Sunday, May 24, 2009

Irony + David Foster Wallace

Full disclosure: I've never read anything by DFW. I have a few friends who are huge fans. The quote below is from this New Yorker article:
"His goal had been to show readers how to live a fulfilled, meaningful life. Wallace’s desire [was] to write 'morally passionate, passionately moral fiction.' The default for Wallace would have been irony - the prevailing tone of his generation. But, as Wallace saw it, irony could critique but it couldn’t nourish or redeem."
The reason I post this is because I had a weird thing happen at summer conference this year that to me proves that irony is the "prevailing tone" of generation Y as well. Several of my students asked me if we could all get together and talk about the out of control irony and sarcasm that goes on among students in our group. A couple quotes that came out of our discussion: "We never really get to know each other because there are walls of irony separating us from each other"....and... "people coming into our group probably think 'these people love being together and know how to have fun but don't really know each other AT ALL.'" Of course it made my stomach turn because I feel like I have spoon fed sarcasm to our students, mostly because I'm scared to know them or be known by them.

We read 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and had a wonderful time of particular repentance among our students, especially our seniors, and I was left thinking: this should have happened a long time ago and I'm a moron for not picking up on it sooner. It felt nourishing and redemptive. I mentioned to one of our students: doesn't it make your soul come alive to imagine actually letting someone know you?

If only I had the courage to believe the gospel myself!