An identity crisis

I have been told that despite my blog’s subtitle (at the time of this posting: “Sarcasm served up daily”) I am not, in fact, sarcastic.

In the email, the writer (who may identify himself if he chooses) pondered whether I’m ironic, sardonic, caustic, or sarcastic.  He said sometimes I’m ironic or sardonic, but I seldom rise to the level of true sarcasm.

He speculates that Americans have no understanding of true sarcasm. He may be correct.

My self-image has at its heart an idea of myself as a cynic. I grew up in New York, had a highly-developed sense of misanthropy, and communicated mainly in sarcastic remarks by the time I was about…oh, nine?  I don’t remember.

Maybe I’ve grown out of that now? I can’t tell.  I still think of myself as sarcastic, but sometimes our self-image remains rooted while the reality has drifted sideways. My first weblog entries were kind of sarcastic, if I remember correctly, and I changed my “unclassified” category to “sarcasm.”

It’s also possible that I remain as sarcastic as ever, only I don’t put it into type as often. Maybe like all rude people, I save the worst for my nearest and dearest.

Here’s the problem: if my subtitle is “Sarcasm served up daily,” and yet I’m neither sarcastic nor posting daily (as this week, where I’ve been sick and only posted a few times) can I really keep that as my subtitle? I’m sure Madison Avenue would say “Irony that borders on the sardonic served up a few times a week” doesn’t have that snappy ring to it, though.

What do you guys think? Sarcastic or not? Change the subtitle or not?


  1. Kaci

    The other option is someone’s just trying to razz you for the attention provided by way of a blog entry dedicated to said person. 0=)

    1. Ken Rolph

      If I wanted public attention I would have just posted in the comment boc. But since Jane has seen fit to post my private comments publicly I should clarify. I think Jane may be sarcastic inside the American context, but not outside it.

      There is a set of words about the gap between what is said and what is meant. Ironic, sardonic, sarcastic, caustic. That set forms a scale of increasing nastiness. The exact level of nastiness doesn’t match between cultures. I would say that Jane had only managed to achieve bring sardonic. That’s a black enough humour.

      Americans are such nice people that the scale of nastiness is muted. In a society where people wear their holstered guns into Starbucks I can imagine that it doesn’t pay to be too snippy, expecially to strangers.

      Cynicism is slightly different, although it often uses sarcasm as its form of expression. I will accept that Jane is a cynic, as it seems are some of her readers. Probably me too. The current state of Western civilisation would seem to require any serious person to develop some form of cynicism as a defence.

      We might say, “I am like this”, but the world is big enough now that there are people who will say, “No, you’re not”. I don’t know exactly what we do with that.

      1. philangelus

        Ken, I didn’t out you and really, your private comments stayed private except for how they affected me.

        I’m not sure Americans are nice as much as repressed, which explains why Hollywood puts out the films it does: because in the absence of legitimate means of expressing our darker sides, we need to do it vicariously.

  2. Illya

    If you believe that you have outgrown the subtitle, then change it and don’t be afraid of change–not that you ever have been terrified of “the new”. AS the guy says in “Crossing Delancy” — one of my favorite feeel good movies- get yourself a new hat!

  3. blueraindrop

    though…. if its neither sarcastic nor daily… in a way, the subtitle could be read in a sarcastic way.

  4. Patient Husband

    Maybe like Tom Servo, you can just get the sarcasti-meter turned up temporarily.

  5. Judy

    You could just consider a goal! Something to aspire to. 🙂

  6. Gary Corby

    I’m not the source of that mysterious email, but you’re not sarcastic!

  7. philangelus

    I’m heartbroken, guys. I need to take a good long look in the mirror and say something sarcastic.

    In all fairness, I’m very sarcastic over at MyOBsaidWHAT?!? but there I think the situation demands sarcasm. Maybe on the blog it’s just not called-for enough?

    We’re pending a new subtitle, though. Truth in advertising requires as much.

  8. Kaci

    I kinda like the new one.

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  10. Anna

    I’ve always read the subtitle sarcastically.