90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
A Case For Irony

Whatever happened to irony? Not sarcasm, not snark. Jonathan Lear on why we need real irony, now.

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

When the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001, a prominent American essayist wrote in a widely-quoted piece that the age of irony was over.  The world had become all too real.  The end of irony was at hand.  And hallelujah.  My guest today, University of Chicago philosopher Jonathan Lear, says hold on.

We need irony, he says, maybe now more than ever.  Not simple eye-rolling detachment.  Not snark.  Not sarcasm.  But the irony that makes us step back and profoundly question how close we are really coming to our ideals.

This hour, On Point: the case for irony.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jonathan Lear, a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. He’s the author of A Case For Irony. This speech, given recently at the University of Kansas, outlines some of the ideas developed for the book A Case For Irony.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Salon “One of the points of these questions that I think is very important in the central usage of irony is that it is not the opposite of earnestness. When you’re asking these questions, you’re not just being a smartass, or saying the opposite of what you mean in order to be recognized as saying the opposite of what you mean.”

Time “One good thing could come from this horror: it could spell the end of the age of irony. For some 30 years–roughly as long as the Twin Towers were upright–the good folks in charge of America’s intellectual life have insisted that nothing was to be believed in or taken seriously. Nothing was real. With a giggle and a smirk, our chattering classes–our columnists and pop culture makers–declared that detachment and personal whimsy were the necessary tools for an oh-so-cool life. Who but a slobbering bumpkin would think, “I feel your pain”? The ironists, seeing through everything, made it difficult for anyone to see anything. The consequence of thinking that nothing is real–apart from prancing around in an air of vain stupidity–is that one will not know the difference between a joke and a menace.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 27, 2015
Rescue workers work on debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, Thursday, March 26, 2015. The co-pilot of the Germanwings jet barricaded himself in the cockpit and “intentionally” rammed the plane full speed into the French Alps, ignoring the captain’s frantic pounding on the cockpit door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor said Thursday. (AP)

The co-pilot and the plane in the Alps? Ted Cruz announces 2016 bid. Heinz buys Kraft. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Mar 27, 2015
Members of  a November Project 'tribe' pause during a November 2014 workout. (Brogan Graham / Instagram)

Spring training. From easy-access yoga to outdoor exercise meet-ups, exercise plans you’ll want to do.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 27, 2015
Members of  a November Project 'tribe' pause during a November 2014 workout. (Brogan Graham / Instagram)

Spring training. From easy-access yoga to outdoor exercise meet-ups, exercise plans you’ll want to do.

 
Mar 27, 2015
Rescue workers work on debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, Thursday, March 26, 2015. The co-pilot of the Germanwings jet barricaded himself in the cockpit and “intentionally” rammed the plane full speed into the French Alps, ignoring the captain’s frantic pounding on the cockpit door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor said Thursday. (AP)

The co-pilot and the plane in the Alps? Ted Cruz announces 2016 bid. Heinz buys Kraft. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: March 27, 2015
Friday, Mar 27, 2015

More on the incessant email debate, plus some goats living their best lives and the sad allure of Manhattan’s shuttered Pommes Frites.

More »
Comment
 
Mobile Payments Offer Convenience If You Keep Your Email Safe
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Thinking about moving your wallet to your phone? You can! And maybe you should? But TechCrunch senior writer Josh Constine has a few things to tell you before you do.

More »
1 Comment
 
Using Technology To Get Your Kids Outside
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

The latest and greatest — using apps to make natural exploration more fun for your kids.

More »
Comment