Saturday, January 20, 2007

Zappa and Fuller as Rortian Ironists

Two candidates for Rortian ironist status: Frank Zappa and Buckminster Fuller. Each invented an idiosyncratic vocabulary. Neither is the exemplar of a genre. Zappa defied the status of genre exemplar not (only) by creating an eccentric self-referential, self-consistent oeuvre—the project/object characterized by conceptual continuity and xenochrony—but also by mastering genres and then enlisting them and commanding them as words within a personal (musical) vocabulary. The Rortian ironist need not invent (need not be a modernist), but can practice irony through montage and collage (be a postmodernist, the corresponding method in that context being pastiche).

Fuller is a somewhat different type of ironist that seems nearer Rorty’s intended meaning. A uniquely singular visionary. In this regard, Fuller seems to anticipate Rorty and challenge the extreme to which Rortians are willing to go to celebrate ironism. The dude was out there with his unique vision and vocabulary, but it smells so strongly of a metaphysic that Rortians will be reaching for clothespins. “Did you get a whiff of that?”