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May 23, 2005 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Dozens of MeFi posts finally explained. How can I replace the batteries when I don't even have a meter?
posted by bashos_frog (48 comments total)

 
<sarcasm>

you know you want to...
posted by bashos_frog at 2:23 PM on May 23, 2005


well, *that* sure was interesting.

(sorry, no really, it was)
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:30 PM on May 23, 2005


Yeah, that's going help people.

(Sorry, no, it really might.)
posted by eriko at 2:34 PM on May 23, 2005


I don't get it.
posted by billysumday at 2:34 PM on May 23, 2005


"Are you being sarcastic, man?

I don't even know anymore."
posted by stenseng at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2005


I must be missing a part of my brain, because I don't get the thing about the batteries.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:36 PM on May 23, 2005


"people with damage to a specific area known as the ventromedial area had the most trouble deciphering sarcasm."
Wouldn't familiarity with the attitude of the Mefite posting be a factor in recognizing sarcasm? Expecting recognition of e.g., the political orientation of each of the 24031 possible posters by each of the 24031 possible readers is unrealistic.
Could someone invent an icon to denote sarcasm?
posted by Cranberry at 2:37 PM on May 23, 2005


I wonder how hard it was to solicit subjects for this:

Want to participate in a study on people who can't detect sarcasm? No! Really! We need controls! I'm not being sarcastic, I swear. Come back!
posted by phrontist at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2005


i have the perfect icon to denote sarcasm.

thx for your help dude. |:} . . . or maybe that should be the icon for smarmy.
posted by nola at 2:43 PM on May 23, 2005


Oh, a sarcasm dectector. That's a real useful invention.
posted by dios at 2:45 PM on May 23, 2005


NO DUH
posted by Mach5 at 2:47 PM on May 23, 2005


detector explodes
posted by anthill at 2:48 PM on May 23, 2005


I don't get it.

Wait, are you serious? I'm really asking, and am not being sarcastic.
posted by Specklet at 2:48 PM on May 23, 2005


This is such a good post.
posted by fungible at 2:51 PM on May 23, 2005


Oh, I'm not being sarcastic! Nooo! This is just a little speech impediment. I can't help it!
posted by antron at 2:52 PM on May 23, 2005


Yeah, this will explain all kinds of posts on MeFi .
What... It will.
Wonderful. Now every post in this thread reads as sarcastic.
Whatever. Great post.
No, really.

Damn Gen X'ers.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:55 PM on May 23, 2005


They didn't mention it, but I wonder if this will shed any light on autistic disorders, which also involve a lack of empathy and inability to understand the nuances of language? Hmm.
posted by emjaybee at 2:55 PM on May 23, 2005


My mother-in-law cannot detect even the tiniest trace of sarcasm in even the most obviously impossible statements. My wife once said of some coworkers that "When the sun comes out, they all take off their shirts -- and they all weigh about twelve pounds." To which she responds: "THEY WEIGH TWELVE POUNDS? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?"

She also cannot, absolutely cannot, tell when a conversation does not include her. You can talk in a low murmur with someone else, across the room from her, and she'll say "beg pardon?" It's spooky.

She cannot figure out the intent behind what other people do. In the semi-rural community we live in, one house has a "deaf child area" sign posted by the county, on the street. She saw this, said: "Is that a joke?" Later, on passing a local restaurant that sells buffalo burgers and has a phony street sign reading "buffalo crossing," she says, helplessly, "Alright, are they serious?"

People who have met her have sometimes wondered if she's mildly retarded, but she's not -- she's very bright and capable in some areas. But I've long believed she has a tough spot at just the wrong place in her brain and cannot figure out subtext. It gives her a great deal of anxiety. I think she has come to understand that other people know what stuff is supposed to mean, but she just can't figure it out.

So, my point being: yes. Or something.
posted by argybarg at 2:55 PM on May 23, 2005


I don't get it.

