Political Pandering Ain’t Poetry–or Public Education

6 11 2006

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” — T.S. Eliot

“Never compromising either with the public or indeed with language itself, he has followed his belief that poetry should aim at a representation of the complexities of modern civilization in language and that such representation necessarily leads to difficult poetry.”

. . .what we’re unsure we understand about Eliot is because he didn’t plant it in neatly labeled little standard rows of true-false and multiple choice, controlled to the nth degree by social common denominators and heavy pesticide applications.

Time Magazine in 1988 said Eliot “produced a body of work — poetry, criticism, plays — that permanently rearranged the cultural landscapes of his native and adopted lands. Exactly how he created himself and his era remains something of a mystery, the topic of continuing debate.”

Complex thinking and engagement with real-world cultures would be the answer to most of our real political questions. Will we be clear-eyed and well-enough educated ourselves to go to the polls tomorrow as more than monkeys playing with typewriters to see if it’s possible to produce Shakespeare by random chance?

Hmmm. . . It says right there that he aimed at representation (sounds political) but would not compromise with the public and worked within the complexities of modern civilization ( surely political!)

If he permanently rearranged cultural landscapes with his personal work, but did it mysteriously and unquantifiably, in fact quite pointedly without facts and clear definitions and cross-tabulated statistical correlations, and without campaigning, power-brokering, infringing on others or getting involved in politics in any way, was that leadership, and how highly do we value it?

Are we willing to learn from a Nobel Laureate the kind of leadership that might help us rearrange education landscapes and root out the pseudo-sciencey, standardized, decidely unpoetic factory production schools on every street corner?

Could we lead our education cultures more authentically through difficult and complex language, rather than the sensationalized soundbites of mutual destruction?

Here’s hoping this will be the year that enough of us prove to be Thinking Voters capable of appreciating Eliot’s complex truths rather than falling for childishly simplistic partisan pandering and name-calling.



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