Notes for a Treatise on the Death, From Fatigue, of Irony

A commentator named Howie posting to a webpage called Freedom of Speech links to Quick Study and says:

I gather that the folks in and around "artsjournal" or "inside higher ed" have a habit of "fisking" Jon Swift, so maybe he's not representative of anything much more than that sector of the audience who "gets get all their news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues."
Now, I do not really understand this very well -- and you'd think I would, given that the set of "folks in and around" both IHE and AJ is not enormous, and may even consist of a single member. Furthermore, I do not fisk, or at least hope I don't. It sounds kind of dirty.

Be that as it may, it seems at least slightly possible that a blogger bearing the name "Jon Swift" might be writing in a satirical vein. If so, when Swift includes himself among those who get "all their news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues," it might not  be meant to be taken literally. I am just going to put that idea out there on the table.

Other than that, I will concede some of Howie's point in the parts of the comment that I do understand -- namely, that it might be somebody other than Palin who assumes the role of Telegenic G.O.P. Demagogue.

But there are going to be plenty of folks out there who will see her as a victim of (warning: irony ahead) Katie Couric's hard-hitting, attack-style interviewing methods, and look back on her fondly. So my guess is that Palin will, over the long term, come out ahead.

(Thanks to Brian Book at The ITT List for linking to yesterday's post.)
September 26, 2008 11:51 AM | | Comments (4)



I'm tempted to defend myself, but I don't really feel like it.

But Howie has a cartoon avatar that moves. It dances. So there. Do you have a cartoon avatar that moves? I think not. Maybe your avatar rolls its eyes occasionally and sighs, but I've been watching it carefully for a very long time and I haven't seen it do anything. So what good is it? I think that proves Howie's point about fisking. So there.

A friend writes to ask if I really don't know what "fisking" means, and helpfully quotes the Wikipedia entry explaining that it is "blogosphere slang describing detailed point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, disputes the analysis of presented facts, or highlights other problems in a statement, article, or essay."

Having swum in the blogospheric oceans for a few years now, yes, I do know that. But sometimes a cheap joke is just too tempting.

On the other hand, I have never practiced fisking. There was the thing at Critical Mass -- linked in the entry above -- where I quoted a bunch of things Jon Swift had written in reviews at Amazon, but this was done in praise rather than complaint.

Everything Swift said was a gaffe (a deliberate one of course), but I pretended not to notice. So it was the exact opposite of fisking.

Is there is a word for such a move? All irony to the side, I really don't know. It seems like there ought to be.

I just read the latest commentary by Jon Swift, about last night's debates:

Last night’s debate gave us a telling insight into how McCain deals with opponents. He never made the mistake a less seasoned man might have made of looking Obama in the eye or even vaguely in his direction. Looking at your opponents gives them the opportunity to give you the evil eye, which unfortunately, may have been what happened to President Bush when he looked Vladimir Putin in the eye and thought he saw his soul. That is not a mistake John McCain will make. Even when he shook hands with Obama at the end of the debate, McCain looked away, refusing to let Obama hypnotize him with his Voodoo magic. That is the kind of strength and steely resolve we need in our next President.

And even if by some miracle our enemies (or even our friends, like Spain) agree to all of our preconditions and McCain condescends to meet with them, McCain will surely treat them with the contempt they deserve, just as he did with Obama last night. Obama was lucky that McCain even deigned to show up to debate him at all, as he made clear time and time again. The way McCain patiently castigated Obama for his naiveté and lectured him time and time again that he just doesn’t understand gave us some insight into McCain’s diplomatic skills, which will also prove useful in his dealings with Congress.

Let’s face it. The future looks bleak. We don’t need a President who is going to run around trying to fix things, falsely reassuring us that the situation isn’t as bad as it seems. We need a crotchety old man who knows what it is like to be trapped in a hopeless situation with little chance of escape, and who won’t be afraid to tell us that we are doomed and if we had only listened to him before he might have been able to do something but now it is too late.

I can't imagine how you figure this guy is a satirist

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This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on September 26, 2008 11:51 AM.

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