Irony and the Individual, part 1.

The entrance into what is not real is made by the significant event that distinguishes reality from the experience. Where reality is sufficient to account for the experience, there we have the individual, the one that refers itself to reality to justify experience. The experience of the event, that which allows for the experience, while of a real occurrence, by contrast, finds its necessity in irony. Irony is the accounting of what is not real in reality. What is truly not real, though, that which irony accounts for as well as what accounts for the irony, is found in the ironic experience, where reality is turned through discourse into what is not real, or and maybe where reality is exposed for its deficiency. Yet because reality functions to usurp all meaning for itself as the assertion of the individual, in the evidence of the common humanity, the ironic motion is likewise taken from its proper domain. Where what is not real does not reduce reality unto precepts that are not real, but rather brings the concept into existence through the real phenomenon, this taking by reality moves contrarily to reduce what is not real to what is real and places irony in its real diachronic meaning of attitude and era, of psychology and history; this is to say, faith in conventional reality takes of discourse what is otherwise true toward or for the One, as the discussion based in decision posits reconciliation, a grand reckoning of reality for the known and unknown. This reckoning is of transcendence, the finding of that which the discourse of reality indicates; the reckoning of what is otherwise seen as transcendence itself, is ironic. Irony is the contradistinction of transcendence, its indication, location and by this presentation, thus its annihilation. Similar to Michel Foucault’s archeology, the ironic endeavor could be said to be more a forensics, where an artifact is destroyed by the process that finds the truth of the artifact. Or, as some activists are advocating, recognition of limits not as limits per say, but as opportunities for acceptance, allows us to perhaps become a better, more humane or maybe more effective humanity. This essay presents the unrecognized and or denied limits of the proposed real conventional reconciliation, the move to what cannot be reconciled by conventional faith.


True significance is significance towards all; it cannot be removed by any sort of activity or applied consideration or problem solving. True significance demands that the action taken is necessary action; there is no thought that can escape its determination. No one can want something to be significant and have it be so; that very act of wanting keeps significance out of reach. A life that has true significance is a life that no one wants; everyone has faith but no one has faith that is significant.

A difficulty in framing such a situation has to do with willingness. In a manner of speaking, one must be open to possibility, and as a colloquial expression, having an open mind upon a topic means that one has a willingness to consider it. In consideration of irony and the real individual, oddly, this is where the difficulty arises, for one cannot be willing to go beyond what is real and have it be true. The more precise way of framing such a meaning is one cannot will oneself to get beyond reality; in fact, even remaining open minded to the possibility of getting beyond reality typically gets one only as far as something ‘more real’.

Concordant to this inability to get beyond reality, this limitation, and due to the overwhelming predominance of individuals who would otherwise wish to move beyond reality but cannot, discourse about the human condition has developed a rhetoric of accepting reality, of a proper route where one is not supposed to try to ‘escape’ from reality. This proposed method deals with symptoms as opposed to the disease; reality is triage asserted as diagnosis, treatment and cure. It is the default called convention that draws all unto the One through capitalization upon faith in the true object. Because the ‘disease’ is so ubiquitous to humanity, is so insistent and evident by the sheer number of human beings who persist in their problems, humanity has found its supposed ground of truth such that any proposal suggesting reality is not totally and absolutely true, is false, absolutely and finally. This is called the reduction of truth to the lowest common factor. By this reduction, then, what is highest is also what is determined by the proper method of reality, and this reveals reality as the greater truth unto itself, which is, the sacrificing of many for the exaltation of the few – and this is called the common effort of humanity, or just commonly known as humanity itself. What is ironic, offensively, has true significance, is commonly not wanted and not real, is the sacrificing of the one for the exaltation of the many.

To be explicit, the fault of typical readings of any idea is that the idea must include every human being, that exclusion is made by rights of the first order of inclusion, that anything produced by a human being is an offer that may be opt-out by another human being. The fault lay in the reduction that takes what is included as other to belong to the first person; the fault arises in the ordination of experience that is proper by the rule of the directive for reality. This first real mistake is to have already had the other upon which the first person derives primacy before the other is included to belong, and this is to say, to have reality by virtue of an other already situating what is true for the sake of the first person having his identity, for if indeed the other were taken in its primacy having already been situated then the individual would cease in its real estimation, and reality would be something else, something it is not; in other words, reality, tradition, history, etcetera, is the individual among others for the sake of itself. This is the mistake of the real individual.

