A Crack in the Cage

12Apr07

“Being so pitilessly prone toward the absolute, the ideal and knowing that lawyers and law courts are witnesses to the imperfect state of our civilization, temporizing adjusters of society’s ill-adjustment and yet whose occupation, largely viewed, though transient, tentative, unbeautiful, amid trouble and contention, is still noble in good offices and lavish of sacrifice in its long slow evolutionary process of justifying man’s ways till delay feels confined, compromised in the legal profession, and casting ahead, falters strenuously against steel barred gates, to be away and enjoy the wildest individual freedom and self-government.”

-From the journal of Edwin Manners

A lawyer’s Diary

1893-1913

“my pet butterfly”

Well now, that’s quite a muddled mouthful. I pretend not to decipher this mysterious writing but in parts; I’d encourage others to do the same, should the desire (and script) arise.

The poet of the world wrote into the topic of yesterday a death. Kurt Vonnegut joins, in death, the list of literary figures whose platforms were at once polemic and endearing, inviting humanity to further understand and escape itself. I fear there are few others who will rise to take the lose reins left by Vonnegut and peers.

Oh, where will this post lead? In a circle, I assure you.

The quote above came to me through a friend who is in position of the full manuscript. Impossible to summarize, I wish to call attention to a point which I believe lingers at the end: freedom and self-government. Interesting that a student of the law, ol’ school style, would longingly lust after such anarchist tendencies.

Or is it? Words such as anarchy bring to mind such social chaos that one can only imagine violence and self-destruction, a dog-eat-dog world where one’s own puppies become desert. But why?

Our creation of world history is trapped in setting society in viciously violent affinities, forcing the belief that one must dominate or be dominated. I wonder if this really is “true.” Having been stuck with my mind mingling amongst Foucauldian theories, I constantly revisit the knowledge/power paradigm. Truth, as established by knowledge, shifts with the times (and power structures) making it neither static nor empirical. Which sort of says seeing is believing, until you remove your prescription lens.

So as we line up to learn in the power institute of education, we accept and are almost addicted to knowing the atrocities of humanity. Victories of violence have become national anthems and pride. I have two comments here. First, why can’t we (as my mother always says…) maximize the highs and minimize the lows (and I mean this in reference to reveling in the kind, open, peace of people). And second, violence, structured individualism, pain, destruction….but wait, we aren’t anarchist?!

True, it seems sooooo naïve and simplistic to say “teach peace,” but really I wonder. I wonder what would happen if history (our truth of our past) was rewritten in such a way to highlight human moments of empathy. As we would learn about our previous peoples, could we learn not to mimic (what other way do humans learn? Ah, another discussion for another time) the rape and pillage mentalities, but perhaps the moments of grace and community? I am by no means encouraging the neglect or denial of past problems. But…ok here’s an example. We in the social sciences are constantly bombarded (Mr. Manners mentions this) with all the problems of society. Every book, every article seems to have a dire outlook on the way of people. If you read enough of it, you come to the conclusion that there is no solution, no answer to the problems; essentially there is no hope. And if there is no hope, we of course succumb to repeating what we know (and are told).

Why has striving for utopia become not only far-fetched, but rebellious? Yes I know, those in power…blah blah…control…but even those at the top want “to be away and enjoy the wildest individual freedom and self-government.” Even they want freedom from their own power. It’s a shame that the only thing we can safely universalize (uh oh…I’m digging a hole) is death; we should bring back the yearning of a utopia of freedom. It might lead somewhere.

Like to an anarchy, of peacefulness.

Mr. Vonnegut told stories with great apocalyptic undertones. Despite his distress with destiny, humanity always seemed to have the will to continue. Manipulated and misshaped, it stays with the ride until…well who knows. But I’d imagine getting back on after the fall is a lot more painful than staying on through the bumps.

One of my professors laughed the other day when another professor suggested teaching “happiness.” Silly yes. But are we really content fixing the collective in despair and misery? I guess that’s not really the question; it’s more a matter of whether or not we are ready to entrust people with pleasure (and utopia).

To sum it up, I’m going to apologize for being optimistic today.

Or even better. Kurt Vonnegut died from an injury to his head. In other words, his mind has just been released to the universe.

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2 Responses to “A Crack in the Cage”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    your blog is wonderful.

    i enjoyed reading this post because it challenges some of the philosophies i put passion into, mainly: creating and nurturing with love and peace as a means to creating and sustaining a more just society. i know the fantasy of this anarchy of peacefulness you speak of… but maybe i need to take a more critical look.

    unfortunately i cannot afford to procrastinate any longer at this point, but will ponder this realism v. idealism dualism (or possible union..) at a later date in time.

    more thoughtful response then.
    keep thinking.

  2. I was suggested this website by way of my cousin. I’m now not positive whether or not this
    put up is written through him as nobody else know such particular approximately my
    problem. You’re wonderful! Thank you!


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