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Genersation UI - for Jacob

Ary Coach

You're just a stupid fucking man in a really shit band

(Pink Eye Club)

The other day we were at a concert somewhere in Brixton (London). Over the course of the evening different musicians performed, for example a singer in a glittery dress or such a loud band that the whole audience had to cover their ears. Another musician called himself Pink Eye Club. If I had to describe his music, it would be like this: He screams lyrics - wearing an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt - over self-produced disco beats. I was immediately taken with it, dancing and singing along to catchy choruses: Suicidal in a rural town or Disco is my religion.

Pink Eye Club sometimes stood around on stage as if rooted to the spot or stared at random people while bellowing out the lyrics. When someone approached him after the concert, he just looked at the ground. It's this tension, maybe tenseness, that makes him such a good performer, I thought admiringly.

You seemed like a nice guy

But then you turned out to be a Nazi

(Pink Eye Club)

Later that evening, as we were roaming around in another part of town, pretending to be a band and typing lyrics into our cell phones, I praised Pink Eye Club's music and performance to the skies. Only one person, you, the youngest of the group, had doubts about whether the music was any good. But it's funny, I protested, and the lyrics are good. Hmm, you replied.

So I had to say to you: Jacob, it's because you're too young to understand irony!

A person peers at the camera over glasses counting a small pile of money at a tabel lit with a candle standing in an empty wine bottle
Pink Eye Club counts the meager winnings from the concert that evening, photo credit: Jacob

It has to be said: I have a lot of admiration for the youth in our society. They have a greater political-ecological awareness than my peers, feel - quite rightly! - that they have no desire to work themselves into a burn-out, and are doing away with binary systems as a matter of course. Binarity is even questioned so radically that the double-edge of the ironic, the opposite of the actual, no longer seems to make sense and thus no longer seems to generate a joke.

One could say that in the face of a collapsing world, perhaps there is not - or should no longer be - more time or space for irony. But one could also say: The young simply don't need to be ironic anymore while my peers and I have learned to meet injustice armed only with a sneering tone, keeping leaving a path to escape open with covert mockery instead of facing the crises seriously. Perhaps irony was, and even is a revolt against adapting to the world, which today seems somehow outmoded.

But, I lectured, someone who doesn't know irony, also doesn't know self-irony, takes himself totally seriously, while you smiled politely and patiently, but completely unironically. Self-irony as a manifestation of the fragility of oneself and thus also of the other. Only through and with irony towards ourselves do we wrestle the harsh reality down for a moment, I ranted on.

Everybody's lives

Well, seems so much better than mine

(Pink Eye Club)

Pink Eye Club is about your age, by the way. He probably doesn't mean his music ironically, but in complete seriousness. Probably it doesn't even matter, because it's my ironic look (or my ironic ear) that makes me particularly like his songs.

Now we wrapped up our discussion, which - come to think of it - had been very one-sided, entering a pub where we stepped onto a stage to play with air instruments and a playback band. The audience (actually the pub was empty) was predominantly younger people and our performance was either not noticed at all or taken seriously in all its absurdity - but certainly not read ironically.