Irony

Irony and Anarchy in TLR

The decline of terms regarding anarchism is due to Margaret Anderson's determination to no longer "preach" the tenets of anarchy.  She confesses that she was naive to think anarchism could actually happen and iniate social changes.  This confession sounds defeated, but I don't think she loses her interest in anarchism.  

Anderson's sense of anarchism superficially change to something more similar to individualism.  For her, anarchy was always about individual enlightenment and improvement.  She never lost sight of the need for this and often explains this same concept whenever she talks about being bored with conventionalities.  Her early attachment to anarchy was due to anarchy's close relationship to individuality and non-conformity.  She later develops her own understanding of individuality that continues the same concept that first drew her to anarchism.  Emma Goldman, a famous anarchist, first attracted Anderson to anarchism and their relationship eventually fell apart as Anderson became more focused on "Art," and more specifically form.  

This article, which actually predates the first link, claims that anarchism and art are connected by the same motivating principles.  Although she later admits that anarchism cannot instigate change, it seems that she has just transfered her energies from propagandizing anarchism to focusing on the aesthetic form that anarchy should take: irony.  This explains the n-gram of The Little Review that visualizes the decline of anarchy-terms and the rise, or at least spikes, in the usage of irony.

The Words Trend graph provides an easy way to locate the uses of irony that occur in these two spikes.  I would have to read these volumes to find their specific usage and context, but that's much easier than reading through the entire run start to finish.  I had read most of The Little Review on the MJP for another class and chose these terms to see how accurately they matched my own thesis.  I marked TLR 4.4 as the last issue to really approach anarchy directly and Voyant tools seems to agree.  

I will need to read these volumes that mention irony more than the others to get a better sense of how TLR envisioned the political registers of this aesthetic.    

Anarchy and Irony in TLR

I've been working on a project in which I'm hoping to show how Margaret Anderson used irony as an aesthetic register of her anarchism.  I am trying to show that she contributed significantly to the type of difficult irony in modernism, the kind that cannot be resolved without sacrificing another equally plausible perspective.  One example of this difficult irony is the conclusion of The Waste Land​, where nobody is really sure if it rains or not.  I used Voyant tools to show me what it could find when I searched the terms "anarchism, anarchy, anarchist, irony, and ironic."  

 

This "Word Trends" graph shows that anarchism faded from the magazine's interests just as irony began to spike.  The spike in "irony" wasn't sustained, though.  There are a few possibilities for this, I think.  Irony doesn't explicitly call itself out, which means it would evade Voyant tools's word search.  So, it's possible that irony had a constant presence throughout TLR's run.  The spike, however, suggests that some writers were talking about it explicitly perhaps as a form.  I think the drop in anarchy-terms and the two spikes in irony-terms shows the magazine shifting its interest from explicit politics to form, an implicitly anarchic form.  

 

This visual collator graph shows that "ironic" only connects to "anarchist" through "tale."  This isn't necessarily a strong bond, but it does show at least some connection between anarchy, irony, and (fictional) writing.  Also, some of the clusters reveal more connections.  Irony connects to style, ironic connects to experiment, anarchists connects to rhetoric, and anarchism connects to art. Anarchy links with laughter, which might relate to Wyndham Lewis's concept of "corrosive laughter."  I think this quick analysis of TLR begins to develop some of the links between anarchy and irony.

Opposing Factors: Network Graphs and the Themes of Joyce and Eliot

While I was toggling between filters on Gephi, I found the most interesting information to be the sort of "over-arching" themes of Joyce and Eliot.  When you select the filter "Eliot,"  the words "immortality" and "aesthetics,"  and the words "death" and "religion," oppose each other on the graph.  Alternatively, using the "Joyce" filter, the graph formulated creates a triangle of "irony," "greatness," and "mediocrity."  

By looking at how these words are related to one another, comparing Joyce and Eliot, one can "read" the major concerns, and the interior conflicts, of their work.  For Eliot, he is concerned with each of the four terms described, but he is also interested in their relationships.  He wonders, in many of his poems, if aesthetics are immortal, and he wonders if religion is dead.  Further, can his aesthetics immortalize him, and can the lack of religion, or too much religion, kill?  

With Joyce, it seems that the irony of his own greatness is his exposure of mediocrity, especially in Bloom's life.  OR, that the irony of life is that everything great is truly mediocre and vice versa.  Perhaps, because this data is subjective, this is more of a reading of individual students' readings of the work, but it nevertheless indicates to some degree the message that these works create.