Rhetorical questions are not withstanding–do not take the time to think of an answer, or even a response, to any rhetorical question posed herein. Let it suffice to say, as I have said before and will likely say again and again in the future–this Review is a literary review, and by that, I mean the essays contained within are literature. By literature, I mean the result of a higher election in Letters–I do understand that there is more in the cosmos of literary values and evaluation, than could be dreamed by any one of us, even those of us who are highly literary to the point of themselves being literature. (When Salvador Dali was asked if he were a Surrealist, he responded by saying I am not a surrealist; I am Surrealism. Something of this exists for most artists who know what the best and most astute critics know about their work. Picasso did not need his critics to affirm for him what he needed to know to be able to produce as he did, what he did, how he did.) I do know that there are representations of literary excellence that are not bound by my preferences or what I like. I will never like Browning the way I do Keats, but I also understand why and how Browning is a major poet and why his work was and has been appraised as it continues to be. I do know why he is a great poet even if my preferences are for others.
Being literate is not merely being alphabetic, or what is sometimes referred to by me as having dexterity with the alphabet. Although, the study of literature is sometimes called the study of Letters, spelling one’s name correctly is not what I mean by being literate. My shopping list is not what I would call literature, although the aesthetics of this shopping list or shopping lists could be employed in the service of the literary. No? Of course it could. Poetic forms themselves are more in number than can be counted or named offhand by most who are themselves what I would call literate, educated in the study of literature–no? A poem written in the style and manner of a shopping list is an interesting idea, and I just might try my hand at it after I finish this . . . it is necessary to make the steps toward higher election in maters of the literary sturdy enough for us to climb. Most recoil.
We cannot continue to pander to our corrupting need for ease–the manner by which we turn simplicity into the simplistic is also the one that turns from necessary complexity because we misunderstand this complexity to be complication. I do not want to sound like some reactionary nut who is going to spout the virtues, if not simply the benefits, of standards, as if that word in itself said anything, the word having become a conservative mantra, coupled with a belief that standardized tests are the way for schools to improve, making their assessments the first and the last in state decisions for education. I do not like the American penchant for playing ping pong instead of articulating an idea, so I am not going to join the camp that wishes to make all standardized testing irrelevant, marginalizing standardized tests for entrance to college and graduate school. Standardized tests as made by the state to be administered in public and private schools and others used to measure specialized knowledge or abilities and dexterities with knowledge or facts or problem solving are not all one and the same things.