LETTING THE FEEBLE PRETEND THEY DON’T CARE: Irony is Ruining Our Culture
Edgar Rice Burroughs has a line in “The Land That Time Forgot” that I didn’t fully understand when I read it as a child, but which I never forgot: “‘I don’t like irony,’ she said; ‘it indicates a small soul.'”
Little did I know that phrase would come to define the days I find myself living in, or that small souled, demeaning irony would become the default position of the very cultural institutions that are supposed to act as the caretakers of the experience of art.
Hardly anyone outside the creative class bubble pays any attention to the shenanigans being committed in the commercial contemporary art world. Those who do check out recent offerings in a gallery or museum quickly realize they haven’t been missing anything.
Jeff Koon’s Balloons, inflated by more than hot air
“Sad Shower in New York” by Royal Academy Professor of Drawing Tracey Emin. Sad indeed.
Damien Hirst: Again with the taxidermied animals assembled by someone else-but now with a toilet!
Christopher Wool “Apocalypse Now” sold for $26.5 million. The apocalypse would be a relief at this point
What a massive failure of vision and purpose our establishment steered our culture into!
To embrace irony is to strike a pose of groundless superiority, to think social status is demonstrated by a jaded attitude. Like many attempts at bluffing and bullying, it is a defensive posture intended to hide tangible weaknesses. Isn’t that ironic?
Irony is the philosophy of sour grapes. Those who feel incapable of producing something with skill, meaning and significance like to act like they don’t want those achievements manifested in their works. But even worse, and more treacherous, to preserve their façade they must suppress and undermine the works of others who are striving towards some higher purpose or accomplishment. Sophisticated poseurs can tolerate no reminder of their own shortcomings. Irony is a form of passive-aggressive envy.
Key questions in the David Foster Wallace article: “So, to be more nuanced about what’s at stake: In the present moment, where does art rise above ironic ridicule and aspire to greatness, in terms of challenging convention and elevating the human spirit? Where does art build on the best of human creation and also open possibilities for the future? What does inspired art-making look like?”
The principles of Remodernism address these questions. We can take the divisive explorations of Modernism and redeem them, reintegrate the fragments shorn against our ruin into a healthy and fulfilling human act.
It’s an exciting time to be an artist, and help the world move past the self-serving decadence the self-proclaimed elites cultivate. It’s time to call the bluffs, stand up to the bullying, and put the perpetrators to the test. Can their art survive outside the privileged cloisters they huddle in?
18 thoughts on “ARTICLE: The Art World’s Destructive, Defensive Irony”
There is a surprising amount of sly wit and insight hidden away in ERB’s novels. And very little irony (though he could use it when appropriate).
True, Edgar Rice Burroughs is an exciting writer. Plus he created one of the greatest archetypal characters of our culture, so he has that going for him.
Thank you! Inspirational morning reading. Heading to New York to see the irony first hand. You should get picked up by a paper or two and write for Remodernism.
“It’s an exciting time to be an artist, and help the world move past the self-serving decadence the self-proclaimed elites cultivate.”
Fuel for the train.
Today, we have to become salvage divers, swimming into the deep, searching for relics to remind us of who we are, or for ruins from which we can rebuild.
Thanks! Enjoy New York-my hope is you will see some surprising quality in some unexpected corner-good work is being made, it’s just not fashionable
Yes, out of their rot, a new understanding will rise
The article was inspiring to one artist struggling to express herself with some meaning. Thanks for your words.
The world deserves better than the tripe served up by the elitists-they will be beaten by creative individuals following their own unique visions. Keep up your good work!
Thank you for your post. You wrote: “To embrace irony is to strike a pose of groundless superiority, to think social status is demonstrated by a jaded attitude. Like many attempts at bluffing and bullying, it is a defensive posture intended to hide tangible weaknesses.”
Yes, and beyond that It is to treat everything as a win or lose proposition, a game in which the win, regardless of merit, is the only goal.
Very true. For self-styled players, the ends justify the means, and the only end they care about is their own self-aggrandizement
Yes–I agree. The good news is that, at least for now, new methods of publishing and promoting the arts have released the stranglehold of academia in the arts.
Thank you for your comment.
We are bypassing the filters-our blogs are part of it-keep up the good work!
yep…It’s a great time to be an artist. 🙂
Hirst’s signature actually looks like the word Sh*t . . . just thought I’d mention it . . . http://wp.me/pXk9K-Cz
That is funny-he’s a regular reverse Midas!
[…] The cultural institutions have replaced art with artifice, an empty mimicry of the outer appearances and gestures of art, without partaking of any of its true substance and significance. Where once the ruling class subsidized creative geniuses like Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso, they now throw money at marketing hucksters like Jeff Koons, propaganda shills like Banksy, and cynical nihilists like Damien Hirst. […]