What passes for remedial instruction in many community colleges is often not intended to be better than what we still sponsor in our high schools. I have taught in some of our community and four year colleges for more than a decade and a half. If democracy is slipping–and it is–it is because we who want it have confused it for collectivism, a kind of mass appeal to the masses themselves as a focus of their admiration. We have allowed ourselves to become a public instead of remaining a people–The People. This public always comes before the people in the protocols of the state. Students in our colleges have become patrons; that is how it has been translated through every overly bureaucratized adminstration of whatever public service about which we speak. Administrators themselves see nothing they say or support or blindly adhere to–anything that comes from whatever mandate is stamped from on high–as part of the problem of making everything about business.
We do moo and baa together and call it our Ode to Freedom. Can we, though, articulate any sense of freedom other than by amassing entries and figures and calculations from the ledger books of state; have we so relevatized meaning that we can no longer say anything about anything anywhere anytime without first adding or subtracting or dividing into percentages? Who’s to say is what everyone says? It’s a great advertising ploy to get everyone to accept anything said by someone because we too want our opinions to be entertained for at least the time it takes others to ignore them in the end when we are all expected to reach consensus.
All opinions have become equal; everyone is a genius for fifteen seconds. But if all things were relative, there would be nothing for anything to be relative to, which is pretty much where we have arrived, perpetual relativity ad nauseum, ad absurdum.
With this our current state, we have reached true nihilism, a nihilism at its purest. Infinite possibility does bury as I have said before. In our mass media culture, saying anything makes it so, even if only, again, for fifteen seconds, but that quarter of a minute is enough to sustain us in our thinking for years. There is no truth only perpetual topicality.
If we lived in Bradbury’s world of Farenheit 451, though, all knowledge would be lost, all literature gone.