The good advice Lockheed Martin just didn't take
August 14, 2015 5:54 PM   Subscribe

"Ideally suited to mobilization on the shifting terrain of asymmetrical conflict, inherently covert, insidiously plastic, politically potent, irony offers rogue elements a volatile if often overlooked means by which to demoralize opponents and destabilize regimes. And yet, while major research resources have for forty years poured into the human sciences from the defense and intelligence community in an effort to gain control over the human capacity to lie (investments that led to the polygraph, sodium pentothal and its successor compounds, “brain fingerprinting” and associated neuro-physiological imaging techniques, etc.), we have no comparable tradition of sustained, empirical, applied investigation into irony."
posted by escabeche (23 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Big surprise there
posted by destro at 6:08 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is so beautiful, not least because of course it is ironic itself. Recursive, fractal irony.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:12 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hmmmm seems like they should have aimed to study satire.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 6:12 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Read the comments. Finally the French Regiment of Mimes gets the recognition it deserves.
posted by dazed_one at 6:22 PM on August 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

I like it. I've long suspected that Irony is an important circuit-breaker in the echo-chamber of zealous belief systems ... these days, by the time anyone gets to shouting about fatherlands and manifest destinies and purities of bodily fluids, the crowd's irony overload detectors go off and someone mutters "yes Brian, we're all individuals" and goes off to invent Quinoa Flakes and refuses to tell anyone whether they're meant to be ironic or not but they're $25 a packet so surely...

My point being: this is exactly the kind of research that the Western Civilization Memeplex should be engaging in, but we won't because it sounds like satire, which is ironic.
posted by nickzoic at 6:25 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

>If we don’t know how irony works, and we don’t know how it is used by the enemy, we cannot identify it.

posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:30 PM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't decide whether the fact that I got all the way to "non-lethal, or even lethal" before recognizing the nature of the proposal means that I'm dumb, or the world is horrible. (These statements are, of course, non-exclusive.)
posted by eotvos at 6:35 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sys Rq you filled my hovercraft with eels.
posted by vrakatar at 6:43 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure it is; if not, then it should be. It's a real thing that's really worth looking into. I mean, look at the Rosewater case. Look at Charlie Hebdo. Look at that FIFA guy defending himself with an Onion article. Irony really doesn't translate very well.

I mean, maybe the "enemy" business is a bit ridiculous. Disgusting, even. (Are your enemies making fun of you behind your back? The new Irony Detection and Elimination System™ from LOCKHEED MARTIN® will soon take care of that!) But still.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:48 PM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

The entire Western tradition is based on Socratic irony. Oh, the... well, you know.
posted by No Robots at 7:13 PM on August 14, 2015

From my personal experience working with LM as a contractor, I am pretty sure that they rip the covers off copies of Catch-22(at a cost to taxpayers of $97/book) and distribute them to new hires as employee handbooks. They would be be on the bleeding edge of weaponized irony.
posted by dudemanlives at 7:31 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

The good advice Lockheed Martin just didn't take

They're just a bunch of Mr. Play-It-Safes who are afraid to fly.
posted by straight at 8:11 PM on August 14, 2015

This really is a thing of beauty. I wish they hadn't namechecked "a modest proposal" in that caption at the top of the article though. Still, it's only a slight blemish on the gleaming, self-swallowing perfection of the thing.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:55 PM on August 14, 2015

Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what irony is?
Baldrick: Yes, it's like goldy and bronzy only it's made out of iron.
posted by storybored at 9:01 PM on August 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

There's this old Onion article, "Why Can't Anyone Tell I'm Wearing This Business Suit Ironically?" It's still relevant, but in the intervening years it's gone from being ahead of the curve to kinda on-the-nose, a little obvious.

The updated version I imagine is, like, some Millennial Air Force officer, all, like, Can't you tell I'm bombing this village ironically?

Now that I think of it, I guess I posted something kind of related.
posted by grobstein at 10:17 PM on August 14, 2015

This smells like another infamous product of Princeton U. researchers.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:24 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I see what they did there.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:09 AM on August 15, 2015

someone mutters "yes Brian, we're all individuals" and goes off to invent Quinoa Flakes

I think you mean quinoa-kale-hazelnut cupcakes.

They're organic, gluten-free, and dolphin-safe.
posted by Herodios at 5:02 AM on August 15, 2015

Nice to see a shout-out to JL Austin's "How To Do Things With Words" lectures here:

"There is thus reason to hope that, suitably tuned, refined, and charged, the irony of the future might be mobilized to 'stun' the enemy or possibly kill outright. This would be an extreme form of the sort of 'speech act' theorized by the English philosopher (and, significantly, Strategic Intelligence Service officer in MI6) J.L. Austin."

And then there's this:

"[T]here is reason to hope that biochemical or macrometabolic correlates will be discovered that would allow for lower cost and portable 'Irony Kits' (probably saliva-based, and likely making use of litmus-paper-like tabs) that could be counted on to identify ironic subjects or situations to an adequate first-order level of accuracy. The field value of such systems for military intelligence and domestic surveillance needs no elaboration.

Say no more.
posted by Herodios at 5:30 AM on August 15, 2015

The Nazis tried to use irony against Britain in WWII in their propaganda broadcasts, but could only synthesise sarcasm, which had an antagonistic effect.
posted by Devonian at 7:07 AM on August 15, 2015

I don't know. I read this and all I can think is: "the world burns and the elites make stupid little jokes.” It strikes me as smarmy, but than I haven't had coffee yet.
posted by Pembquist at 8:51 AM on August 15, 2015

I love you, Metafilter.
posted by infini at 10:39 AM on August 15, 2015

« Older Are you G'd up?   |   "Don't threaten me with a dead fish" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments