I feel closer to Paul de Man all the time, that is to say wiser and sadder, bearing witness in my style by endless evasion, gesturing at what I cannot or dare not say. He had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge. Would that he were alive today. What would he convey to us, do you think? About our time, our hour come round? Given a second chance, in this our new illiberal era, after the demolition of universals and their supplantation once again by cynicism and fanaticism, what would he counsel? How might he act, that we might imitate him and set an example?
As with St Peter, the Centurion will ask us the fatal question. To which we too will reply with some version of "I do not know the man." Knowledge - how paltry in comparison to courage, and the habit of parrhesia. No amount of interpretation after the Fall will set it right. Eve with a Doctorate, spits the withered seed from her mouth. She wrote her dissertation on Truth. She says it does not exist, and the snake weaves itself back and forth around her ankles, writhing his assent. For it was Truth she played False. And it is to Falsehood her words correspond. Of that much we can be certain.
He is impossible! Talking with Tom Matrullo who calls himself a reporter. He actually was defending this CBS guy who screwed up a whole TV show to announce that Arafat had died! I mean, like, who cares? Tom, a good story costs plenty to manufacture. Never interupt the narrative. Spell-bound consumers delivered hand and foot.
I posted on giving at IT Kitchen. Here's more on the same topic: Let's say each of us listed out the gifts we made, whether of money, or time, in the last 12 months. Wouldn't we find that most often we gave to those orgs that were staffed up to ask for our gift? Religious institutions, schools, Salvation Army, United Way, the local fireman, police, Red Cross? What if we computed the after tax cost of all those gifts and decided for the next 12 months we would give at the grassroots to those who had time and talent but no money, who were held back by having no access to the internet, or no raw materials, or no ability to support themselves as they brought a public spirited project to fruition? I wonder how much good we could do, helping each other with such efforts, if only with encouragement and volunteer time? Who says that "giving" has to be funneled through tax exempt orgs, with all their overhead and preset agendas? What if we took our giving back and focused on our shared sense of the common weal? Out of that might come a giving community, networked and active online and off. The circulation of microgifts would define a community, and give us social capital well in excess of any funds given. IT Kitchen strikes me a model of such giving. Wouldn't it be nice if selflessness caught on?