In other words: Earnest. Sincere. Pompous. Grave. Boring. Complacent. Smug. Self-righteous.
An attitude that grows grim & deadens levity for the sake of values that cannot – and ought not – be questioned, much less put in the context that does not assume them or take them for granted. Seriousness is the first & fatal step towards dogmatism of any type, along with hypocrisy and pretense that’s always found hand in hand with politics or religion — those ideological sinkholes of petty bullshit.
A serious person takes the obvious false step in a comedy or a satire. At best, being serious locks you in as a straight man in the joke and at worst, end up as the punchline of the joke. Being serious is little more than shackling yourself to a position and throwing away the key, robbing yourself all room to maneuver and room for flexibility to adapt to the changing situation.
All seriousness of intent & purpose rest on arbitrary foundations, and is quickly subverted by irony, parody, black humor, or wit. Irreverence leaves room for discussion or interpretation and tolerates varying degrees of conviction — as opposed to “my truth is better than yours” logic.
Bottom line: a life of play, parody, irony and simulation is just as important as a serious one, if not more so.
2 thoughts on “New Seven Deadly Vices: Seriousness”
Your bottom line implies a series life can still be important. Surely you mean some serious aspects of life?
Seriousness is often a character trait, and even more often it is used (wrongly or otherwise; in moderation or otherwise; successfully or otherwise) as part of a means to an end. This said, it is often seen as a problem by many societies when seriousness is repeatedly subverted to the point of impeding social development or advancement (rites of passage often require a dampening or reining in of "play").
Perhaps it can be argued that seriousness has its place, as does facetiousness; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, while all play and no work makes Jack a homeless man. Being serious is rather far removed from being a prude (#4), deliberately inducing boredom (#7), or even constituting a particular form of self-deception (#6), though it can occasionally take such forms.
The purpose of a comedy is to make light of anything (or everything) in its scope — obviously one such target is the serious individual and his ideals, and he is inevitably subverted; the subversion itself often comprises the foundation of the joke and occasionally its punchline.
The very beginning of the post directly establishes seriousness, sincerity, and earnestness as the counterparts to either hubris and deadened complacency. This is itself something of a non-sequitur in its own right, as by no logical leap does one necessarily imply the other.
Also, I assume you mean stimulation, not "simulation" — goodness knows Baudrillard makes his living dissecting the central prevalence of simulacra in post-structuralist societies…
Surely you mean some serious aspects of life?
That comes nearer to the point I was driving at, but phrased it poorly. Thanks.
While it is true that both aspects seriousness and facetiousness do have their place, I feel that seriousness has become a malignant presence that I had to over-compensate and emphasize its antithesis.
These series of vignettes on the deadly vices were meant to be broadly accessible, so I tried to avoid dense philosophical language, but perhaps I didn't do a good job here enough to leave it vulnerable to criticism, such as your charge of non-sequitur.
Going back to the chief insights of Heraclitus and Buddha: it is not just the case that nobody can step in the same river twice. Not even the same person can do that in the first place. Therefore, we and the river are both in flux. The implication of reality and self as flux is to develop a strategy of irony in order to cope in our self-deceptive & self-destructive society. The use of irony shows how little and ridiculously unimportant we really are, and as we realize this truth we laugh. Playfulness is recommended in the face of any society that buys into its own seriousness.
Also, I assume you mean stimulation, not "simulation"…
While stimulation could work, I did intend simulation (but hopefully not in the Baudrilliard sense) given our modern society's fascination with video games and computer graphics that render a more "real" than real environment. Realism is but one last moan of our fetish with seriousness.