Wednesday, November 28, 2007


One thing I try to discuss here on this blog is irony. In his essay The Curtain, Milan Kundera forwards the hypothesis that irony officially began with Cervantes' work The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha. The novel some consider the first modern comedy shows the absurdity of a man intent on claiming a heroic life for himself. Cervantes employs many modern techniques throughout the novel. For example, much of the humor from the book comes from Cervantes acknowledging the reader and the absurdity of the romantic lifestyle of a knight.

While a complete discussion of Don Quixote lies entirely outside my reach, I'd like to say irony in the book serves the purpose of popping the unnecessary seriousness of life. Don Quixote, for example, was so wrapped up in his attempts to be a knight he drove himself to insanity. I believe Cervantes used irony and modern comedy to illustrate the ultimate danger of taking oneself too seriously and, by doing so, rejecting the beauty of ordinary, average life.

Irony, in my opinion, currently saturates our younger generations. It's difficult to seriously discuss altruistic or idealistic ideas without a caveat ("I know this sounds dumb, but..." or "This may be naive, but..."). A modern technique birthed by Cervantes to embolden everyday life has instead disemboweled it, creating, in my opinion, the post-modern world--an apathetic, hollow world where depression and inauthenticity feast on the tidbits of genuineness and honest expression.

With the proliferation of the internet, handheld camcorders and inexpensive digital sound recorders (among other technology), we have been able to turn our focus away from dry, ironic commentary (in my opinion, everything labeled hipster) or dramatic misrepresentational escapist media (24 comes to mind) and more towards an honest look at everyday life.

YouTube, Google or blogs (such as this one) can serve the purpose of genuine expression along with building meaningful communities with individuals of similar interests. The internet can also become an overwhelming echo chamber, removing all relativity and causing the individual to either refuse the institution or experience it with the instinctual defense mechanism of irony.

Then, sometimes, infrequently, RARELY, the web world gets a new denizen. Like the ignorant cheerleader from the slasher films who drags her football fuck-buddy into a dark cabin, these individuals coming into the internet world sometimes have no idea what horrific digital massacre can possibly occur to those people who try to be themselves in our supposedly open community. I mean, just ask the Star Wars kid. the individual who made "Leave Britney Alone!"

It's my pleasure to introduce one of the newest figures in the internet community: ALEXYSS K. TYLOR, minister in the Universal Brotherhood Congregation, motivational speaker and host/producer/originator of the the Alexyss Tylor Show broadcast on People TV in Atlanta, GA.

"Vagina Power"

In an age where basic cable seems near-comatose, Ms. Tylor has embraced the medium of Public Access Television. Due to the 1984 Cable Franchise Policy and Communications Act, any local organization is eligible not only for airtime, but also training in the technology and equipment needed to produce their own television show. Ms. Tylor, accompanied by her mother, uses her time to discuss issues of male/female sexual and relationship dynamics.

I was first introduced to the Alexyss Tylor Show by my roommate. It was unclear whether or not it was supposed to be humorous or serious. Kind of like Trapped in the Closet, I figured it was probably a combination of both.

I mean, I think she's a powerful, self-made woman calling it like she sees it. It doesn't seem as though she uses notes (although the editing may be responsible for creating that illusion). It's important to note she does not hate on men, as this note from her website shows:

The Alexyss Tylor Show new time is starting January 29, 2007 Monday at 7pm-8pm on Comcast ch.25 People TV Atlanta. Thank You for watching and supporting ME!!! Vagina Power!!! Thank You men you are doing such a great JOB I am so proud of you Penis Power!!!

Her raw power reminds me of Cody Chesnutt's The Headphone Masterpiece:

This book Is dedicated to MY GUURRLLLSSS(GIRLS) all around the world standing in Vagina Power and to the ones that are being groomed through your circumstances to Stand in Vagina Power!!! It's a story about my life in my own words. Now don't expect something fancy from Ya Southern Gurl! You know I couldn't afford to go out and get some paid actor to read MY LIFE!!!


There are some drawbacks to Ms. Tylor's energy. For example, she seems to be a religious conservative on such issues like abortion. In one of her episodes, she concludes with showing "cute" baby gear (including a SpongeBob umbrella) and talks about the aborted child who will never experience the innocent cuteness. I think she also might not be down with gay people.

Below are some selected videos, although she has her own YouTube channel (one week old) with over 25 videos. According to her MySpace page, her YouTube account has surprisingly been cancelled. Okay, I just found it.

"Black Pussy"

"Warning to Gay Boys"

"Dick Will Make You Slap Somebody

More on her website...PWR!!!111!!1111!!

[UPDATE: Thanks to Sal and T, I replaced The Star Wars Kid reference with the frustrated individual who created "Leave Britney Alone!"]


thomas said...

I believe, contrary to your point in the fourth paragraph, that the internet and other easily accessed sources of information (a term not to be confused with "facts") has been integral in the rise of the sarcastic and ironic persona of which you speak.

