What Has Irony Done for us Lately?
April 24, 2019 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I believe—like religion—that the glimmer, the metaphor, if you will, knows a great deal more than I do. And if I stay out of its way, it will reveal itself to me. (A 2019 Pushcart Prize winner)

My colleagues are realists. They understand as far as the earth is concerned, we are way past game over. In recent years, our government has launched what Robert Redford and others have called the most sweeping legislative attack on our environment ever. The earth is lost, and all that’s left is to study the simulacrums, the Man Versus Wild Video Games and Survivor. To write a poem about the loveliness of a newly leafed out aspen grove or a hot August wind sweeping across prairie grass or the smell of the air after a three-day rain in the maple forest might be, at best so unconscionably naive, and at worst so much part of the problem, we might as well drive a Hummer and start voting Republican.
posted by mecran01 (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
This was beautiful and very heavy to read--thanks for the post.
posted by salt grass at 1:33 PM on April 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted; if you're having dark thoughts, it might be better to skip this essay, which is about death and similar topics, including death of a beloved pet. If you're having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone - there's a list of resources collected by fellow Mefites at the ThereIsHelp page.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:39 PM on April 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

It is hard to be ironic when your pasture erupts after an unexpected May blizzard into a blanket of wild iris.

It's not that hard. This lady sounds like a quitter!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:24 PM on April 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

your pasture


I suppose being able to skate this close to self-parody without cartwheeling right into it is what gets you a Pushcart these days. I feel both alienated and impressed.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:53 PM on April 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

MetaFilter: both alienated and impressed
posted by salt grass at 3:00 PM on April 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

The writing was lovely but I think her whole 'City folk don't appreciate nature like country folk' shtick is so so tired. It wasn't someone from the soulless metropolis of (checks notes) UC Davis that shot the elk and left the calf to die.
posted by iamnotangry at 3:38 PM on April 24, 2019 [9 favorites]

I kept Grace alive until she couldn't walk anymore, carrying her to the cat pan and letting her sleep beside me on bed wetting pads. Until I woke one morning and thought well, it's time to call the vet. Never having had the luxury of a home visit from the vet, I hated putting my cats down -- when they died, they died in terror.

And they call it 'putting to sleep,' when in fact it is execution by lethal injection. They would struggle in panic and then, snap, the light left their eyes.

I picked up the phone with her in my lap when she howled and then flipped up in the air in an enormous spasm, drew a breath and was gone. It was nowhere as pretty as this story but at least she died in my arms. Or so I tell myself.

It's been years and I have yet to let another cat in my life. She was the sweetest cat I have ever known.

We outlive our animals and that is so hard. That is all I can say at yhis moment.
posted by y2karl at 3:51 PM on April 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


See also
posted by y2karl at 5:58 PM on April 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

Weird. I thought it was self-parody until I read the comments here.
posted by Peach at 7:08 PM on April 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

For some reason I was able to read this today with any irony or easy dismissal. I can totally understand seeing this as self-parody, with the references to her 4-runner, Whole Foods, and a lifestyle that feels a bit like Sunset magazine. It was worth it (to me) to stick it out. I agree that we work so hard to not feel anything.
posted by mecran01 at 8:33 PM on April 24, 2019

I thought this was going to be another End of Irony piece. Instead, it was simply a non-ironic piece of writing. There is a lot of this out there, although perhaps not linked to much on Metafilter, which thrives on irony. So do I. No dis intended.

In literature, I often love the experimental, the eldritch, the fantastical, the ironic, the multi-layered, the sly, the magical, the fiercely political, the dark, the nearly-opaque, the Kafkaesque and the Borgesian. But a piece of writing with an unironic sense of place is a jewel. As is an essay about interspecies love. (I may not be what they call "a dog person," but I am a human empathic enough to understand the writer's love and pain.)
posted by kozad at 8:53 PM on April 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's a good Earth.
posted by otherchaz at 6:35 AM on April 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

This piece reminded me of those dreaded online recipes where you have to skip 20 paragraphs of self-aggrandizing pseudo sharing to get to the recipe. The real substance of the whole essay is at the end and I found it very meaningful. Wish she had omitted every instance of trying to prove her successful, eco-conscious academic lifestyle and just wrote about how we not only need to be fully present and open hearted during the death of a beloved pet but also how we need to do the same with our beautiful world even while we see it's destruction.
posted by SA456 at 5:08 PM on April 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

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