Manifesto

Click here to read an explainer pamphlet that describes the philosophy of The Earnestness Movement.

This pamphlet has been designed with the utmost care, so it is strongly suggested that you consume it in this format!

However, if you prefer, the *gasp* unformatted text is below:

 

 

 

 

 

EARNESTNESS:

A TRACT ON THE IMPORTANCE AND DIFFICULTY

OF EMBODYING SUCH A PRIZED QUALITY

IN OUR MODERN WORLD

BY BRIANNA GOLDBERG

 

An Argument

Sarcasm, irony, and disingenuous self-deprecation—this is the hegemony of cultural discourse in 2010. The lure of ironic detachment is a powerful temptation indeed: As a behavioural attitude, irony allows us to distance ourselves from the thoughts, comments, and/or aesthetics we express by self-consciously mocking them.

It is a simple and effective way to protect our fragile egos. Sarcasm, etc., suggests that we do not truly mean what we say, and therefore can never be held accountable for having an idea or feeling that is—well—stupid. A relief for the user of irony. A burden for those on the receiving end of such negativity-tainted messages.

To entertain such an inherently negative approach to life is tolerable in small doses. For much of the 20th century, irony was synonymous with small countercultural movements (ie; the Beats). Irony was there. It was significant. But it worked in counterpoint to the reign of Earnest Living.

However, lately, irony has reached a critical mass. In newspapers, blogs, magazines, concert stages, fashion runways—and especially Twitter—a Behavioural Cynicism has hijacked our cultural conversation. Its pistol is loaded with negativity and needless snarkiness… and its trigger is pulled by the fear of being perceived as stupid. In other words, our world is held hostage by a regime of Inauthentic Living.

This inauthentic ironic tone is one sought by editors/executives/those who control the means of creative dissemination. It is touted by writers/designers/musicians/producers of content. And as both anxiously grope towards their supposed ideal of a detached and ironic commentary, they collectively reach towards NOTHING (since their approach to living does not produce anything authentic). They are revelling in all things dark and quirky and cutting—and empty. And so, authentic cultural conversation withers.

Yes, the Rule of Irony has GONE TOO FAR. Navigating and charting new courses through Canada`s cultural landscape has become less and less bearable for those of us who are attempting to live a strong and authentic life… attempting to be creative in a way that comes from the naive and creative self within. To be ironic is to betray the self. To be earnest is to be the self. This is the motivation behind the Earnestness Movement.

 

A CLARIFICATION

TYPES OF IRONY WE ENDORSE

Dramatic Irony = OK! (When the audience knows something the characters do not)

 
Situational Irony = OK! (A discrepancy between the expected result of an experience and the actual results… enlivened by ‘perverse appropriateness’)

 
Comic irony = OK! (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice begins with the proposition “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” In fact, it soon becomes clear that Austen means the opposite: women—or their mothers— are always in search of, and desperately on the lookout for, a rich single man to make a husband. The irony deepens as the story promotes such a fellow’s romance and ends in a double wedding.)

 
Structural Irony = OK! (When a story is interrupted to remind the audience or reader that it is really only a story, i.e. Tristam Shandy)

 
TYPES OF IRONY WE CONDEMN

Cold-hearted Sarcasm, Snarkiness = NOT OK!

Cynicism = NOT OK!

Unfriendliness = NOT OK!

Disingenuous self-deprecation/self-denial = NOT OK!

BEHAVIOURAL IRONY AT LARGE = NOT OK!

* Thanks to the editors at Wikipedia for providing a practical typology of Ironies. Some of the definitions are directly lifted

 


SOME EXAMPLES

In General:

Folk Music
Theatre
Poetry
Genuinely conceived and executed art of all kinds
Public Broadcasting
Politics
Ice Skating
Activism– When genuinely motivated by a cause… not just posturing
The Olympics
Board Games
Desserts
All things excellent, which demand their maker(s) put feelings/heart/etc out into the world

Specific Heroes of Earnestness:
The Dalai Lama
Pete Seeger
Oprah (Katrina Onstad wrote an article about this in Chatelaine, Feb ’10)
Audrey Hepburn
Julia Child
The Muppets
Charlie Brown
Anne of Green Gables
K’naan
Sarah Harmer
The now-disbanded Moxy Fruvous
JK Rowling
Torquil Campbell of Stars
Jesse Thorn
… and many, many more.

* Please note that just because someone or something is Earnest does not mean that the author really loves it/him/her. In fact, she really hates playing board games… and generally can’t stand watching figure skating. But they are Earnest, and for that, she salutes them.

 

PARTING THOUGHTS

1. Irony is, in Kierkegaard’s words, “infinite, absolute negativity.”

2. “A Sneer is the weapon of the weak.” – James Russell Lowell (18th Century Romantic Poet)
FYI: The Romantics are a really good example of Earnest Living

3. To join the Earnestness Movement, and to learn about our upcoming event featuring music, comedy, and guest speakers, please join our Facebook group (The Earnestness Movement) or contact TheEarnestnessMovement over at gmail. And please feel free to share this pamphlet with like–minded individuals who might also like to join us.

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One Response to “Manifesto”

  1. Steven Pacifico May 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Great work Brianna. Love it!

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