I forget who it was who said or wrote “disorder is merely an order we do not yet comprehend.”
So the American election is still up for grabs as I write these lines. Probably will be for days, if not weeks.
But this isn’t a post about politics. Typically when someone attempts to draw me into such a discussion I cut them off with a quick and decisive: “Sorry, I don’t do politics.”
Why? Because to me something bigger is at work here. Bigger than you and I.
Similarly, when the subject—and how rare this is—turns to books, ideas, and dare I say it, literature, I retreat. All the way back into the Cafe you might say.
Again, there are bigger patterns at work, and believe it or not politics, books, ideas, even literature, as well as just about everything else are wrapped up in this larger flowing pattern I am talking about.
I was heartened this morning though when I read an article at CBC.ca that began: “‘Authoritarian capitalism is where the U.S. is heading,’ says Yale historian.” The article’s title was: “How Capitalism is Destroying Democracy.”
“Ahh,” I thought, “someone’s on to at least a certain segment of the pattern.”
A hundred years ago a man devoted nine hundred densely packed pages to introducing this underlying pattern I am referring to here. Few people have read it, fewer understood it.
“[T]he ‘contemporary English-American politics,” he wrote, “have created through the press a force-field of world-wide intellectual and financial tensions in which every individual unconsciously takes up the place allotted to him, so that he must think, will, and act as a ruling personality somewhere or other in the distance thinks fit…. Man does not speak to man; the press and its associate, the electrical news-service [now the internet] keep the waking-consciousness of whole peoples and continents under a deafening drum-fire of theses, catchwords, standpoints, scenes, feelings, day by day and year by year, so that every Ego becomes a mere function of a monstrous intellectual Something. Money does not pass, politically, from one hand to the other. It does not turn itself into cards and wine. It is turned into force, and its quantity determines the intensity of its working influence.”
Then, a few paragraphs later:
“Today we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The will-to-power operating under a pure democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that the object’s sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thoroughgoing enslavement that has ever existed…. Democracy has by its newspaper completely expelled the book from the mental life of the people. The book-world, with its profusion of standpoints that compelled thought to select and criticize, is now a real possession for only a few. The people reads the one paper, ‘its’ paper, which forces itself through the front doors by millions daily, spellbinds the intellect from morning to night, drives the book into oblivion by its more engaging layout, and if one or another specimen of a book does emerge into visibility, forestalls and eliminates its possible effects by ‘reviewing’ it.”
Stark and grim, and yet its part of a vast all-inclusive pattern in which we play our allotted part, strut our few moments upon the stage, and then recede.
That is Life.
Are you up for the challenge?
Because that is ALL there is.