Humanism is an idea, it is also an ideal. It should remain a goal for a person, a people, any institution, all states. It has been a tradition understood and cherished by the Publishing Editor of this review; it is one that should be cherished by all who wish to live free. The Falling Leaf Review, in fact, stands firm in its commitment to Humanism. This functions as a mission statement. I as publisher, as editor as chief author stand behind this. What has not been abandoned in these pages is just this obligatory commitment to the tradition of Humanism, uppercase ‘H’ imperative. The rhetorical difference between upper and lower case letters has been lost; at best it might have been tenuous when I was an undergraduate; it quickly lost its efficacy as both something archaic and even at best something far too subtlety drawn to be of any use. This was a dogma of then current style that has left us unable to understand the values of ideas that might be better handled with subtler devices supplied by spelling and typography. So much the worse for literacy when education dis-enables readers from discerning and understanding the subtlest devices in the cause of advanced literacy.
It is in its pages that this journal needs to be explored by the readers, and I insist that reading is what needs to be accomplished here, and by reading I imply or infer all that is necessary for understanding in a text all that has not been written for the scanner of texts. Superficially skimming pages will not do; Melville had once said of Hawthrone’s writing, that Mr. Hawthorne’s writing is meant to deceive the superficial skimmer of pages. Yes, there is a difference between what reading is and what we often do instead. We cannot imagine that what has passed for too long in our schools for literacy, becoming entrenched in our pedagogy, the dogmas of teaching we now accept and receive without question, will help us engage the kind of literacy necessary for our culture and civilization to sustain themselves. I too wish to deceive the superficial skimmer of texts, yet there is something of these pages that is aimed at an average reader, whoever he or she may be, average when, though, would be the next question. The average reader today and in my day as an undergraduate is not the same, even at Harvard or Oxford or the Sorbonne. Only advancing in literacy will help us maintain the kind of writing necessary for the literary advance of our culture; the literary advance of our culture is integral to an effectively distributive maintenance of freedom and democracy in the broadest possible way. I know how high minded and handed I am being. I take these truths to be self-evident, though. Their necessity obliges me; I am committed to actualizing them in these pages, and by doing so, aiding the dissemination of democracy and liberty socially. Those who can, must.
Literacy is not alphabetization. I know how to spell; I can fill out most bureaucratic applications on my own correctly; I can read the tabloid newspapers, and I understand, although I often do not question, the messages in most advertising. These do not in themselves or in combination make a person literate. The kind of reading and writing supported by bureaucrats and State certified teachers is only what helps sustain control or being in form. Yes, all manners of informing have become the manners by which we put and keep us in form. Dye-cast people. Information is always in formation.
The Pages section contains essays, and more essays, and yet more essays, now nearing two hundred. How does this number help you understand their content? It does not, but it is a subtle way of implying that there is something weighty about them by highlighting their number. Now that’s advertising, which we are trained to respond to, not only in the messaging, but in its existential importance. It is not the product but the package, right?
The Falling Leaf Review understands that the essay is a form of writing integral to the advance of freedom; as I have insisted over time again and again in one political essay after another. Yes, literacy is one of the cornerstones of civli liberty everywhere. It was at the dawn of literacy that democracy was born, although enduring an infancy we might not want to recognize. The form I acknowledge herein as the principal form, the driving force of all written expression, comes to us from Montaigne. It is not that there were not exhibitors of the form antecedent to the arrival of Montaigne’s Les Essais, or The Essays. We must remember that the word ‘essay’ comes from the French essayer, a verb that translates to try or to test. Essays are therefore trials or tests of ideas, of arguments, of social positions, et cetera. The etymology is at least residual in every essay written and published here.
The essays themselves are each several or more pages in length. They have the traditions of the literary essay behind them–what the latter here has to do with their length is not integral to a definition of the literary essay. They are, though, in the manner of what we call higher letters, something I myself have discerned and judged. Of course I am prejudiced, but the fact that I am or can be prejudiced does not mean I cannot accurately discern as I have done. I can side-step my prejudices and still conclude favorably for my writing; or, I can conclude favorably for my writing and still be side-stepping my prejudices. Our conventions herein will always be literary (I am we; my is our).
The topics herein exposed are many and varied; they would have to be in order to maintain the presence of a literary review. All literary reviews concern themselves with a plethora of topics. Writing one exposition after another, it is safe to say that all essays are in the provenance of expository writing. Exposition seems to be an art reduced to a craft managed by those who defer to the received ideas of, or succumb to the structural demands of, the sound-bite; something dominant in our media, a maxim become mantra or dogma fro too many who presume they think when they pass images randomly in their minds. Even our print media has succumbed to the dogmas of constructing messages that conform with the sound bite. Print media has itself been re-formed (in the worst possible way for the literary and for literacy) by social media. Social media will not bring about the death of the literary; this does not have to happen; but it will bring about the slow torture of good writing to meet the revolutionary demands of the new writer and reader, himself confirming to the needs of an overarching mediocrity of literary achievement in a grossly mistaken impulse to make society more democratic, all of this appealing to the great social en-masse. Mass media for a society not of the People, but a society for the Public, the masses.
Twitter seems the perfect medium for the Haiku, although too much of what we find there is drivel. It also supports Renga with an exchange of posts. We could let the Haiku form affect how we write even our prose. Will we seems the most pressing question because can we is not impossible. I do not need to ask God to help us . . . God has nothing to do with the writing in this literary review. We who are I; I am who am we . . . I am we herein . . . yes this JVR is the myself and I am myself-ourselves the author and publisher and editor of all that is contained within.
Ma Plume et Mon Droit.
The Publishing-Editor/Author, Jay Victor Ruvolo.