The Other Opposite, a Polemic



“Education, Madison believed, is a corner stone of Civil Liberty,” he said. “Now, who among our High School teachers, let alone our current graduates in New York City, can ever re-read Madison with any understanding?” He asked.  “I have met far too many college educated adults for whom re-reading is essential for even an appropriate first read; and I’m one who asserts that all good reading is re-reading. But then, that’s with a more attentive and less perfunctory first reading, one that today, among those we call literate, saying it makes it so is so which is why we have the compunction to police speech. We are afraid that what we say becomes so, names will always hurt us like sticks and stones,” he said. “Reading today too often amounts to superficially skimming a page as if words were crumbs on the dinner cloth. What else could be said about how we read when it is we do what we only imagine is reading: lines on the page, the flat page, an impossible to ignore flatness where every line cannot escape the overarching linearity of itself to the reading page?” He asked.



“How can I hope to understand what individuality can mean when true political and social individuality is so countermanded by one pluralism after another, contradicted by one determinism or another in assault against any or all notions of free-will, an assault backing up these fore mentioned pluralisms.  And don’t bother to look to education anywhere in America for saving graces in the rituals of freedom; it is in our public schools that the greatest reinforcement for a decrease in civil liberty and social freedom has been maintained.  Current pedagogy has ensured that we will be neither aware enough historically nor literate enough to defend our freedoms,” he says.


“As insipidly as we support cultural and linguistic awareness, we are not likely to hold onto our best ideals, all in the name of a diversity more diversion than diversification.  Today, our diversity has too little respect for individuality.  Individuality and a respect for it seems past reckoning; individualism has increased its ismistic referencing in our rhetorical strategies concerning the package of individuality over the product of individuality.  Madison Avenue still rules the ritual actions of our mind, the ritualized thoughts behind our actions. The horror that we call it Madison Avenue,” he will add.



“Our diversity today though is nothing other than a tracing of the veins in a great monolith of marble, or creating new ways of genuflecting before the altars of entertainment. Conformity is America’s greatest dogma; how is it that we have not returned to narrower times?  There was more individuality in the old universality, it seemed to me, so long as the push was not universalism.  Isms are always a reduction of individual will and idea.  Baroque Europe I must remind us did have a greater sense of universality coextensive with its ethnic and national diversities than anything we have today; yet in a century that plummeted into the maelstrom of the Thirty Years War, as much at the foot of the legacy of the reactionary zeal of Protestant Reformers, as at the doorstep of any established institution,” he said.

“The old Church liturgy was almost invariably the call of the rock.  By church here I also mean mosque and synagogue, much the way we understand that when Jesus says Be seen not praying in the synagogue, He means churches and mosques, public schools and offices of finance too.  He also means how we tend to blow our own horn, especially in a society as ruled by media and advertising as is contemporary America.  I had been reminded one night by a Hasidic student of mine that stoning is still part of Jewish law, but that they cannot stone anyone in America.  Perhaps this is the progressiveness we should be most proud of; however, we have always preferred ropes to rocks.  Yes, rocks and ropes will harm me, but what of our fear of names and others words? We do believe that words can harm us,” he said.



“Our current politically correct reflexes about speech show us this,” he says. “The greatest assaults on the First Amendment in the last thirty years have come from the Left; and this has allowed the right to maintain validity,” he says. Moreover, I do not see ideological differences between the Democrats or the Republicans, and political space like metaphysical space like physical space is curved, and the further you go in opposite directions, the closer you come to the other opposite,” he says.


One thought on “The Other Opposite, a Polemic”

  1. This by no means is the first or the last in its set of opinions on the matters it discusses, which is why the genre of fictional essay has been the choice here. There is a difference in the assumed authority of the writer/author [no pun on authority] when an essay is one where the essayist/essayer is essaying his topics in a non-fictional essay and when doing so in a fictional one. All the the requirements of a reader reading fiction are present (valid, appropriate, relevant). We can just as easily imagine Montaigne’s essays as fictional ones, whereby, instead of Montaigne having written the most unique auto-biography or dialectic of Selfhood (if Frederick Ryder might be evoked), he had written an extended, multi-volume biography of an anonymous Self, although we really cannot do so because Montaigne has given us other clues to his purpose. Yet,imagining such is not beyond us.

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