“Dissipating the fog of irony”

I continue to write about Christy Wampole’s New York Times article on “How to Live without Irony,” which I consider really important.”  To catch up on the conversation, read my two prior blogposts, and then come back here.

Wampole wrote:

Where can we find other examples of nonironic living? What does it look like? Nonironic models include very young children, elderly people, deeply religious people, people with severe mental or physical disabilities, people who have suffered, and those from economically or politically challenged places where seriousness is the governing state of mind. My friend Robert Pogue Harrison put it this way in a recent conversation: “Wherever the real imposes itself, it tends to dissipate the fogs of irony.” (bold mine)

Observe a 4-year-old child going through her daily life. You will not find the slightest bit of irony in her behavior. She has not, so to speak, taken on the veil of irony. She likes what she likes and declares it without dissimulation. She is not particularly conscious of the scrutiny of others. She does not hide behind indirect language….

I love this, love, love, love it. I too agree that “wherever the real imposes itself, it tends to dissipate the fogs of irony.” I’m a huge believer in telling what is, and one reason is that it dissipates even more than the “fogs of irony.” It also wipes out the possibility of people continuing to believe the lie that they are the only ones who ________ (you fill in the blank, for anything fits).

When we feel less alone, we are less defensive and more openhearted towards others. We can afford to be.

Children attract people with their candor, and those who have suffered are magnets for others because we know, if even only subconsciously, that they will be havens of safety, comforting where they have been comforted.

2 thoughts on ““Dissipating the fog of irony”


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this article- and for writing about it! Not only was it heartfelt and true, it also exposes how jaded and closed so many of us have become over time. Those safe havens are truly spaces where we all can learn and remember that life is meant to be spent with our hearts fully open instead of covered with layers like clothes in winter. Thanks!


  2. Beautifully said, Betsy: “our hearts fully open instead of covered with layers like clothes in winter.” Wouldn’t that feel great (and scary)?

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