Irony and Change; Or, Why Porn is F**king Boring (Or is that Other Way Around?)

Kierkegaard begins the second part of The Concept of Irony exploring the place of irony in shifting or changing of historical eras.

Catholicism was the given actuality for the generation living at the time of the Reformation, and yet it was also the actuality that no longer had validity as such.  Consequently, one actuality collides here with another actuality. (260)

Kierkegaard goes on to explore the difference between the ironist on one hand and the prophet and hero on the other.  The prophet articulates presentiments and the hero battles for the new over the old but the ironist perceives the old “in all its imperfection” (261).

For the ironic subject, the given actuality has lost its validity entirely; it has become for him an imperfect form that is a hindrance everywhere.  But on the other hand, he does not possess the new. . . . He is the one who must pass judgment.  In one sense the ironist is certainly prophetic, because he is continually pointing to something impending, but what it is he does not know.  He is prophetic, but his position and situation are the reverse of the prophet’s. The prophet walks arm in arm with his age, and from this position he glimpses what is coming. . . . The ironist, however, has stepped out of line with his age, has turned around and faced it.  That which is hidden from him, lies behind his back, but the actuality he so antagonistically confronts is what he must destroy; upon this he focuses his burning gaze (261).

The negative work of irony here is not of particular phenomena but of the whole, infinite absolute negativity.  Here Kierkegaard begins to drawn heavily on Hegel noting that the ‘negative’ in Hegel’s system is ‘irony’ in actual history.  He then moves on to articulate a position that sounds very much like the Hegel/Kierkegaard synthesis that Zizek promotes.

[S]ince the ironist does not have the new in his power, we might ask how, then, does he destroy the old, and the answer to that must be: he destroys the given actuality by the given actuality itself; but it should be remembered nevertheless that the new principle is present within him [potentially], as possibility.  But by destroying actuality by means of actuality itself, he enlists in the service of world irony.  In his Geschichte der Philosophie, Hegel says: “All dialectic allows as valid that which is to be valid as if it were valid, allows inner destruction to develop in it – the universal irony of the world” (262). [emphasis mine]

The means of destruction are provided by what is to be destroyed.  Let me take an example that may be more or less controversial depending on my reader.  I grew up with pornography being a dark, shrouded and heinous sin.  In my evangelical youth I remember various works emerging to deal with this problem.  Pornography was treated like acid.  To even inadvertently cast a less-than-pure glance over a cheerleader as you (religiously) watched football was to risk being splashed with its scarring spew.  Eye poison.

Now I can appreciate the need to address pornography on a number of levels but I began to see this approach heaping supernatural power on nearly every form of possible sexual expression.  Now for any of you wander off the straight and narrow path of internet browsing (perhaps finding less-than-legal sites for sampling music or whatever) it does not take much to come across some pretty hardcore stuff.  First glances raise all that historical baggage but then I actually looked at what was being promoted.  How incredibly unattractive and downright boring this stuff is.  I can see why the industry has to be the fastest evolving in terms of technology and expression because it plays out so quickly.  In other words the seeds of its destruction are within.  I am not looking to downplay the reality of addictions.  I mean getting drunk becomes pretty boring as well.  The question may be to help people into a space where they can see clearly what is at play and name it for themselves as opposed to having someone else name it for them.  Or at least to understand where these names come from and who is invested in them.

Now perhaps we can move on to economics . . .

Advertisements

One comment on “Irony and Change; Or, Why Porn is F**king Boring (Or is that Other Way Around?)

  1. […] . . then check another buried post or at least head over to The Last Psychiatrist for his diagnoses of the effects of too much […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s