Wait, are you serious? I'm really asking, and am not being sarcastic.
posted by Specklet at 2:48 PM PST on May 23 [!]


|:}
posted by billysumday at 2:57 PM on May 23, 2005


Hmm, I went to Padres vs. Braves game a week ago, and I kept telling my mother that the weird green donkey-like mascot for the Braves was an Indian. She didn't believe me.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:01 PM on May 23, 2005


i hate sarcasm.
posted by ackeber at 3:20 PM on May 23, 2005


though i cannot at this time participate in your study on sarcasm, i eagerly await my subscription to your newsletter.
posted by quonsar at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2005


Whatever happened to that idea of "The New Sincerity" or whatever?
posted by bitpart at 3:26 PM on May 23, 2005


Whatev.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2005


I thought the problem with sarcasm detection was solved years ago by Saturday Night Live with the coining of the standardized verbal addendum: "...NOT!"

this such a good post... NOT!

that's a real useful invention... NOT!

this will explain all kinds of posts on MeFi... NOT!

i eagerly await my subscription to your newsletter... NOT!

I hate sarcasm... NOT!

Of course, we have to make the use of "...NOT!" mandatory, which should be no problem to enforce





... NOT!
posted by wendell at 3:56 PM on May 23, 2005


This has been posted at least 4 times before.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:26 PM on May 23, 2005


I never get tired of sarcasm.
posted by hojoki at 4:32 PM on May 23, 2005


Does it explain why the posts here nearly mirror those on Slashdot?
posted by Saddo at 4:34 PM on May 23, 2005


I don't know, but it certainly explains my in-laws.
posted by youarejustalittleant at 4:45 PM on May 23, 2005


Someone has to make the obligatory objection about the confusion of sarcasm and irony, right?

it seems to me that the kind of neural deficiency described in this article makes it tough to figure out subtext, roots people in a tiresome literalness that must make much of the cultural environment in which they are forced to exist seem awfully confusing. but that doesn't mean they have a _sarcasm_ deficiency in particular.

yes. death to sarcasm. sarcasm is a defensive gesture that robs us of the possibility of the authentic. sarcasm makes it uncool to believe in something, to feel something, to want something. sarcasm is the daily-life equivalent of the literary pitfall of 'cleverness'. sarcasm is easy and if there was a way i could turn off my sensor to it (and my production mechanism) then i would pay on the installment plan for whatever the gizmo is.

but irony. irony is something different. irony allows for contingent identities and overdetermined meanings and multiply layered codings of signifiers and collaborative authorship and the tragic acknowledgment that meaning is interpreted, not produced. irony allows us to mean things freshly and differently by subverting the untenable claim that the meaning is up to us to begin with. it is an aestheticization of discourse that rescues the possibility of the poetic by obliterating the myth of the literal.

it is this interpretive deficiency which should be mourned in the folks described in the link, while sarcasm should be given a speedy, crooked burial.
posted by milkman at 6:57 PM on May 23, 2005


Milkman, are you being facetious?
posted by joedharma at 7:12 PM on May 23, 2005


That was insightful, milkman. We'll all consider it, very carefully.
posted by fungible at 7:16 PM on May 23, 2005


argybarg: Is it possible that your mother-in-law has Asperger's syndrome?
posted by elvolio at 7:31 PM on May 23, 2005


People who put irony in the same category as sarcasm -- i.e. a voluntary means of conveying an idea through the expression of an apparently contrary idea -- have no idea what irony is. The simple story is that you can't "be ironic" or "act ironic" on purpose. Irony is dependent on the actor being ignorant of a key fact in the situation at hand. There's more to it of course, but this lack of knowledge is what makes a situation/action ironic.

Anyway, since it's now been established that there IS a part of the brain responsible for detecting sarcasm, does that mean that when someone doesn't get my jokes I can say without a hint of, er, sarcasm that there IS something wrong with him/her?
posted by clevershark at 8:41 PM on May 23, 2005


argybarg writes "she's very bright and capable in some areas."

You know, people don't usually say that about people they REALLY consider to be "bright and capable".
posted by clevershark at 8:57 PM on May 23, 2005


Sarcasm aside, prefrontal damage causes all sorts of deficits, only one of which is the inability to detect subtext or comprehend subtle meanings. People with large prefrontal lesions typically perform poorly at most tasks involving significant cognitive effort. So talking about a sarcasm part of the brain is a little disingenuous. It's kind of like knocking out your car's engine and saying you've found the 60 mile-per-hour part of the car, because your car no longer does 60 on the highway without it.
posted by heavy water at 9:16 PM on May 23, 2005


clevershark, that's just not true.
Irony is a literary trope. it can be, and is, employed deliberately.
i am not arguing for the alanis morisette version, or the popular gen x version (which is mostly just sarcasm). but you most definitely intend irony.
posted by milkman at 11:41 PM on May 23, 2005


Oh. Maybe my prefrontals are half-busted: I can do sarcasm myself, but I often don't pick it up when others do it.
posted by davy at 11:53 PM on May 23, 2005


You can "be ironic on purpose" when you wear clothes that have traditionally been deemed uncool, but you subvert their status by wearing them to be cool.