What is missed in this type of reduction is that where the reduction fails there the person belongs to the discussion, this opposed to the upholding of the discussion that belongs to the first person; in belonging to the discussion one can consider only what may be common of humanity, for the discussion includes humanity, but where the discussion belongs to the first person as instigator of a part of the discussion, there also only part of what is human may be given, and so all the various parts must be discussed and negotiated for the possibility of the discussion’s truth as it applies to humanity or not. In the former, experience arises in sort as course, as the insistence of true experience, of true situations of objects; in the latter, reality insists the individual must make free choices and that truth is a relative subjective cause determined in negotiation with objects through situations that only arise contingent upon determinative choices. As we would have it, choice is the location for the denial of existential repetition, and spirituality is the progression implied by choice where the denial becomes invested in a transcending ‘reason’.


The pivotal position is irony. For itself, It is ‘of a fulcrum’, so to speak, it is ‘both’ meanings. So far as the discrepancy (for a rendition of what ‘discrepancy’ may indicate, see my essay, “The Big Story. An Aphilosophical Non-philosophical Philosophical Rendition): What is not ironic could be said to be ‘of the lever’, which is to say of an either/or condition. We live in reality, in the universe where every thing is negotiated. Like a see-saw or a doe-see-doe dance, the discussions about everything real, including the speculative discussions of imaginations, as well about what an individual is, including the ‘inner’ discussion that an individual has about him or her self to his or her self, ‘shift in weight’ based on contexts and evidence, proof, true and false, argument – all the things of the universe posed real and not real, rebutted and supported, dance around each other. At times one end is down and the other up, things makes sense that way and this way, at other times the partners have squared up, the dance hall appearing for a time to have settled into some thing more orderly and sensible, more true. But the dance continues; a promenade is called, and another sense, another truth appears. History might be said to be the dance itself, and the progress of history seen as the knowledge of the participants grows, as they each get around the apparently infinite patterns and partners and patterns of partners, truths appearing the first minute of the dance change as the participants learn and new configurations of truth appears, of partners and patterns are slowly seen and known. Eventually the dance hall is noticed, and the dance itself, moving and swinging with other dances, other ‘squares’ of dancers.

This is an analogy of the real universe, beyond which for itself nothing exists. It is a metaphor of everything known, knowable, of the beginning, past and present, future and the end. If there is something that is not known or is entirely or absolutely unknowable then it does not count, it is illegal, for there is nothing speculated or thought of, imagined or tangible that cannot be included in the real universe.

What may be indicated in real discourse, or conventional discourse, as it is indeed indicated, is something that is attainable in contrast to attained; it indicates exactly something transcendent. Here, transcendence is that of the dance that is not yet understood or acknowledged of the hoe-down; the key here is yet and of the dance, which is to say, of the dancers, of the moves, the steps, the patterns, etcetera. If it is a worldly or otherwise mundane object, such as a table, the transcendence is attained through the discussion of the real table, the thing, there, in itself, of its qualities, its construction, its uses. Through all talk about real things, all things discussed are likewise attainable, and this means, at least, that the veracity of any thing is verifiable as to its real truth. This is the default for reality, how it attains and retains its power over what is true; the ladder of the transcending path of objects toward the ‘end’ object, the object that is proposed through the discussion of totality that indicates all things, that holds the quality of transcendence, is knowable. Yet when transcendence itself is investigated, as if it is another object, and its quality realized, the meaning of the object known is not real, for the meaning of transcendence at least denies the presentation of its object. The power of reality is granted through a distancing of the transcendent, the object indicated in certain discourse and the quality of its quality, from the individual so they both remain a real, attainable, possible, thing.


