Thursday, January 16, 2014

Scowls i

     The mail was not light,
     on the alignment offer-
     ed in the previous ent-
     ry, of Lachowski's pro-
     file in reptile, juxta-
     posed to a reference to
     Samuel Johnson. One saw
     irony as merry or not,
     depending on viewpoints
     beyond anyone's control.

     These divisions in the
     readership recall the
     enigma of scowls at a
     certain age - an expres-
     sion mastered studiously
     and yet of almost indis-
     criminate application.

The spirit of jest is innate, but such is the irony in blog-ging that a deference to the convention of illustration threatens to deprive the ironic style of its happiest latitude, sometimes. The moderating of irony is not an art or a science, but a device available to homogeneous communities of taste - clubs, schools, cliques, and certain professions. Here, the process is reversed, as indulgence is pleaded over time as the shaping of a community of wickets left standing. From an age represented serviceably in these portraits, one responds to Dr Johnson's irony sharply, but with highly uneven warmth. The temperature struck by Haydn, in the same vein and time, was fortunate in its medium. 

Although Haydn was as adroit as anyone could wish, in irony's play with expectations, he undeniably benefitted from a neo-professional syntax which, if unmastered, can all but conceal semantic play. Otherwise, irony is simply vulnerable to the supply of good will which may or may not linger still beneath the scowl of affectation, however hoary its custom. A good friend wrote, à propos of the Federal ruling in Oklahoma, my generation .. smiles when each victory comes, and generally wishes the fight would hurry up and be done. One shouldn't wish to be post-ironic, however, with the scowl surviving. 

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