Wait, I mean

Gosh, Einstein, I can't think of a way to "be ironic on purpose." Certainly not when you wear clothes that have traditionally been deemed uncool, but you subvert their status by wearing them to be cool.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:20 AM on May 24, 2005


there's actually a pretty good wikipedia entry about the various definitions of irony.

i suppose i could be convinced that sarcasm is a particular kind of irony.
posted by milkman at 1:09 AM on May 24, 2005


Oh no. Now they might start looking into ways to turn it off. Before you know it, sarcasm will be a lost art and we'll all be shiny happy people with chips in our heads.
posted by deusdiabolus at 3:00 AM on May 24, 2005


¡
posted by sveskemus at 3:43 AM on May 24, 2005


Even within the language itself, it enjoys low repute. Wit sparkles; sarcasm invariably drips.

Sarcasm seems to be a favored tool of the young or the not very clever. Also of the very certain. All attitude, no inventiveness, and dreadfully easy.

The question I have is, what are the earliest examples, and why is it so prevalent now? Leonard Rossiter wrote a book on it (thank you milkman, thank you wikipedia), mostly a compendium, but does any one know of something more substantial?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:33 AM on May 24, 2005


clevershark wrote: The simple story is that you can't "be ironic" or "act ironic" on purpose. Irony is dependent on the actor being ignorant of a key fact in the situation at hand.

clevershark would appear to be describing dramatic irony but clearly thinking that it's the only or "true" irony, and moreover he has used his misapprehension of the term to attempt to position himself as intellectually superior to those who recognize that dramatic irony isn't the only kind of irony, which is itself ironic - and in close to the dramatic sense he means. And it's made doubly so by the fact that he has "clever" in his username.

Wheras this post, which is spelling out its literal meaning at some length, is deeply unironic. Intentionally so. Unless it's kind of meant to be an ironic adoption of quasi-academic discourse as a way to subtly mock the notion of having a straightforward discussion of the myriad uses of irony.

*beat*

*head assplodes*

Oh, the exploding-head stage direction - what a brilliant finale to this tremendously illuminating post.

*head really assplodes*

"I don't get it. Did his head assplode or not?"

"Whose head?"

"Would either of you like to participate in a study at the University of Haifa?"

posted by gompa at 6:15 AM on May 24, 2005


Irony is a bit like jazz. If you have to ask, you didn't get it...which of course feeds back on itself...
Sarcasm is more obvious, but there are places where they clearly intersect.
For example a linguistics professor was attempting to teach his class
something about the rules of grammar.

"In English," he said, "a double-negative forms a positive. But in other languages, such as Russian, a double-negative is still a negative."

Looking down his nose at the class, he continued:
"However, there is no language wherein a double-positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the classroom interrupted.
"Yeah, right."
posted by Smedleyman at 8:24 AM on May 24, 2005


"brain-damaged people can't comprehend sarcasm"

Well, this explains my world.
posted by ancientgower at 9:29 AM on May 24, 2005


Wait. Wait. Wait.

Sarcasm is not irony nor is it a particular type of irony. Though a sarcastic comment can be ironic, it does not need to be to be considered sarcasm.

I can say something like "You're wearing a that to the prom?" in a clearly sarcastic manner. There's no irony involved.

Sarcasm is about ridicule. Its etymology has to do with the tearing of flesh.

Irony is about a clash of meanings, where one level of reading (say, the "literal") is contradicted by another (say, the "implied"). Dramatic irony, as a subset of irony proper, involves a character not comprehending the true implications of his/her actions or words; the literal reading of his/her words/actions is at odds with the result or meaning that we the audience know those words/actions will produce.
posted by nobody at 9:42 AM on May 24, 2005


There's a wikipedia entry for sarcasm too. To quote therefrom:

"The term is often misused as a synonym for irony. Irony refers however to the literal meaning and the intended meaning of the words uttered being different, while sarcasm refers to the mocking intent of the utterance. It is possible to be ironic without being sarcastic, and to be sarcastic without being ironic."

Now, about those casualties....
posted by davy at 5:28 PM on May 24, 2005


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