Cynicism Is An Excuse Of The greatest Magnitude | Teen Ink

Cynicism Is An Excuse Of The greatest Magnitude

March 13, 2019
By Anonymous

Cynicism is an excuse

Of the greatest magnitude.


Take a fine powder of mistrust

Pinch it along surfaces flat and ribbed

Stuff it into dirty, hidden, difficult crevices

A white too blinding to peak into occult reality


Put on your shoes and spread mud on the soles

Bright sun and harsh people are obscuring your soul

Relentless arrows of dark mist lodge deep in dead skin

Intangible forces you contrived from within


Unrendered walls of looming fear and deference

Reschedule your pain, it’s been caught in the currents

Overnight you became a vampire

And now the garlic outside is an obstacle


So shatter the glass and make a cut in your thumb

Feel physical death in coursing streams

No more projected rocks or salty seaweed

To tie a knot ’round your third ankle

Break from the backwards searching that hail marys boulders forward

Expose your wounds and do not mind

The harsh touch of the wind

Of course don’t lodge with them

But they don’t belong in a bin


Feel your ridges and flat surfaces beneath an expanse of humid sky

Notice they are there — if you’re asked, explain why

And offer your own bandage

To the wounds of strangers, friends

The pulsing blood does not situate you above or beneath

Hordes of angry men

That red equalizer is too similar

To let cynicism win.


Carry an authentic flame

Raise it to chameleon sky

Gently stand against serrated weather

Unabashed, infect us with your cry

The author's comments:

TL;DR The irony and cynicism of postmodernism has become unhealthy and needs to be put to rest. It is no longer used as a productive means of progress, but as an excuse to avoid positive change.

While he was still alive, David Foster Wallace championed a movement in response to postmodernism. He believed that the incessant irony and cynicism of postmodernism was corrosive and unproductive to American culture, and I agree with many of his points. At their best, cynicism, irony, and their other world-weary cousins serve two main beneficial purposes.

First, they can be vehicles for simple, easy entertainment. DFW was quickest to point this out in television, where TV shows repeatedly break the fourth wall to humorously criticize themselves. Shows like South Park, Family Guy, Seinfield, and many others are full of jokes that actively deride their own medium. And for many, these jokes are hilarious. Helpful, even. Poking fun at one's own flaws can be wholesome and revelatory — it can expose real issues that need to be addressed. But due to television's high-volume, rapid, and commercialized nature, the viewers who watch these shows most often are also the least likely to act on any realization this irony might confer. Instead, they simply keep watching, thereby letting networks know that this kind of humor sells. Writers begin to employ it more often not as a means of combatting cultural and institutional problems, but as a vocational crutch until eventually the stuff inundates the popular consciousness and slips in unnoticed as "culture." At this point, postmodernism stops serving its purpose as a signal of cutlural problems — it becomes the problem. And that is the point we have reached. I am not arguing that irony, and even healthy suspicion should be entirely effaced as modes of entertainment. I am arguing that at this point in time, they have been overused to the point of becoming unproductive tropes, and therefore should be used more deliberately.

The other main use of cynicism, irony, and the like is as a way to establish interpersonal connections through a feeling of shared hopelessness or disillusionment. If a Sikh man is invited to give a speech at a political rally or on a late-night talk show and he makes a cynical statement about how problematic it is that Americans label Sikhs as terrorists, then he has just voiced a concern that other Americans might have. Other Americans may have felt alone in their concern, especially without a powerful public figure who shared their beliefs. When people in marginalized groups recognize their mutually discounted nature, there is a meatier foundation upon which relationships and change can form. However, the cynicism and irony of postmodernism has developed to the point that it is not helpful in the same way. It is marred with an unfounded distrust in the general idea of government and other people without taking into account the varied nature of individuals and government organizations. What began as a movement targeting specific governmental groups and ideologies following World War II has become perverted into a blind, uninformed attack on "the Man" without even knowing who "the Man" is.

This brings me to a central point I'd like to make. Cynicism and irony have their uses, for sure. But on the whole, they destroy without ensuring any way of rebuilding, and many of their forms are simply destructive exercises meant to display some sort of clever insight into the hopeless, fallen nature of the world. New ideas and new forms of progress occaisionally need time to exist before they can be evaluated soberly. Cynicism and irony, when overused, shred new ideas to pieces and leave behind a philosophical vacuum that will eventually be filled by force. When every structure is being incessantly toppled without allowing time for anything new to be seriously built, we come to question the very land it is built upon. And unfortunately, we don't have a second planet to serve as foundation.

Similar Articles


This article has 4 comments.

on Apr. 27 at 7:49 pm
lhatcher123 BRONZE, Dover, Delaware
1 article 0 photos 11 comments
This is amazing much better than most of what is on this site

ankiagoya said...
on Apr. 27 at 7:45 pm
ankiagoya, Phoenix, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
This took my breath away. I really agree with what you have to say

on Mar. 16 at 4:54 pm
TobiasEliot DIAMOND, San Diego, California
53 articles 0 photos 59 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul." -Pablo Neruda

That's not to say it's not a good poem, because it is.

on Mar. 16 at 4:53 pm
TobiasEliot DIAMOND, San Diego, California
53 articles 0 photos 59 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul." -Pablo Neruda

Did you just stick your freaking ethics essay in the Author Comments section? That seems like overkill to me.

Smith Summer

Parkland Speaks