Ironic Detachment

One of the things that I see over and over again is that we live in a world of irony, of insincerity. Zizek says that we believe that we live in a post-ideological world because we enable ourselves to become ironically detached from the material realities. And to an extent, he's right. We have let ourselves become decoupled from what actually happens through layers of insincerity.

However I've noticed that irony plays a big part in the ideological actions of people in day to day life, that is that is provide protections against certain parts of signalling that could not be avoided if done sincerely.

The first and most obvious would be the rise of the 'edgy meme', that is memes that set out to shock and offend. There are plenty of people who would consider themselves to be decent people. But enjoy this genre of (what is essentially) comedy. Why are these people able to enjoy what is essentially horrific and offensive content? They have been able to decouple themselves from the meaning, whilst the content may be describing horrific acts of murder they know it's not real and there's a shared consensus that it is, for the large part, a joke.

How does this map out into the daily actions of a person? I've said that the PC music label was an example of the use of the post-modern. And we can see the detachment from the actual music; that which in the late 90s and mid 00s was ultra-commercial has been taken to the next level and distorted into a brand new ideal for the music. There is of course layers to this but one of them is the sincere love for the music of this period. A lot perhaps relating to nostalgia.

I think the interaction with nostalgia and irony is an intresting one, and it has been talked about before in extent. Mark Fisher talked about nostalgia for pasts that didn't exist and futures that can't exist. But I also think that this power comes from the ability to detach ourselves from what is thought of as 'nostalgic' and 'progressive'. Who is PC Music popular with? The new Ironic Progressive youth. We trick ourselves into saying that this is the next big step in culture but it's not! We are doomed to dig up deal cultural artifacts, says Fisher.

Perhaps the most important thing here is that we're stunting our progress with a detachment from what exists. Sure the world is bad, everything seems so bad at the moment. But what are we to do but complain, alienated from the 'real systems'. Ironic detachment is but one of these mechanisms that creates this alienation for sure, but it's one that we have the power to overcome, with enough effort, I feel.

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