The largest benefits of the internet (from here on, the stand in term for the available technology you referenced) are its organic nature and relative lack of hierarchy. Anyone can start a website, anyone can comment on any article or video. Yesterday’s pundit is today’s guy on a couch in Illinois. It’s a terrific equalizer. Nevertheless, that communal nature is also the internet’s great weakness. That is, there is no structure, no editing, and no hierarchy of opinion to put “truth” above “lies”. A truly honest answer is hard to come by. There is nothing wrong with everyone having an opinion and writing or blogging or posting a video (I was upset too when people wouldn’t leave Brit alone.), but when opinion is blended with fact, a black and white (or even gray) issue is jettisoned from a mostly objective world into one of subjectivity.

Now, as I see it, irony is basically a lack of an opinion. An ironic statement dislikes its object (“Nice sweater, idiot.”) but basically is a hedged opinion that through its vague nature and ambiguity is oftentimes seen as charming and funny (“yeah, I don’t like your sweater, but I’m not sure if I really don’t like that color, or maybe I’m jealous because I’m cold, or maybe I’m making the point about global warming because it’s 65 in December?”).

The internet, cable news, etc. with a plethora of (conflicting) opinions leaves one who is desperate to make up their own mind a bit lost. Especially in the realm of the news blog (See Glenn Greenwald’s account about his emails with Col. S. Boylan, the military’s top spokesman in Iraq and the subsequent right-wing discounting effort:, there is so much back and forth, it is becoming harder and harder to definitively find the nugget of truth. With so much information available, there is (or should be) an onus on the modern person to sift through at least some portion of the internet in search of this nugget. With no filter, that search can be momentous, which has led to the rise of the default state of safe, equivocal irony.

Coogan said...

I believe, contrary to your point in the fourth paragraph, that the internet and other easily accessed sources of information (a term not to be confused with "facts") has been integral in the rise of the sarcastic and ironic persona of which you speak.

Well, part of the assumption in the posting is that irony itself is not a contemporary phenomenon. It can be traced back to Cervantes in the early 1600s. I actually think this is safe to safe, literature-wise, irony has much deeper roots than the internet.

It seems to me the technique used in Don Quixote we now call irony was actually used to destroy hierarchy as well. Many people refer to it as the first modern comedy because it calls people out on romantic, what we would see as perhaps belligerent idealism, tendencies.

Now, as I see it, irony is basically a lack of an opinion.


there is so much back and forth, it is becoming harder and harder to definitively find the nugget of truth. With so much information available, there is (or should be) an onus on the modern person to sift through at least some portion of the internet in search of this nugget.

To me, Cervantes pointed out the flaw in every unjust power dyanmic (war, institutional racism, interpersonal physical violence): it is the frustration of a vain search for that nugget of Truth. In my opinion, such a Truth does not exist, since our realities and perceptions of the world are shaped, essentially, by the subjective view. Those who do advocate a Universal Truth usually do so in the name of war, jingoistic nationalism or egoistic benefit.

I believe the reason people object to the idea of no objective Truth existing (for example, people on the streets of Berkeley saying I'm a squishy liberal because I don't believe in Universal Truth) is because it places the onus on the individual to find meaningful, subjective truth. It's a lowercase "t" truth because there's nothing dramatic or romantic about it. In my opinion, our duty is to find the meaning of our own lives even if that means leading what would objectively be perceived as a mundane existence.

thomas said...

I certainly do not debate the point that irony in some form is not a new phenomenon. I suppose what I'm getting at is irony in it's modern iteration (marked by "Depression and inauthenticity") is not feasting soley on honest expression, but is also a reaction to the glut of dishonest expression that is rampant in the technological age: opinion-tinged truths that shroud answers to non-metaphysical questions like "Were there WMDs?", "Who told on Valerie Plame?", or in the case of the Glenn Greenwald story, "Who sent these emails?"

That segways right into the second point of your response. Where, then, do answers to the questions above (especially the last 2...I realize that the answer to the first one may border on telepathy to determine whether or not GWB/Colin Powell/Rumsfield actually thought that there were WMDs...but then again, a memo to the effect of "We're going in, weapons or no," would be pretty damning not to mention ) belong in your dichotomy or Truth or truth?

Coogan said...

This is where ambiguity raises its awful head.

There's an empirical difference between talking about a talk show and discussing war. However, in my opinion, many people consider them on equal footing. Therefore when you ask the pertinent and necessary question of "Where there WMDs?" the obvious answer is a big ole NO. Who leaked the name of Valerie Plame? According to former Secretary of Press Scott McClellan, "Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself."

Now, the President said he would fire anybody first associated, then anyone convicted of a crime involving the Plame leak. Not only did he not do that, but he actually pardoned Scooter Libby, who was tried by the normal court procedures.

The same people who shun value of the subjective cultural discussion (e.g. "Gay individuals cannot serve in the military because they're different") take the same abstract quality and try to dodge the bullet when it comes to being able to quantifying a situation (Hypothesis: We should start a war because there are WMDs in Iraq. Conclusion: There are obviously no WMDs in Iraq, but they may be in Iran) and refuse to apologize for the subjective biases or pressures that led to making such a terrible mistake.