The political and the literary are each distinct ways of seeing the world. Each is a unique means of understanding the limits of Truth (yes, upper case necessary). Both are ways of adjusting the focus on the lenses we use to recognize and to identify people, places and things in the world, ordering that world as such according to different metaphysical paradigms. They are as well ways in which we project our vision onto this world. Moreover, these forms of epistemology—and they are ways of understanding knowledge, of considering and accepting what knowledge is and what the limits of it are, as well as the limits of what is knowable—the latter epistemology in extremis.
The political and the literary, you could say, have for always been mutual antagonists in any society since the advent of writing. And it is mostly since writing that this conflict has arisen. It is with the advent of writing, oparticularly alphbetic writing that we see an extraordinary shift in the framework of mind and how it apprehends the world, orders that world, projects visions onto that world. The political is a framework for any kind of power to manifest. The framworks for power are older than writing; with literacy came the push for democacy and thus the antagonism that writing, literature and literacy have had with all forms of power and elitism. The irony, here, though, is that achievement in the literary must be maintained along a vertical axis of hierarchically arranged levels. Only then can the literary democratoically challenge old and traditional power wich always aligns itself with elites or coalesces within elite groups, that’s elites that are monied or invested with authority or power itself.
The political and the literary are thus equally exclusive theories of knowledge competing for acceptance, at least metaphysically they are exclusive. But in our lives this competition is real enough, true enough, actually felt as a force in the freedom of every individual in our society. How it affects what we think, how we think, why we think what we think when we do . . . and in this argument, I establish as self-evident the existence of metaphysical energies without embarking on a definition of metaphysics or how metaphysics is a force or an amalgamation of energies found in the unseen paradigmatic shape of thoughts, ideas, theories, institutions, strategies, hypotheses, laws, norms, behaviors; political, literary, rhetorical, et cetera. These metaphysical energies parallel those in the physical world, they often correspond to those physically manifest along parallel lines, if you will. The metaphysical is likewise tangible with the psychical—tangibility is not tactility, so do not confuse the two.
Metaphysics has an effect on the forces of the physical universe; again, for every force, let’s say, of the physical universe, there is an equally powerful metaphysical force. The metaphysical is not just an articulation of the real, or the actual, but it is reality itself. Reality is never complete without all of its metaphysical components; the senses alone are poor judges of the real or the actual. I need not point to the fact that we walk on flat ground, topography not withstanding, yet we know the surface of the earth is curved; we note the rising and the setting of the sun in the sky, yet we know that the sun neither rises nor sets; we order and arrange time into past present and future, yet we know that all time is one and that past present and future are illusions we persist in maintaining out of vanity and hope. Clocks and calendars are time in experientia for most of us, yet how we experience time in the mind is other than how it passes on a clock, and how it passes on the clock is no less a fiction than the play you just saw on stage—there is though a fictional truth to time, and there are advantages to suspending our disbelief in the reality of clock time.
Nonetheless, time, space and the indissoluble unity of the two not withstanding, I return to the driving force of my current argument, the metaphysics of politics will for always stay in opposition to the metaphysical character of literature, and that’s in any theater of being, anywhere, any when.
For some of us who do aspire to higher literary expression than we seem capable of fostering in our state sponsored education systems, or the few of us who do respect the literary enough to love her too much, it should be no surprise that writers and governments have always had a tenuous relationship at best, certainly precarious and mortal in the worst of times.
Writers for all time become enemies of the state where they are not tolerated as antagonists in a political theater that serves the performance of the State as it presumably does here in America and abroad in Western or western style democracies. The illusion of freedom is the best we can offer ourselves and our countrymen in America . . . no less than those people in the Matrix were served by their illusions. And I do not ascent to having used hyperbole here.
The relationship between literacy and freedom, literacy and democracy, where and when and how our liberty does and should have limits, however, is just what must be determined if anything resembling democracy in its highest ideals can be sustained.
What does toleration mean, for instance; what does it signal here in our current America, one that preaches diversity and multiculturalism from on high, whereby they have become dogmas of state, of every institution of government, but with how much organic and intelligent expression, or with how much meaningful capacity other than that found in slogans and clichés .
We need—yes, it is necessary to ascertain how much States and their governments create space for subversion in order to control subversion; or, how much they subdivide the people in a Machiavellian ploy to conquer and control, while maximizing proceeds, which is capitalism 101—sub-divide the market to increase profit. Of course the state sponsors multiculturalism in society—it increases the wealth of the moneyed and power elites. In a society that no longer produces anything , black America, for instance, is no longer needed as a producer class, so they go from proletarian under class to pseudo bourgeois consumerist class.
We needed to subdivide the market place in order for them to buy more and go deeper into debt in order to continue to live their pseudo bourgeois existence. But how many really care or can read deeply enough to understand they should care.
Everyone in America seems entitled to his own opinion, a nod to our origins as society based on the principle that without Freedom of Speech, among other pillars of freedom, there could be no liberty at all. No one today though will call anyone on the quality of another’s opinion, but toleration for all opinions goes only in so far as someone opinionated is willing to reach consensus in the end.
Writers have often found themselves hanging by a precipice, if not by a rope, whenever they have been too closely scrutinized by political leaders, or those agents of government who maintain loyalty to their state in counterbalance to any fidelity to art, or to the people. Book burning and banning is not something reserved for Nazis alone. Censorship does not need a Politburo or Commitern to succeed. We can burn literacy without actual flames; denying books that require greater literacy is equal to burning books. How is the manner in which we educate in our State sponsored education not like the burning of the library at Alexandria; how is the recent assault on the Canon not equal to that.
Bureaucrats everywhere are usually those whose only link with intelligence is a base and state serving pragmatism, a kind of cleverness found in abundance in both businessmen and criminals. Their aesthetic is the sense of beauty one has for mass production, bureaucrats like clean neatly written applications and forms—yet, there is something to the intelligence of someone who when filling out an application cannot stay within the lines. But why has this become the limit of state sponsored literacy is beyond my comprehension, except as a program for control, a way for moneyed and power elites to better control the people, creating out of them Pavlovian conditioned salivating dogs, the bell is rung.
Ask not for whom this bell rings because it rings for every one of us, dogs to be fed. An antagonism to higher literacy must be maintained by all those committed to enhancing the power of the power elite or the profits of the monied elite, the great influential capitalist class.