Monday, May 14, 2012

the mandate of words

I wrote my first story in the fourth grade. The tale arrived in my mind with a great gust of laughter and I just knew I had to write it. I was lying in bed, in the dark, when it arrived -- some cartoon-like story whose central character was a mouse and whose punch line had something to do with stuffing a rag in an automobile gas tank, lighting it and KABOOM! It was pretty funny at the time.

By the time I reached the eighth grade, I was writing longer stories, stories about people ... stories about people which were more important because they were longer. If the written word was important and credible, then a lot of written words were more important and more credible. And of course if the words I wrote were important, I was important. Everyone finds their way to play god in their own lives and I had found what I thought was one of them.

I grew up believing in words. Written words. If I ingested and could disgorge the words that books provided, for example, then I would get good marks in school. Good marks were a sign of a social approbation. The importance and credibility of words was in books, in writing and, to a less exalted extent, on the tips of people's tongues. Words carried a social mandate and an importance that exceeded my own.

It's funny how anyone might credit the written word. Words seem to have an exalted mandate within the human spectrum. I guess the only way to get beyond belief is to believe, to find the collective approbation that is often the hand maiden of belief ... yes, go ahead and believe for as long as it seems useful. Words, words, words ... believe, believe, believe.

The other day, a chum sent along an Internet link to an analysis of the 'authoritarian' personality. He knew I wasn't much of a reader any more, but he suggested I read a bit about the Tea Party -- a fearful political mind set that is, like anything fearful, much to be feared. The Tea Party seems to be less a cohesive political group than a state of mind ... imaginatively 'patriotic,' intent on bringing down national debt at almost any cost, against spiraling taxes, and sick to death of big and intrusive government. There is a Tea Party distaste for examining its own agenda and it makes up for its shaky grounding with its volume and sincerity ... much as I once made up for a lack of substance in writing by writing something l-o-n-g.

The analysis, which I gave a rough-skim reading, struck me as complacently left-wing in its tone, sloppily edited, and as sincere as those who oppose gay marriage. Its mediocrity -- so sincere, so presumptuous, so l-o-n-g -- irritated me. Yes, the Tea Party and its mentality was authoritarian in tone, fearful in disposition, and destructive in a lot of serious and solemn ways. But the analysis lacked meat in my mind. If you're going to pick your enemies apart, the first order of business is to love them. It's not enough, no matter how loud the sincere volume, to string words together and hope that some damned fool still believes in words, in writing, or in the fact that something is printed... and applaud you in ways you are willing to credit.

I am not doing justice to the analysis any more than I think the analysis did justice to the Tea Party and its authoritarian demeanor. But that's my point: If I agree, that's OK. If I disagree, that's OK. If I agree a little and disagree a little, that's OK. But what is not so OK is the willingness to ooze sincerity and try to get others to agree with me ... and thus enhance my credibility, my truth, my importance. To rely on others is not wrong. It just doesn't happen to work.

Anyway, here's another l-o-n-g blog entry.

I hope somebody is laughing.

No comments:

Post a Comment