22 April 2006

irony is dead

one of our friends in grad school used to say this a lot. he meant, I think, not that irony wasn't effective or interesting, but that very vew people could identify what irony is anymore. this view coincided with Alanis Morisette's song 'Ironic' which, perhaps, if you give Alanis a whole lot of credit, and I mean a whole lot, is a meta-ironic comment itself, as the lyrics ironically contain no irony. just a lot of similes. irony is dead.

one is therefore extremely careful in the use of 'irony' and the word 'ironic' to describe things, as it's one of those words (like 'literally') which is inappropriately used, sometimes to hilarious result. rain on your wedding day isn't ironic. it's inconvenient and wet, perhaps, but it happens. can rain be ironic? I'm not sure. perhaps readers can construct a scenario in which rain on your wedding day might be ironic, but it would involve an entire storytelling verse prior to the chorus that explains the context for said irony.

all that to lead up to a BBC story about India's program to alleviate poverty, in which it pays folks minimum wage and guarantees 100 days work per year for each rural household. this works in some places and is running into corruption in other places. quote:
Mr Das is not the only person worried about implementation. One of the ironies is that India's poorest states which need the scheme most are generally its worst governed too.

is that irony? or just common sense? fill me in. am I wrong? is it ironic? or just tragically expected and normal?

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Can rain be ironic, Rebecca asks?

The Coronation of QEII was set for the day in the English calendar when, historically, there had been the lowest possible chance of rain. But you guessed it: it rained.

Ironically, however, the much-dreaded rain served to make the day's events particularly memorable, as visions of foreign dignitaries riding soggily in open-topped carriages through London's streets stuck in many people's minds as emblematic of the Coronation.

Is India's situation ironic? No. It would be ironic if the money earmarked to help the poor actually *increased* their difficulties -- say, by inspiring a corruption that didn't previously exist. Like tube wells that introduce arsenic into the daily water supply.