LASKY: Of being ironic?
KOO: Yeah. As you’re writing that poem, are you thinking, Wow, I’m really
fucking with people now! Was that always the intention, or is there a part
of you that does hate irony, but at the same, you kind of like it still?
LASKY: I hate that I’m answering “both,” but yeah, I think both. There
was a part of me writing that particular poem that was like, Irony does
not get to the heart of the matter here. You can’t really be ironic about
the fact that we’re in these weird fleshy things, and what are we supposed
to do for 100 years? You have to deal with that. Being ironic every single
second, which I saw as the modus operandi of some poems, is not getting to what the point is. But at the same time, it’s obviously ironic to
write a poem like that.
KOO: People often read “The New Sincerity” as a restorative movement
away from postmodernist irony and cynicism and back to true feeling,
self-expression—this “truth” of feeling or self-expression is assumed sentimentally to be a good, healthy thing. But what Black Life seems to
suggest is that this “truth” can actually be scary and creepy—and that
is why we cling to the deflection of irony and cynicism. Would you say
LASKY: I think true self-expression is horrific, because you’re gonna get
anything out of it. Pure self-expression is insane, and these poems are
not self-expression. I guess it’s a good thing that people sense “The New
Sincerity” as moving away from cynicism and irony, but I would caution
against just being reactionary or naïve about this. There’s nothing wrong
with cynicism. I don’t think people writing under “The New Sincerity”
are just reacting against cynicism and irony, but that by itself is going to
be a problem because then you’re just doing everything opposite. You
have to take the lessons of postmodernism, which we’re probably still in.
There’s nothing wrong with postmodernism; and there’s more than just