Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Ironic Resolutions for 2008:

I like to read my weekly horoscope. Since I lead a rather bleak, dead end kind of life, I get quite a kick from reading how fantastically clever I am, being a Scorpio and what an exciting life I have.

The last horoscope for 2007 told me what I like to hear:

One of the things I like about you is your attitude: "I am what I am. Love it or leave it." It's clear and honest and open. But the truth is you're not quite as badass as you make yourself out to be. There's room for flexibility and compromise. You don't need to bend yourself over backward to accommodate someone, as your Libran neighbors might, but allowing a hint that there are other possibilities is a fantastic idea. Contortionist, you're not. We know that already. But can you be a little bit flexible? Let's see if you can touch your toes, or agree to give something new a try this week. That, at least, would be a start.

There is very little to disagree with in this description, or advice. Indeed I'm no contortionist*, nor am I as badass as I'd like to project myself. I still have some way to go in removing every scintilla of emotionalism from my analyses. I have noticed recently that my writing gets increasingly ironic. That means that even when I write about issues which are of the utmost importance to me, on an existential level, I tend to use an ironical curl of the lip which is not always well received or well understood. I tend to deflate in order to inflate, I tend to accompany a compliment with a taunting remark. The problem with this kind of expression is that the real balance of my position, the choice I make between the pros and cons of a given problem, is not always instantly obvious.

There is nothing more killing to irony than explaining it. Irony is a squint: you appear to look at one thing while in fact you are staring at another object, some distance away. It is a deliberate, rhetorical squint, but it does not mean that the intention is malign any more than the natural phenomenon of a squint is. Like the squint, irony is just a way of observing which may seem strange to the onlooker or reader. By no means is it in opposition to sympathy or love or any other of the positive emotions which animate my interest in a subject, or motivate ethically minded writing.

So what are my new year resolutions, after all this meandering and prevarications?

1. I'll try to apply greater circumspection to my writing so as to enhance the effectiveness of irony while not shooting myself in the foot doing it.

2. I'll try to bring greater dispassion to my analysis of issues, events, people.

3. I'll try to learn how to dance the tango with some elegance.

4. For sure, I'll try to deepen and expand my knowledge of Spanish so that I can write my 2009 resolutions in Spanish and translate the first page of "Don Quixote" in relative confidence.

5. The horoscope prescribes more flexibility. I can reach my toes quite easily so there is no challenge there. No way am I going to change my hair colour. But I could try a new toenail polish, like bright blue or shocking pink. That would be quite a radical step for someone who likes the colourless and demure.

6. Read Don Quixote

7. The usual . . .


* Contortionist - I usually refer to those who are as "rhinoceros", after the Ionesco play. These are the people who would twist from a roof corner trying to persuade others that their statements or arguments are valid, or reasonable. Like the people of that mythical small town in France, who undergo a metamorphosis which leaves them with green skin, croaking voice and a large horn like bump on the nose. Simultaneously, they become more misanthropic and savage. Yet these aesthetic and moral monstrosities become the universally acceptable and desirable way to be. The contortionist is a conformist.


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