So one could say that God began the dance or that even God is the dance, or that God made the rules of the dance. This can be a valid analogy; God began the dance, calls the dancing, people can choose not to fall into the callers move, some may make a mistake, but the dance continues, and some even sit down, but they come back in, and the proposed end of the dance can be seen as progressing along a certain Godly plan of calling. This is certainly plausible and is capable of accounting for the dance (and the see-sawing).

Irony is the fulcrum; the ’empty space’ around which the dancers move and the dance moves, maybe, the ‘axial’, but then we must be careful how we might situate an aggravating polemic within a holistic arena. In this way, perhaps, God may be the caller of the dance, but so much as he is calling it, there is the space that he is calling ‘negatively’. He is calling it by calling out the moves of the dancers, but in a way, the space he calls silently, and thus either ‘does not call the space’, and becomes a certain ‘real God’, or It ‘also calls the space’ and becomes something other than what God can mean for reality. The discussion and negotiation of the dance, the ‘calling’ and the dancing for its truth in reality, is reality. Yet contrary to what real transcendence would usually implicate, what is indicated is always the potential of the dance in the dancers and their moves that are the discussion as well as the participants, and not the empty space. Also at best, what is indicated by real discourse as an actual transcendent element (whether asserted or denied) is irony itself, but where irony (as above) is reduced to real meaning, where the experience is accounted for in and by reality, then the transcendent falls in place to mean that the empty space has been included in the discussion by implication. When this is understood, what else is there?

Maybe this is where the analogy falls short, or I can’t bring to mind to continue with it.


What else is there besides discussion and people? Animals and other things, planets, and quarks and bugs and gravity, God or gods, angels, spirits and energies? None of this arrives without people discussing them. There may be thoughts of the arrival but I challenge you to think of something without including discussions you’ve already had or think about having. Try to have a thought not link up with another thought and make sense out of it. Can you bring to mind a thought that does not have a corresponding concept with it? Can you still call it a thought? If you are utterly alone in the wilderness, from where do you get the notion that there is a thought? Is it self evident? From where do you get this idea?


Now, I am not immune or exempt from this reality. I am not giving the above analogy because it think it is fake or untrue. It can be real. The analogy can be a good metaphorical description of what happens in or for the universe. In fact, I am giving the analogy also to point out how anyone can have a reasonable conception that they can bring into the discussion of reality, of what is actually real, as any of such conceptions can include sensible beginnings and ends. And in fact, it is the negotiation of such conceptions that constitute reality.

It appears, though, to a person also who is not exempt from the functioning of consciousness, that consciousness makes meaning, and this is all it does. The individual arises or is placed in reality along such lines of meaning, but included in the meaning also lines punctuate, stratify and qualify meaning so that what is meaningful indicates that meaning is more meaningful than a mere operation of consciousness. The meaning here, though, meaning that has arisen after the fact of what can be called this ‘nihilistic’ meaning, what has been made in consideration of all the types of experience that can be had, meaningful, coincidental, spiritual, depressive, passionate, blessed, damned, loved, loving, sadness, joyful, hated, hating, curious, among so many others, experiences that have deep and significant meaning during the experiences themselves but also lasting, is far from nihilism – all of them ‘add up’ to seem to stem from some originating source, but when that source is investigated, nothing more occurs. There may be an idea of something more, but it is not some ‘greater’ meaning, no ‘more’ significance, there is only ‘continuing’ meaning, ‘the same’ significance. What is seen as ‘more’ significant is based in a suspension of resources, a ‘stalling’ of query, a positioning against which ‘more greater’ occurs, a position from which what may be infinite arises as a ‘reaching out’ where the limits of conceptual recourses have not been recognized, as opposed to what is a ‘being held out into’ what is already infinite. When meaning is taken as an indication of necessary route and recognition of path along beginnings and ends and suitable choices, the transcendent holds further investigation from breaching its proper meaningful domain.


