I do not want to debate the merits of my tradition, one I have been calling the Western Tradition for as long as I have had the acumen to critically read and write about this tradition when I was university student and since. I do not want to get into contemporary American diatribes or delusions about the existence of Western Civilization, anymore than my Italian or French cousins, friends, or one time college classmates would want to debate an idea ridiculous to many of them. I do not get the same reflexive knee-jerk semi-literate critique that I get from Americans from educated men and women from the Republics of the former Soviet Union or from Poland or Chile or Turkey or Morocco or Columbia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, or China, to list just a few. I accept the Truth of this tradition and what it has accomplished, as I accept the Beauty of its legacy, while I understand the checkered nature of its past–and I do understand that I am using uppercase values for Beauty and Truth, as I also understand the implications of this capitalization of words, as I hope you understand the way they are being used by me to indicate a metaphysics of Beauty and of Truth that we seem unable to accept, at least broadly in our culture. This use of capital letters for Beauty and for Truth would not have been misunderstood when I was an under graduate, although it was beginning to come under attack then, as it had been marked a number often times by Freshman Composition teachers and English Professors, for I probably overused it, as zealous as I was about the veracity ad valency of the tradition of metaphysics in the West. Zealous is the nature of most college students; mine was no different and probably more passionately so, if you can imagine someone being more passionately zealous than normal?
I do not want to defend the credibility of Western Civilization–it seems ridiculous to want to, or even more so, to need to defend it. Does it sound crazy to say that I believe in the rightness and the trueness of my culture and civilization? I suppose it might, but perhaps only to those so far out of the circle of my understanding, my critical apprehension, my learning, reading and training that my diction and jargon are like words from the moon, one or another form of lunacy. Critical practices being what they are, what they have been, perhaps it is more necessary than I assume for me to articulate what I mean by Western Civilization and what I mean by its Beauty and its Truth. I hesitate in explaining the way I would hesitate explining the Trinity to Muslims, even educated ones I fear have an entrenched dis-understanding of Christian theological concepts, mush the way I have found very few educated Jewish Americans who did not also dis-understand, and I do not mean misunderstand, when it came to Catholicism, let us say. No, I do not want to explain at present what I mean by a tradition I have not doubted the existence of, as many academic resenters pushing for intellectual hegemony by opting for a kind of cultural iconoclasm. But perhaps I understand why I might need to defend its literary heritage; I understand that reading has been abandoned–at least the reading I had been taught was necessary for the advancement of civilized being, which in turn helps perpetuate civilization, although that checkered history of Western Civilization has often been far less than civilized, when civilized can also stand for humane. There is Truth in the Beauty of it. We should understand–or, at least you should accept that I believe there is an integral and mutual and reciprocal relationship between Beauty and Truth/Truth and Beauty. It’s a two way street doubled backed.
Literary, as I use it here for the kinds of essays I am writing in this journal, is an elitist term, it marks the user as someone who is elitist or supports elitism, I understand the responses this use of literary or the responses to a sensibility that embraces elitism in writing, or the appraisal of writing, or the critical responses to certain kinds of writing. I even understand, although I do not agree with every pseudo intellectual’s pseudo marxist critique of power, or how anything elitist is by necessity a social cancer. The literary by nature is elitist and cannot ever be otherwise, but that is an aesthetic elitism which is not by equal necessity an ethical elitism, nor does it necessitate that political elitism should follow aesthetic elitism. That position has not been adequately supported except through tirade, diatribe, or one or another forms of demagoguery.
My civilization is in need of defending, although I wonder if I need to be an apologist for Western Civilization while defending it. Apology is not in my nature. I am also never going to debate the existence of Western Civilization as merely a construct of 18th century professors. That is too absurd. The 20th century, as well as ours currently continuing, is practiced not only in murder, the art and science of mass murder and genocide, but in maintaining a seething resentment for what it thinks it understands as the cause of all the misery and destruction it so vehemently and vociferously stands opposed to, whereby in the tamest critiques we hear the mantra called and recalled: revision, revision, revision–and ad naseum. The way to all conclusive remarks about society and what needs to be fixed is revision.
Yes, I know we are faced with another crisis in civilization–mostly in our epistemology. Crises in civilizations have been repeated around the world across time for many reasons, if that words says what I hope it does about causes and their effects, if we really can get at sole causes for historical events or historical crises, or historical currents changing their course. What we like to call history is anything, though, but [progressive, certainly not in the way we like to restrict the word ‘progress.’. This crisis I have noted in epistemology is one where we have come to undermine our faith in knowledge. We have ended up with a serious doubt in knowledge, a doubt in the possibility of knowledge and knowing. Socrates began with I know nothing as a departure, as point from which he could launch his inquiry into knowledge and find what is knowable and where the limits of knowledge can be drawn. We have culminated with this, and so an inversion of Socrates postured doubt has become fixed, no longer a plastic inquiry into knowing, but a petrified fossil of doubt lodged in what has become an archaeological site of the mind.
I am not going to define either in contrast with the other; time and history. History is history; time is time. There is no need to ask me if I think history is progressive; you might as well ask me if I think the ocean is progressive. Neither is. What then do I say about this review; to view again, to see again, to understand once more. Looking, seeing, all about understanding; to stand under, to hold, feel the weight of. Writing helps us carry the weight of our lives, bear the weight of our ideas. Writing is one of the greatest multifarious tools we use to build a civilization which is the multiplication of building a civilized life, in itself to have built a humane one. What means one or the other of these, any one of them part of the process of reviewing. I look once more; I look for again, search and research for what. The present is perpetual; the past is lost, What do we recover by this review, another scene seen. I wish I had more to say on this. The Falling Leaf Review is. To say anything else would subtract from what it could become. To be may not be the most important state for this review; becoming is a perpetual state, one in constant and reciprocal tension with being. This must be understood to get what the in perpetuity of this review is or could be.