There’s been a couple of times recently that I’ve waded into the political debate. Each time has left me feeling a little bit diminished. Sure there are issues that are important, and there is nothing wrong with giving voice to ones opinion. But the manner in which it’s done ends up leaving me with a taste in my mouth.
After the momentary glow of satisfaction of having scored a point in the endless debate has faded there’s nothing left. Normally the completion of something is accompanied by a feeling of accomplishment. But in these cases even that is absent.
Righteousness is a balm to many a bruised ego. It seems, myself included, that most political analysis is an attempt to trumpet ones own horn at the expense of another. None of us are able to pass up a dig at the opponent when the opportunity presents itself. The path to self validation lies through the diminishing of others.
If we were to judge our opinions based on those type of arguments we would be forced to admit that our beliefs lack the vitality to withstand debate. It’s one thing to argue against a position, but to cast aspersions on the person holding that view reflects a lack of faith in one’s own espousal. Do we so doubt ourselves that we to deflate others so as to appear worthy?
As a person and a writer I have opinions and views that I want to express. They form part of the basis for my inspiration and desire to write. But they were not the only reasons that I set out to write. When I forget my aesthetic sensibilities for the sake of argument, or when I ignore my heart’s desire for pleasure, I feel like I have betrayed something.
“Every artists strictly illimitable country is himself, and the artistwho has played that country false has committed suicide”... e. e. cummings.
George Orwell once said about James Joyce that as an author he doesn’t consider himself above politics, rather they are beneath him. It’s a fine distinction but an important one. Instead of Joyce believing himself superior and not deigning to dirty his hands by writing political work, politics as a topic or a subject for his pen was not worthy or appropriate. His writing had transcended to another level.
When one sets goals as lofty as that anything less feels like cheating. As the quote from cummings says we define who or what we are for ourselves and it is up to us to live up to that or face the consequences. Perhaps in the naiveté of youth when I dreamed those dreams of artistic expression I set the bar too high. But the time for regrets, and the ability to do anything about it, has passed.
Politics and issues are important to me. One can’t just ignore the world around you and hope it leaves you alone. There’s too much at stake with the battle lines that have been drawn. I’m not about to surrender and leave the field with my banner furled.
"Rid yourself of the feeling that art has nothing to do with reality and is not sturdy enough to face it on its own”....Erwin Piscator.
So I will continue to take the lance of my pen in hand(O.K. I sit at a keyboard but you try to think of a good romantic image for that)and strike the pedestals of the over inflated to try and bring them down a notch or two. I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drummer, so now it’s just of matter of remembering to keep in step with myself.