I wish I had known this some time ago”*…

 

irony

 

“Irony” is a term that everyone uses and seems to understand. It is also a concept that is notoriously difficult to define. Much like Winona Ryder’s character in the 1994 rom-com “Reality Bites,” whose inability to describe irony costs her a job interview, we know it when we see it, but nonetheless have trouble articulating it. Even worse, it seems as if the same term is used to describe very different things. And following your mother’s advice — to look it up in the dictionary — is liable to leave you even more confused than before.

Uncertainty about irony can be found almost everywhere. An American president posts a tweet containing the phrase “Isn’t it ironic?” and is derided for misusing the term. A North Korean dictator bans sarcasm directed at him and his regime because he fears that people are only agreeing with him ironically. A song about irony is mocked because its lyrics contain non-ironic examples. The term has been applied to a number of different phenomena over time, and as a label, it has been stretched to accommodate a number of new senses. But exactly how does irony differ from related concepts like coincidence, paradox, satire, and parody?…

A handy guide to distinguishing the notoriously slippery concept of irony from its distant cousins coincidence, satire, parody, and paradox: “What Irony is Not,” excerpted from Irony and Sarcasm, by Roger Kreuz.

* Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn

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As we choose our words, we might recall that it was on this date in 1483 that Pope Sixtus IV consecrated the Sistine Chapel (which takes its name from his) in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City.  Originally known as the Cappella Magna (Great Chapel), Sixtus had renovated it, enlisting a team of Renaissance painters that included Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli to create a series of frescos depicting the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe-l’œil drapery below.  Michelangelo’s famous ceiling was painted from 1508 to 1512; and his equally-remarkable altarpiece, The Last Judgement, from 1536 to 1541.

220px-Sistina-interno source

 

“I quote others only in order the better to express myself”*…

 

A recent query to the always-illuminating Language Log:

I’m reading my new copy of Soonish and came across a reference to air quotes and I got to wondering about the meme. I remember using them at least 30 years or more ago, entirely un-ironically. How does one go about looking up the history of such a thing? How would you reconcile the discoverable print references to its presumably earlier emergence as a metalinguistic thing in itself? At what point do the words, “air quotes” show up to stand for actual physically-performed “Air Quotes”?

Find the answers at: “Air Quotes.”

* Michel de Montaigne

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As we admit that there’s probably no pithier way to be ironic, mocking, or disingenuous, we might recall that it was on this date in 1726 that Jonathan Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships— much better known as Gulliver’s Travels— was first published.  A satire both of human nature and of the “travelers’ tales” literary subgenre popular at the time, it was an immediate hit (John Gay wrote in a 1726 letter to Swift that “It is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery”).  It has, of course, become a classic.

From the first edition

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Written by LW

October 28, 2017 at 1:01 am

The Vice President will see you now…

A firearms instructor accidentally shot a student while teaching a gun-safety class on Saturday in Fairfield County [Ohio] to people seeking permits to carry concealed weapons.

Terry J. Dunlap Sr., who runs a shooting range and training center at 6995 Coonpath Rd. near Lancaster, was demonstrating a handgun when he fired a .38-caliber bullet that ricocheted off a desk and into student Michael Piemonte’s right arm.

Dunlap, 73, also is a long-time Violet Township trustee who is running for re-election in November.

Yesterday, Piemonte said he feels lucky, and it could have been worse.

He and his wife, Allison, both 26 and residents of Pataskala in Licking County, attended the daylong concealed-carry class together.

“My wife was sitting just inches away from me,” he said. “It could have easily hit her.”

Dunlap apparently didn’t know that the gun was loaded, Piemonte said — “That’s my guess”…

Read the full story in The Columbus Dispatch, and here (from whence, the photo above).

Oh, and as Gawker reports, a Republican state senator in Arkansas who is leading a legislative committee on the subject of giving guns to school teachers accidentally shot a teacher during an “active shooter” drill earlier this year.

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As we load and lock, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono landed in New York City, having left London in the aftermath of the break-up of the Beatles.  They took up residence at the Dakota, near what’s now known as “Strawberry Fields,” two years later.

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Written by LW

September 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

(Big)foot in the mouth…

Picture of a Ghillie suit like the one worn by Randy Lee Tenley in his attempts at creating a stir of Bigfoot sightings.

44-year-old Randy Lee Tenley of Kalispell was apparently trying to provoke reports of a Bigfoot sighting in northwestern Montana; the Montana Highway Patrol reports that he was wearing a military style “Ghillie suit” and standing in the right-hand lane of U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell when he was hit by a car Sunday night. A second car hit him as he lay in the roadway.  Tenley was pronounced dead.

“Alcohol may have been a factor,” Trooper Jim Schneider told press. “Impairment is up in the air.”

Read the full story in the Daily News.

[TotH to NextDraft and friend KL]

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As we muse on monstrous motives, we might recall that it was on this date in 1864 that Count Leo Tolstoy, author and mystical anarchist, was seized by a panic attack in a country inn– an episode that became the basis for “Notes of a Madman.”

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Written by LW

September 3, 2012 at 1:01 am

Special “The Irony of It All” Edition…

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Yesterday, in the midst of a wholesale effort to squelch Wiikileaks (e.g., here), The U.S. government announced that it will be hosting World Press Freedom Day in 2011.

Meantime, one can perfectly easily use a Mastercard (or Paypal or Visa) to buy counterfeit products, download porn, purchase guns… but not to donate to Wikileaks…

“Jonathan Swift!  Calling Dr. Jonathan Swift!…”

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