We, Another Mask

The ‘we’ you find anywhere in my essays is the conventional editorial we, the we of most social commentary, the we that sets before it, as a rhetorical strategy, you and I, not solely the collective plural. I am not separate from you, another form of the I and thou we all need to understand better in our politics and our ethics. Any critique levied in my writing is not an attack but a corrective, or so I say, although I do not take contemporary hyper-sensitivity or the temperamental as a barometer to read the weather of what should and not be said. What the pronoun ‘we’ says that the pronoun ‘I’ does not, cannot, we might understand as something inclusive, inviting, softening . . .

When I criticize and say you or they instead of we, I set myself apart from the critique. I am not subject to the corrective I pronounce. This is simple enough to comprehend. I will not venture a discussion of the rhetoric of I and the rhetoric of we; the implications should be clear. Yet, what we do here at The Falling Leaf Review is answered by the things I do, the things I say, words, words and more words formed by me here on the virtual page–I do miss writing with a pen, how the pen and word-processor do not write the same, do demand a different syntax?. Everything herein is I; I am the review, I am the editor, I am the publisher, I am the chief writer, I am every word, every thought, every opinion et cetera. So, what does this the have to do with the pronoun ‘we.’

Being is plurality; the Self is one of many selves. I steal from poets. I wish to make this review as literary as possible. I have not degraded my understanding of literacy by confusing it with what the French call alphabetisme; you have heard me refer to this before. yes, the French do not call be able to write your name and address correctly on a mail envelope literacy, no. This perfunctory dexterity with letters is not literacy but a from of alphabetics, circus tricks like acrobatics, only with letters. Being able to negotiate the alphabet is what it is as it allows you to read the tabloid newspapers written on the third and fourth grade level; it allows you to fill out applications and other forms from the bureaucracy. This, though necessary for base level social functioning, is not what anyone with any higher level of reading would call literacy. That is, being able to spell one’s name correctly, being able to read the tabloid newspapers with efficiency, being able listen to and digest TV journalism with its sound bite reporting and commentary, being able to fill out the forms and applications supplied by the state and institutional bureaucracies are all of them necessary skills, you could say, but are hardly literacy. Yes, these abilities are the mark of being alphabetically correct, not having attained what could be called–should be reserved for naming–literacy.


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