In a bid to make my apartment look a little less like a serial killer lives there, I have purchased a number of framed posters. I’m pretty happy with most of them. I do have a Trainspotting poster up (just like the image above). I’m seriously considering removing it. Let me explain why.
Irony #1: Read the text as written. Among other things, it’s anti-consumerist (Choose a fucking big television, etc). The choices that you make do not define you. All that you have means nothing when you’re dead and is meaningless even while you’re alive. How did I end up with this poster? I shopped on the internet, I went through probably a couple of hundred posters trying to find the right ones for me, I ordered it framed (because I’m way too lazy / unskilled to trouble myself with something so trivial as that), I had it shipped to my apartment, and I paid for it with a credit card. So, I acquired this anti-consumerist poster in pretty much the most stereotypical consumer way possible.
Irony #2: The text is not complete. This is the most famous passage in Trainspotting. It appears both in the book and the movie. However, there are several more lines after the line telling you to choose life. They are:
I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who need reasons when you’ve got heroin?
Um…that kind of changes things a bit, eh? This last bit is pretty much the theme of Trainspotting. People kick heroin but ultimately go back. Heroin destroys several of their lives. They choose heroin over life. So, you have a poster that is a tribute to a novel/movie that actually communicates the exact opposite message of the work. How much of a tribute is that?
Irony #3: This poster, as written, is actually an inspirational message. It’s a cheerful note telling you not to sweat the little shit, don’t sweat keeping up with the Jones’, don’t sweat the current state of culture / politics, just go out and choose life. However, remember the missing lines. Clearly, the narrator of these words is choosing the opposite of life, a life of false reality and probably early death. How do you think Irvine Welsh feels about his anti-speech being converted into a feel happy optimistic message (well, if he gets a cut, then maybe he feels pretty fine about it, which could be Irony #4).
Final Irony (#4 or #5): I knew all of this when I bought the poster. I knew that I was making a consumer choice of an anti-consumer product. I knew that the speech was incomplete and a betrayal of Trainspotting. I knew that the falsely positive message conceals a way deeper pessimistic one. I knew all of that and I hung it anyway because I thought that it was funny to still hang it. It was a very deep inside joke in my own little head that it would take me probably about 15 minutes to explain, so I probably never will and just say that I bought it because I really enjoy transgressive fiction (which is actually very true) and Trainspotting is a wonderful example of it (which it is).
That being the case, if I do invite someone who understand all of this and I say that, then that person will think that I’m the very person that I’m actually ironically making fun of, thus possibly creating an ironic situation for the other person.
That is just way too much irony to have hanging around next to my dining room table. I think it’s having a negative effect on the room’s feng shui, so I’ll probably remove it.
Maybe I’ll replace it with a kitten hanging by a bar telling me to hang in there, baby.