Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rambling Reiterations

The goal in my mind is that my perceptions, my vision, my ideas actually correspond to reality.  This absolutely does not require some sort of demand for realism in art. Quite the contrary. Anyone claiming realism needs other art to challenge that perception.   How is the world really? Like 1984, the Lord of The Rings, or in Stephen King novels, or in Camus novels?  I am talking deeper issues here, not simply narrative descriptions.

I still hold out hope that at some level we find truths that can never be fully explicated or described but of which we can gain a fuller understanding by listening the various reports of people's encounters with them, and perhaps trying to look at them directly on more than one occasion and from different angles. Why should truths about existence and love and truth and beauty be given less care than an interesting rock formation?

At times I grow impatient with people who say, "Well what's true for one may not be true for others. your truth may be different from my truth."  It really seems that this statement is a way to avoid the challenge other ideas pose for us. But maybe the problem is the wording. I want to know if the way I see the world is in fact the way the world is. You may take another course. I am perfectly willing to admit that  you may see something in reality that I don't and vice-versa but that is way different from saying that what  you see is not true for me or what I see is not true for you.  It's saying we may both be on to something, we may be approaching this particular mountain from different directions, the morning star may be the evening star, or we may looking at totally different things, or one or both of us may be seeing something that is not really there.

But don't you want to find out if it is really there; don't you want to talk not about whether you're right or I'm right but about how we can find out what is really going on even if it turns out one of us is wrong, or both of us are wrong. Don't you want to move toward the truth?

(As I write this "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea" is on the radio. That is such a rare thing.)

But this is what I find as I read the papers and watch the TV and listen to the radio-- the topics of conversation are set out for us, the perceptions of a relatively few and their views take up the time, and we are taught to value what is put before us, which coincidentally and intentionally or not, results in those few making a sufficient living and those institutions large enough sums to perpetuate the whole thing.  But these folk are separated from us by a vast gulf.  We and by "we" I mean each and everyone of us, cannot individually engage the folk putting forward these views, rather we discuss these things which each other.

What an affront to freedom that complete strangers should control the content of our conversation with each other! Why we even think it is important that others agree or disagree with us and these others! We think it is important!

Yet all of these discussions claim a rootedness in a time and place when people actually conversed and performed personally with and for each other.  What was Athens but a Scene?  What was Jerusalem but a Scene? What was Enlightenment London but a Scene?

For me we could have the New Athens here. Song and plays and poetry. Written at the highest level but for an audience of people we actually see and know.

It is not a matter of trusting our instincts that we are on to something here. It's more like stating what seems to be a simple truth, namely that there is no objective or articulable reason why the topic and view preferences of people who do not know us personally,  should take precedence over the topics of our own choosing, the paths that look interesting to us here.

Some of this seems so obvious, but I think that we are often blind to how much we have internalized the rules of the game even when we are allegedly being rebellious and speaking truth to power.  First of all I see little evidence that most of us are interested in finding the truth (by which I mean statements and visions that correspond to reality) before speaking it. Mostly however speaking truth to Power means recognizing Power, responding to its demands.


Why should Power have such a hold on us that it determines what we say and who we say it to at any level. Worse it assumes without showing me any evidence that truth is found by being convinced by other people, not by searching for it.  For after all those in power will find the truth by being convinced by us.

Maybe I am decrying what appears to be a great emphasis on the political, with little or no emphasis on the underlying ontological realities in which we ground our politics.  But if we are not looking for what is real at the most basic level and build our politics from there it is just a question of who has the most numbers.

But going deeper is a drag because it is really a drag to find out again and again and again that you are wrong and need to modify your views as they clash with experience. Easier to find comfort in movements and numbers. George Orwell said one of the motives for writing is "to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood."  I find this to be true for many metaphorical "grown-ups"

But all of what I have written, really is paradoxical, because if the truth is, if reality is such that, the way to find the truth about reality is to search on your own honest terms, then clearly one would want that attitude to filter through the entire culture. 

And maybe that is what the Explicator has been leading towards, the notion of articulating  criticism which views the individual objective worth of a piece of art as something which should be sought, without reference to greater cultural demands, or sociology, or business or pop culture various academic disciplines, or even musical history (all of which are really good and quite interesting  in their own right) and perhaps without reference to a standard of artistic success such as Noel Carroll as suggested. Rather for want of a better word the search for objective value in these works is "philosophical" one that looks towards the worth of this art  in all its manifold complexity as a production of a member of this universe faced with this universe.
And such critical writing need not care whether the reader is alerted to the next big or best thing but only that the reader may be alerted to the possibility of a good thing.

We need to remember I think also that the only way we have ever progressed toward the truth seems to be in critical conversation with other people, and listening  to the reports of other people. Other people are key to our finding the truth. And we may never know which person says which words which lead us to the truth or away from error. That being the case humans must be considered paramount in the truth seeking process and therefore this lightly going to war, this capital punishment, euthanasia yes even abortion,  this locking people up in secret prisons, must be looked at from a sort of First Amendment angle: to take a human life or to remove it from contact with us is to diminish however slightly the possibility of finding the truth or being corrected. To conclude that this human will never offer me anything in the way of truth finding and therefore may be dispensed with is already to have reached massive conclusions about the nature of people the world and the truth. I am not saying such things are wrong although they may be. I am merely pointing out that from a strictly methodological point of view life and liberty seem  necessary to the pursuit of truth. Whether maximizing the possibility that we all have views that correspond to reality is a good thing or whether there is such a thing as the "Good" are separate questions. I am speaking strictly methodologically.

1 comment:

  1. I agree.
    To lock another person away only increases your chances of remaining stuck/immature/dishonest.
    Unchallenged you survive, but never thrive.

    I have asked many times for negative (and accurate) critiques from some of my peers on the 'antifolk' scene, but have rarely gotten any.
    Fortunately, there has usually been one person in my life (at any given time) willing to call me on my shit.
    While this has helped me immensely, the praise has --I dare say--not helped one bit.