In which we discuss swag, irony, Dave Strider, Friends, quantum physics and cutting-edge philosophy.
It has appeared clearly that irony and sarcasm have become ever so important in modern communication. Most of us have grown to embrace poor quality media and like it “ironically“. My guess regarding the cause of this is that this products are so omnipresent, that everything is so shitty that the only choice our brain has to comprehend reality is to find shelter in denial and laughter, especially since the contrast between what is and what could be is so strong. As French philosopher Didier Super puts it “better laugh about it than not care”. But hey it’s just a wild guess and I’m not here to discuss it.
What I want to talk about is the point the aptly named Danisnotonfire in his video “ironic appreciation”, in which he shares his concerns about the blurring of the line between ironic appreciation and real appreciation, because, in the end, liking ironically is still liking somehow.
Hence rises a neverending debate about irony and quality appreciation, in which the “serious” and “ironic” kind of likings are diametrically opposed and collide with violence, since the thing you like ironically represents the very opposite of the quality that you’re supposed to like.
But never fear, I am here to put your existential crisis at rest using the beloved tools of modern philosophy. Fair warning, this is going to be of course oversimplified and weird, but it’s going to be fun ^.^
Sooo… first things first. Logical reasoning has always been based on Aristotle’s law of excluded middle (principium tertii exclusi in swaggy) stating that basically a proposition can be either true or false (in which case its negation is true) and that’s it. And it was all good and well until quantum physics came along and we faced things whose nature was undetermined before observation: they were neither this nor that but kinda both. That was the motivation for a new kind of logical reasoning proposed by Stephane Lupasco called “included middle” (unofficial translation, his works have not been widely discussed in standard yet. I’m such a hipster).
That’s the part where I butcher his theory with a cool philosophical development. His point was that a concept carries within itself its negation (and it kinda makes sense, think about it, the definition of the negation is held within the concept, in the same way that you can’t define light without shadow). And thereby, it’s not the original concept anymore, it’s something more : the concept + its negation, a third all-inclusive entity.
I had a great professor who used to explain this with this little thought experiment. Take the abstract absolute concept of Everything. It contains everything, by definition. It even contains itself, and the opposite of Everything. Thereby ending up in a kinda schizophrenic position of being both the container and what’s contained, exhibiting a plural nature. Anyway this very plural nature is important in quantum physics, but it’s also widely used in argumentation. It’s basically what you do during a school essay where you present arguments, counter arguments and synthesis. A true/false dialectic is most of the time simplistic and the real world is more nuanced and plural. But enough with philosophical theories. Back to swag.
Swag is a great example to me because it’s the very essence of poor quality and ridicule (it’s the perfect name for that concept tbh). So yes, to the untrained eye, swag is bad. Like really really bad.
And to the second level, you can appreciate it ironically embracing its badness. But instead of Dan’s existential crisis, I would like to propose a synthetic resolution based on Lupasco’s theories. Far from denying any of those two levels, let’s consider a third level embracing the other two. Because in the same way that Everything contains its opposite, so to Badness contains Goodness : in order to like something ironically you have to admit it’s good in its badness and thereby a success at something. In fact, the total opposition of the two sides of swag and their widely spread reconciliation may make it an ideal candidate to embody this plural concept of absolute, in a word, God (cf swag as the holy word, swag as the holy spirit, swag as transcendence of Logos…).
Swag isn’t bad or good, it’s the complex interaction between the two, the quantum superposition of disgust and liking, and in the same way that Lupasco’s opened the door towards a new school of philosophy, swag can open the door to a new form of appreciation, based on the complete embrace of the plural and complex nature of reality.