Joined: 14 Feb 2002
Location: On the globe that gave me birth-the cool green hills of Earth
|Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 7:26 pm Post subject: Irony Lives
|The recent surfacing of Malaysian Mahathir monomania and the missing male-member mojos makes for easy metaphoric mockery. Yet even the Reverend Billy Graham's taped anti-Semitic remark to President Nixon is interesting because of the irony it shows at a time when irony is said to be dead. In case there might be someone who doesn’t know the story or has forgotten in the wake of his triumphant Dallas appearance, last year Billy Graham was found on a Nixon tape from the 1970s saying that Jews have a stranglehold on the media in this country, and if Nixon is re-elected then he will be in a position to do something about this. His apology seemed sincere but unnecessary for image control. His image is inalterable in the Bible Belt. Now if he was out Swaggerting, I suppose it would a different story.
Despite the post-9/11 proclamation in the New York Times that irony is dead, it is in fact ironic that Graham's very dis-unifying remark should surface at a time after 9/11 when unity is the avatar of all those who want to believe that hope equals truth.
The public revelation that Graham's private beliefs seem opposed to his public image shows the eternal contrast between reality and the bright popular illusion that things are the way they appear to be simply because they are believed to be so. This incident further shows the fallacy of the idea that irony, meaning things are not as they seem, should not exist in a time of "united we stand." But if it had not been Reverend Graham's private beliefs contrasting with his public image it would have been some other example to show that belief does not equate with fact. Yet even when the New York Times editor proclaimed irony's death, he was speaking ironically. The irony is of course that the rain forest can be dead, elephants can be dead, oceans can be dead, Elvis can be dead (depending on who you talk to) but irony can never die.
Another ironic aspect of this incident is that it recalls the real reason for President Nixon's downfall in Watergate. He taped because he didn't trust anybody, not even his voters. Blind paranoia killed him even while the electoral landslide proved his public popularity. Again, if Reverend Graham's apology is motivated by image repair, he needn't worry. His image long ago transcended reality and moved into the realm of myth. The myth that he is the one virtuous, unbiased, faithful man of God that we can all count on is deeply established in the collective consciousness of America. Myth cannot be altered by fact. Fact shows that Elvis Presley was a child-marrying, woman-abusing, television-screen-blasting, bloated and narcotized fried-banana-sandwich-eating slug, but the myth of his demi-godliness is forever intact. All the factual books exposing President Kennedy's or Clinton’s salacious private lives may as well be written on water. These are facts, all right, but they have no effect on our illusions. When fact and myth collide in the True Believer’s mindset, myth wins every time.
The news of irony's death has been, as Mr. T said, greatly exaggerated. What should have been said is that irony is unpopular. Irony has always been unpopular. When it isn't, then and only then, it is dead.
Regards to all from MarkT, a secular agnostic Northerner writing and living happily in Hang ‘em High Cowtown, further proving that irony lives.
"—to find one's happiness in truth, to oppose illusion, to value integrity above God, and character above salvation."