“What doubt is for science,” wrote the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), “that is irony for personal life.” But in the social debate, irony soon leads to indifference. And Kierkegaard knew that too. The ironist makes everything a joke and takes nothing seriously anymore, “in order to save himself.”
In our polarized and ridiculed debate culture, Kierkegaard’s warning applies more than ever. While world leaders play with bombs and grenades, the media entertainment industry runs on jokes and bloopers of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, who are liked and shared with ironic emoticons and jolly gifs.
In this witty and moving essay Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer wonders whether irony and satire can still be critical weapons against the unbearable lightness of the debate.