Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sarcasm, Irony, Being Sardonic.

Is it possible to identify a predisposition for using sarcasm, being sardonic, or the ability to appreciate irony, from a natal chart? Astrologers tend to point to Scorpio and Mars in particular when writing about this. Mercury has to be closely involved too, as we're considering styles of communication. I'm not a fan of sarcastic humour, it usually aims to hurt, mock or offend another person. "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit" was a warning drummed into me from an early age. Even so, it's almost impossible to stifle a guffaw at some of the satire (based on sarcasm and irony) aimed at any political or celebrity figures I happen to dislike. I have to admit, too, that I have been known to make the odd sarcastic remark.

Irony, in general, is not as deliberately hurtful as sarcasm, it has no target, it just happens. A situation can be perceived as ironic without anyone saying a word. It occurs when the exact opposite of reality is conveyed by deed or situation, or sometimes by word.

Sarcasm, sardonicism and irony are not-so-distant cousins. I like the explanation of the differences from Spindle Works Here's a brief extract:
Irony and sarcasm are not the same. An ironic word is born; a sarcastic one is made. Irony is expressed spontaneously; sarcasm can reflect upon its words. Irony sees the caricature and expresses it simply. Sarcasm sees the caricature too, and passionately reinforces it........ One is gripped by irony, but one grasps at sarcasm........Irony is the strength of the weak; sarcasm is the weakness of the strong.

And from Alpha Dictionary

Sarcasm implies a derision explicitly intended to hurt or offend someone.
Sardonicism implies a cynical derision expressed either verbally or facially with no necessary intent to offend or cause emotional distress.
Irony comes from an amusingly provocative disparity between any two seemingly incompatible things, expressed to amuse rather than to offend.

Sardonic remarks often follow ambiguous statements: “Joe is an unusual wit,” said Fred. “That’s true,” Marge remarked sardonically.”
Sarcasm hurts: “Murray’s marriage proposal received a sarcastic, ‘Ask me again if you return from the dead’ from Eloise.”
Irony comes from odd coincidences we bump into in life: “I just love the irony of Lois, the daughter of an obstetrician, marrying Ferdie, whose father is a mortician!”

I guess that one needs to have particular mental wiring to appreciate the irony in a situation. That same mental wiring may also be capable of bringing forth sarcasm, and a tendency to be sardonic.

I can see why astrologers would suspect that aspects involving edgy Scorpio and belligerent Mars might be significant factors to look for if trying to identify a tendency towards sarcasm in a natal chart. I suspect that alignments of hard-nosed Saturn with Mercury could also be involved, or any emphasis in critical Virgo. Capricorn seems to match sardonicism in particular. People with heavy Capricorn in their charts do have that very dry sense of humour, akin to sardonicism. The whole chart must be considered of course, not forgetting that background and family also play an important part. The kind of role models and teachers a person had in youth, who he/she has tried to emulate, as well as social background - these should be borne in mind along with the astrology.
Humor does not include sarcasm, invalid irony, sardonicism, innuendo, or any other form of cruelty. When these things are raised to a high point they can become wit, but unlike the French and the English, we have not been much good at wit since the days of Benjamin Franklin.
(James Thurber, USA.)

(Edited/updated version of a post from 2007)


AstroFix said...

I'm sarcastic, and yes I have those placements:

Sun, Venus and Mercury in Aries in the 8th house. Scorpio on the 3rd cusp. Mercury quintile Mars. Mars square Pluto.

I like sarcastic humor, but I agree with you that, "it usually aims to hurt, mock or offend another person." Because of that, I learned to keep it to a bare minimum. It's no fun hurting other people's feelings.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if you have seen any correlation between a sense of humor (exclusive of the mordant wit covered in this post) and close aspects, particularly the square and opposition, of Jupiter to Mercury? I am viviennegrainger at gee male daught com.

Twilight said...

AstroFix ~~ Hi!

Yes, I think we every one of us has traits which are less than admirable, so have to be reined in at times for the sake of others.
When we do so we feel good and! So they're not all bad, when well-trained. :-)

Twilight said...

Anonymous (Vivienne) Hi there!

Hmmmm - well sense of humor is such a wide area with many facets it's not easy to pinpoint any kind of alignment which always
indicates a sense of humor. There are so many other parts of the chart that might counteract what would otherwise be a good indication of natural humor.

If I had to pick out a particular planet I'd say Jupiter is the obvious one related to humor, yes, and Mercury in helpful aspect - though square and opposition aren't thought to be too helpful in general. But as long as the two are in close aspect I think some kind of humour is probably indicated, if all other chart factors have been taken into consideration.

I ususally look for aspects to Uranus too - Uranus has that quirky unexpectedness that often accompanies humor and a quick wit.

There's a post in my archives on this topic, by the way:

Wisewebwoman said...

I love irony but abhor sarcasm which always seems so cruel to me.
I like your definitions.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thanks. Yes, irony is (kind of) the opposite of synchronicity, both as fascinating to observe. :-)

Out The Comet's Ass said...

Hi Twilight. These are interesting descriptions. Sometimes I can be a little sarcastic I guess (a little). It's just direct and to the point and you let the other person be hurt or angry out in the open. I think that irony can be just as biting and much more difficult to stand up against because it's not directly offensive. The person walks off and later on realizes that you've made a fool out of him. I mean, I don't because I'm not smart enough to pull it off, but I'm thinking about the comedienne Wanda Sykes. Usually I love her humor and am amazed by how she can be so biting in an underhanded kind of way. Lots of people in my Pluto in Virgo generation aspire to do that. It's too snyde (sp?).

Twilight said...

Out the Comet's Ass ~~~ Hi there!

You know, I think so much depends on how well we know the target of our sarcasm. It can be used among close buddies without any damage at all, because they all understand it's done without malice and for laughs. At its worst, though, it's done with intentional malice, and I always think that if we want to really hit a point home, direct confrontation is better - but takes more courage.

Irony, of the type that we make (rather than the type that "just happens") is more subtle and quite often goes right over t'other person's head, I find.

I like Wanda Sykes, though I have to strain to her what she's saying at times - she has a way of speaking without opening her mouth sufficiently - or something like that. But she IS very funny.