Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kids these days - on irony and loving what you love

This article in The Awl about embarrassment at one's previous taste in books makes me want to stab somebody. In case you're too goddamn lazy to click a link and skim a few paragraphs, the gist is they ask a bunch of moderately famous people what book they cringe to remember they loved.

My wife is friends with a couple of people who are like this. There's a constant stream of apology for enthusiasm and a winking cynicism towards even the most mundane of pronouncements, as if to stem the criticism they know they deserve for being so bold as to have an opinion about something. The problem with having an opinion, btw, is the inevitable retraction you have to issue when it turns out that your opinion was wrong, or that your tastes were underdeveloped, or that you were simply immature.

Wait! It turns out you never have to apologize for the things you love. The world is difficult enough without having to second-guess yourself for what you enjoy.

There are an entire section of people I know who do everything ironically, and I'm sick of it. I repudiate irony. And not in an ironic way, either. I renounce it. I deny it. Love what you love, please! Look with forgiveness upon the folly (if it indeed can be called folly) of your youth. We do not condemn the child who stumbles and weaves as he learns how to walk. We don't fault the kid who likes candy just because he can't appreciate a spicy chili, a good beer, or a stinky cheese.

Love is the only thing that really teaches us anything. What we enjoy in youth is a stepping stone to future pleasure and knowledge.

As John Crowley says, "What makes us happy, makes us wise." Don't miss the chance at wisdom by short-circuiting joy now.

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