Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Adjusted reality

Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother,
the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an' cheated by pursuit
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

A recent posting on Bob Dylan's Chimes of Freedom deliberately reserved a stanza touching upon freedom of communication, for the reason that another blog was presenting its own unanswerable claim to that right, the same day.

The character of that claim owed much to the implication that the right is an inviolable condition of the liberty of the self, leaving it to others to assert the right to access and accept the expression. Plainly, the deaf and blind and the mute possess undiminished entitlement to the full scale of that right of access and acceptance.

It is the mistitled prostitute who embodies the unanswered question of those recent postings: what is the right of acceptance, if it is not co-extensive with liberty of expression? You cannot find a single text by André Gide in the largest bookstore in the home town of Thomas Jefferson, which happens also to be the seat of his famed Ackademical Village. Nobody in Virginia troubles himself to argue against Gide; we argue quietly, against ourselves. We adjust our reality to fit the hypocrisy of our philosophy. That we invoke the young in this self-abuse is only its most repugnant excuse. 

That we are educating the young to know nothing that the community does not countenance, is only hereditary "massive resistance" to the integration of our minds with reality. (Just yesterday, an Albemarle County judge restrained the Commonwealth's sociopathic Attorney General from intimidating the University against its grants to study climate change, while all around Virginia, farmers are fundamentally adjusting crop plantings to deal with undeniable "facts on the ground").  

This portrait presents the insupportable price of our suppressions as well as any could. It has been tinted to warn of its peril, and gutted to remedy it. Of André Gide in Virginia, it is drawn from an original at a blog which flouts our "massive resistance" with as much panache of wit, sympathy, exuberance, cultivation, and taste as any other known to me within the mistitled mantle it has been willing to adopt for freedom's sake. I forbear to name it, in outrage at this mistitlement - which I decline to endure, in denial that I chafe under my shackles. Yet this evasion poisons praise of him with condescension, this complacency is a complicity, and is the real outrage.

I welcome him as an extremely dear friend, to bring his oft-quoted project into comment here, anytime, and to lay humane, hilarious waste to self-deception as only he can. Come, Rinaldo, home from fair Armida in the Cyclades, and lead our play.

Anthony Esolen, translator and editor,
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000


  1. I just found your blog via "another country".... you have a beautiful blog!

    Check out mine...

  2. I do marvel, that anyone with your address would trouble himself to venture anywhere, much less to this secular little backwater. Would it be wrong to suppose this to be some youthful rebellion? :)