We should note that when communicating (in English, at least; other languages have different orders for method) ‘I’ appears to foreshorten the ‘person’ in the reading. For there is a risk that is either offered or taken away depending upon particular methods in communication. When ‘one’ is placed, there follows a usual pronoun that the author must decide upon; do we write ‘he’ or ‘she’? Do we write ‘the person’? When we write ‘we’, how must we organize the sentence? If I say ‘I’, how does that effect the reading? Does the reader read it as speaking particularly of me, the author? What other readings can occur? Such questions should inform the reading to its proper meaning, as such questions have already been situated in the communication. The significant question is then: Have they been situated?


When the meaning of any situation appears to have repercussions, as I am ‘supposed to’ act in a particular way, perhaps as to the act of reading, or of communicating, and I do not behave exactly that, the meaning of failure reflects the meaning I had instilled by the ‘purposeful’ original directive; this resultant meaning then continues to have significant and residual effect until there comes another significant experience that seems to have the significance of ‘testing’ or ‘confronting’ the residing meaning. This occasion always either confirms the meaning, and thus the feeling of meaning ‘good’ or ‘right’ remains, or it denies it, and the significance of the meaning becomes greater in that its residence as the pervading meaning has been upset, such that now the meaning is set in a ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ significance. Likewise, when the ‘bad’ significance resides, an experience inevitably comes that tests that meaning, and the bad significance continues (what can be ‘more bad’? If it is significant, then it is still significant) or the ‘good’ brings its ‘greater’ significance. The significance of meaning in reality is always contained in this movement of juxtaposed meaning; the significance of meaning is always in relation to what may upset it, but there must have been a certain situation that has meaning in a particular fashion in order for the significance of the juxtaposed meaning to have meaning itself. This is not so much the ‘intent’ as it is ‘consistency’. The significance involved in knowing of this situation is that meaning has a capacity for having significance that is not conditioned by such tentative juxtapositioning of prevailing and encroaching meanings, that this last arena (what I have called the conventionally real arena, the ethical/universal arena) can ‘mean’ that it can be ‘set’ off, or aside, such that the significance for meaning is that it is capable of having meaning whereby significance loses its usual transitory and insubstantial quality for allowing meaning, and thereby the only ‘more significant’ or ‘true’ significance becomes that by which all resultant or subsequent meaning is made. By this, we have found what is truly significant, two absolute situations for meaning, what is real and not real.

To say that this meaning has a significance greater than the reality it has set aside is to say that the meaning itself is guided by some aspect that is ‘more than’ meaning, that is, has more meaning or contains or is able to emphasize certain ‘meaning-functions’ (or maybe even ‘truth-values’) over another, even to mean that it is ‘beyond’ meaning, as if there is a secret meaning-switch that opens up another area of ‘meaning making machinery’ that now allows things to ‘really’ mean more than the meaning that was being made prior to flipping the switch, as if now the meaning that was made prior was not as significant. But this is exactly the mode by which all real meaning is made, including that meaning which is thus not real.

[ An interesting aside: The real possibility involved with things when the knowing subject is reduced to its conventional absurdity concerns the effective object. Levi Bryant has written a book, (an most probably Harmann’s Object Oriented Ontology), that considers this; in an interesting turn, he calls such effective object ‘machines’. Please check out his interview at Of course one should note that his considerations take place and are firmly located on the conventional methodological stage, but his seems a nice compliment to the whole possibility involved in the absolute bifurcation (non-philosophical unilateral duality), as at least in one sense it appears the speculative realists comport themselves to have no qualms about securing their position in reality, that this reality can constitute a whole, and that within and against such whole their possibility can only be situated as speculative – even as reality itself is purely speculative. Quite ironic, to say the least. OOO would seem the natural and necessary result once there is an complete withdrawal of the human subject from reality… . ]

