Where does this journal or any journal take you, take me, take us, take anyone? A literary journal is a literary review, to daily look again? Not exactly what anyone means when he says I keep a journal. What every literary journal is, exactly, is a journey into the literary, into literature, into criticism, interpretation, and sometimes the sheer enjoyment of reading. I have called this journal of mine a review because I prefer the word review, itself meaning to see again, of course; but maybe I do in the way I prefer grapefruit juice to orange juice? No! Maybe I should say, in the way I prefer ruby red grapefruit juice to the other grapefruit juice? Yes.
This review is made up of literary essays and a blog, and in some places on-line is cached as The Essay Review, and in others, it is boxed as The Falling Leaf Review, formerly The Essay Review. You may access it by fallingleafreview.org. I hope the readers read both the blog and the pages section, which contains the essays and some fiction, short stories or short-short stories. Where then does the review go, and go is an appropriate reference for the actions of a review. There are destinations for the pieces published within, even if the final destination for each has as much to do with your engineering as it does with my conductorship. Where does it cumulatively arrive? I do not know if it could have a cumulative destination. I now it makes many stops along the way, and its way is its journey, the going and coming that happens with the reading and the interpreting and the critical thinking it might evoke. Where does it take us, we could say something of if by this we mean the many places, the many destinations, the many, many stops along the way–yes, it is not the destination but the journey. We hate air travel as much as we do because air travel lends itself to the illusion that it is an immediacy and thus we lose site fo the journey we are taing and thus we do not cannot enjoy how we go to where we are going.
What does it–can it–achieve? Questions keep coming. I try to answer them as they arrive. I sometimes only respond, no answers for some questions; we love to respond rather than answer, but this is not exactly what I intend by responding where I do not answer the questions raised, or the questions I might have anticipated from critics or antagonists. I cannot entertain all notions, every idea, all criticism. These would be impossible to do, another of those intellectual exercises in futility I have always tried to avoid.
What has this review become before my eyes watching it grow, and it is in my eyes I see most clearly its growth, which is not to say tat no one else has the ability or has had the ability to see it grow, and grow in a way different than the way I have seen it grow. Watching this review as it has come to where it is at present, how it has clearly entered into the world of thinking as a tradition of thinking has been developed by traditions in the west since antiquity, has been remarkable. I use ‘we’ as a rhetorcal convention I have adopted from a tradition of criticism in the west where ‘we’ is the only acceptable pronoun, the critic cannot exempt himself from his critique. I explore critique in this way; we are, we have been, we do , we want, we will . . . .
I do not ever know what I think until I write, unless I write–the writing is where I find out how I think. Writing is salvation as it is sanitation, sanitizing me–my sanity is contained herein. All sanity is about sanitation; you do know this, don’t you? To sanitize is to keep sanity. To be sane is to be clean in the mind, right? You get it, don’t you, this idea that no one can know what
What then must we do in face of power and money and decadent politicians and Presidents who are the bitches of Wall Street or protected by Oil gangsters. Do I have an axe to grind with power and monied elites? Of course I do, but I also have observations and critiques as well as explications and expositions in defense of Democracy, upper case by necessity. How could I not? A belief in the power of the People makes what I have to say other than simple diatribes against power from a simple separate person whose lonely voice is swallowed by a cacophony of social noises . . . what then must we do? We take care of the misery in front of us. We know that we can only add our light so others can see better. There is only the writing; everything is subservient to this, the word on the virtual page. I am the editor and the chief writer of the review; I have been the same for others, The October Review, for one. I am a people of one.
People is a word that demands the upper case here as it does elsewhere in our political science, our politically framed rhetorical consciousness when we speak and are unable to see before our eyes the uppercase that looms too large for some who do not understand the rhetorical strategy set by using them, these capitalize nouns. People should always be capitalized when we talk about Jefferson’s We the People. The People are/is an institution of power in any society, whether that society has a viable power structure aligned with the People or not. The only institution large enough in any society, and thereby dense enough, to counterbalance the weight the State in its power, influence and authority is the People. But we the people are fragmented today in America; We the People elsewhere have not coalesced in its potential power position in counterpoint to the positioning of State power. The fact that the People are fragmented would not be so bad if we could manage our solitary confinement in our skins better than each of us seems able or even willing to do. We might better handle this fragmentary isolation we suffer at the imposition of power, influence and/or authority, thus molding an archipelago of resistance to the force and and will of the State. If we could read and write better and if it had a higher place in our thoughts, a more commanding respect from ourselves.
The fore mentioned simple separate person is often more easily dismissed by power than honest, genuine and passionate critique that employs the energy of a form that has often been used against power and has never really been employed by power. The Literary Essay then is most importantly an organ of Truth, also by necessity in upper case. We need to read and write better and maintain a higher level of respect for those who can really perform the task, if we are going to protect our freedom, manage our democracy for the betterment of all people.