Do you want to know yourself? Do you want to understand why you are afraid of bogey-men in the dark who do not really exist--except in your imagination where they have almost complete control over your life? Do you want to follow the Eight Fold Path? Do you want to see beyond the 10,000 Things? How about walking in Jesus's Footsteps? Or throwing off Your Chains? If any of these sounds like something you are looking for, listen, please. I have a story to tell. It is called "The Myth of the Birth of the Reader"---and it is all true!
First a few words from our sponsor, the greatest literary critic of the 20th century, Roland Barthes from "The Death of the Author.".
Thus is revealed the total existence of writing: a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text's unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/...
Now, on with the show.
Once upon a time, we counted upon critics and journalists and politicians and Our Betters to tell us what things meant. So, if your daughter died, that could mean 1) you were a very bad mother 2) God wanted her in Heaven 3) the neighbor next door bewitched her 4) God was dead and it meant absolutely nothing at all in the scheme of things. How you reacted to your child's death determined what you would do. Case one, you sank into despair, started drinking, had very low expectations and continued to labor in your less than subsistence wage job until you died an early, miserable preventable death--after giving all your hard earned pennies to a slum lord. Net result: you made a rich man even richer. Case two, you emerged from your grief optimistic, you went on to have more children, they all practiced your religion, your religion gained many more members and collected more in tithes and added to its "Treasures." Net result: The Pope could afford Prada Shoes. Case three, you accused your neighbor of witchcraft. Your political leaders used this as an excuse to kill all the Jews/Roma/Chinese or whoever your society scapegoated and confiscate all their goods and land. Net result: the rich got even richer and could brag about doing it. Case four, you wrote a book about a child who becomes a vampire. It touched a lot of nerves in a lot of people. You kept writing.
Now, which of these four (out of infinite) reactions to a child's death is the scariest? Number three, obviously. The rich and their political allies can use a good witch hunt to do almost anything. Cancel their debts. Steal land. Launch foreign wars. Repress their political rivals. Make you work for shit wages in shit conditions. Persuade you to build concentration camps and crematoriums to exterminate your former neighbors.
"But we don't hunt witches anymore!" you exclaim.
Silly rabbit. We are hunting one at this very moment. She is called Amanda Knox. Some people think she is a martyr. Others think she is a tool of Satan. Very few of us actually know the woman. We know a myth that the press has created. And different countries have different political stakes and therefore the members of their respective presses have very different things to say. If you are an American, you probably (but not definitely) think she is a martyr. If you are Italian you probably (but not definitely) think she is a monster. Why?
At this point, you can say "I believe what I believe. I don't care to know why." And maybe, if you are an American this solution will suffice--for the moment. Because you probably believe what you do because 1) you distrust the press and 2) you trust humans to be basically good and 3) you believe in the rights of the individual. But you might want to get to know yourself a little better anyway, because one of these days you may find someone you know involved in a shooting. A random act of violence committed by a gunman who had the worst possible kind of childhood---stepped on at every turn, his only "right" was the right to bear arms and he used it in order to make himself heard. And, at that point, your belief in the sanctity of the individual's rights to be himself is going to be shaken to its core.
If you are Italian and believe that you have found Satan's earthly manifestation, you should probably hop into a time machine and get started on that introspection yesterday. Because members of the press and politicians who can convince you that they have found Evil itself and it wears a human face and by killing or confining or exiling that human they can promise you paradise on earth or at least make you feel so safe that you will never have to worry again about some monster chopping up your girlfriend when you "park"---but do I really need to spell it out? Italy did not embrace Mussolini in spite of its nature. It did it because of its nature. And if you don't want to see the trains run on time and people getting "disappeared", now is the time to start knowing yourself and throwing off those chains.
For Brits, whom I imagine are about half and half (though the press has been pretty much in the Italian camp) you are much less likely than the Italians to succumb to the seductive lure of fascism but somewhat more likely than the Americans. And it isn't because there is anything wrong with you. It is just due to a relative imbalance in your society. When you sent all your most free thinking rebellious sons and daughters to the New World in order to keep them from making mischief, you gave away a little bit too much of what makes a Brit a Brit. Lucky for you so many immigrants are moving into your country. Now, your job is to embrace the immigrants. Not too much--you don't want to become get rich quick at all cost people--but you don't want to succumb to fascism either. Do you?
If you are still reading at this point, then please go on over to Amazon and read my latest for free.
If you do not have a kindle and can not download the FREE text onto your computer, drop me an email message at McCamyTaylor@earthlink.net and I will send you a copy of the word document.
And Happy Birthday, Reader!
"That's it. The lover writes, the believer hears,
The poet mumbles and the painter sees,
Each one, his fated eccentricity,
As a part, but part, but tenacious particle,
Of the skeleton of the ether, the total
Of letters, prophecies, perceptions, clods
Of color, the giant of nothingness, each one
And the giant ever changing, living in change."
Wallace Stevens from A Primitive Like an Orb