The move that is typically made, though, by those who come upon a great significance in conventional reality, in contrast to what has been ‘set aside’, is to avoid the redundancy by vesting the truth of the significant meaning into a motion of mediation. What is understood as being mediated is the knowledge gained by the juxtaposition of meanings, by the infinite loop that begins in reality, reaches through into some significance, and returns back to reality. But we have seen in the previous essay how this may not be the case; one ‘stays’ in the wilderness and the attempt to bring the one into the One fails for reality. Yet while the significance of mediation may indeed have to do with what is not real, its quality of being ‘not real’ is lost in reality, in the ‘greater’ significance, by the basis of such greater true knowledge stemming from the ground of reality and of coming upon a significance that moves the understanding to maybe make a reasoned ‘not real’, whereby, though, the reason, firmly established in reality, can only resort to its real bearings and thus posits theoretical moves of agency and activism based upon or inspired by some real transcendent force, whether it be understood as spiritual or mystical. Such a one has not encountered what must be ‘not real’ but has deduced it from real situations of meaning. Thus every motion involved with mediation must have real able to be activated consequences, and as this agent of reality seeks to mediate the transcendent clause (its meaning) into the universe, she must have a corresponding strategy to deal with such real consequences as the agent attempts to retain the greater significance of the inspiring ‘one’ through the ethical turmoil and general universal rejection; this I therefore term conventional faith.

The mediation thus is a suspension in a suspension; the meaning is disassociated experience from its base, all for the sake of justifying the transcendent or its quality, transcendence as well as its counterpart, the individual; transcendence all the while for reality, being what is not real. This suspension is not therefore ‘of the ethical’ teleologically, the reality of the universe has not been suspended, rather an ‘ethical suspension’ has, a sustained real universal teleology whereby meaning can diffract into relative meaning of real and not real – all the while remaining in reality; in effect, mediation is of reality suspended in truth, whereas truth is what suspends reality.

Here we have the irony of the question posed by Soren Kierkegaard, “Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical” (see his book, Fear and Trembling). There is such a suspension, but it does not need invoke a mediation; that is, except so far as we have not yet begun to speak of the actual ironic experience – Abraham could not speak of it, nor even theorize about it, being a ‘Knight of Faith’, because there is nothing to discuss about the situation, because what could be discussed was exactly, for real discussion, nothing to talk about, or, to put it in other terms, what could be talked about was not real, not conveyable in the current terms of reality – for the situation is as absurd to conventional reality as offensive to its faithful. As Kierkegaard tells us, what Abraham was going to do with Issac could not be reconciled to (real) ethics – for all other description and analysis ‘mediates’ the event, and yet not so much as we cannot but speak about it in the only way we do right now. In so much as there may be a mediation, though, we have moved ‘even farther away yet kept the distance’, which posits the quality of the eternal transcendent, the basis of reality. Again, Kierkegaard put it aptly; to paraphrase: If Abraham does not have faith then no one has faith; Abraham has faith, but no one has the faith of Abraham. I remove such a quality of experience from the conventional situation for which Kierkegaard witnessed a hopefully conveyable break, yet indeed has thereby showed us the way out is indeed despairing, for the sensibility that indicates is not necessarily sufficient to indicate the sensibility. The route is of total departure, and not a move of meaningful linkage, a move of apprehension (of dread) and not comprehension; it is a ‘leap’ that one cannot decide to make. Mediation upholds the possible linkage, it reifies and indeed argues the real distance it proposes to relieve by linking to the object of mediation put always before the fact, as if in an act of supplication, a lessening the humble messenger. But, with a nod to Plato, I believe, the message is the lesser; the significance which proposes the messenger become lesser is based in a conversion of the ‘more significant’ experience into a plea of real humility. The linkage is always after the fact, a posteriori; one cannot link to what comes after, the event is always prior to the linkage, it founds the linkage in fidelity. Fidelity is complicit with and thus reflective of the event; fidelity is not an act of hope, it is not a decision of faith. Fidelity is fidelity to the event, not a linkage to an object; it is significance toward all. Hence, Abraham’s faith is not conventional faith; so I may say, Abraham has no faith, because no one has the faith of Abraham.

* *

Readings related and of interest:

Martin Heidegger. “The Question
Concerning Technology”. 1954.

Soren Kierkegaard. “Fear and Trembling”; and, “The Sickness Unto Death”.

Alain Badiou. “Being and Event”.


    1. That guy is great. The manner in which he upholds humor and lightness about topics that are otherwise presented as quite serious is refreshing. Some of what he writes is just plain silly also.

    2. FYI: the next post will actually be part 2 of ‘individual and irony’. The one that I will repost your narrative will be after that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s