Everything is interconnected. In some disciplines and particularly in hard sciences that is rather an obvious and therefore useless statement than a secret. But in the area I have been trained—literature, but I could use general terms like art or simply culture—the same obvious statement is often forgotten or decisively denied. The academic studies of culture and even sometimes the very products of high culture—poetry, philosophy, art—ignore, both purposely and accidentally, the connection between their abstractions and the riddle of power. Due to a good reason, though: the abstract thinking that rules high culture and the specificity of the academic studies of culture demand focusing. There is no room here for an extended explanation of this point, so I will be satisfied with the words copied from a letter of Maurice Blanchot, a radical writer of the kind that embraces its own isolation by creating a sort of exclusive language: “One [of the two impulses of a writer] is the passion, the realization, and the speech of the whole in dialectical accomplishment”, he says: the prosecution, the chase—that is what it is—of the whole. The other impulse, though, goes to the opposite direction and does not rely on the abstract glimpse of the unity but in the concrete reference to the fraction and its relations to other fractions, so to say: in the world. Blanchot again: “One names the possible and wants the possible. The other responds to the impossible”. But once the impulses have been identified, it is imperative to relate them. The real task of the writer—and thinker and artist—is precisely to point out the links between the whole and the fraction that we are in order to make sense.
The current world in which we all live finds its major problem in the lack of sense. People often understand several different things for a word according to their convenience. Sense is something that relies in clear meaningful words. Words are always changing, though, and any sort of control over those changes of the language would be despicable. But words will change naturally—if the oxymoron is acceptable—if we oppose the unintended ignorance and mainly the intended ignorance. It is no secret that anyone in circumstance of power will try to maintain that position. According to Noam Chomsky, that was the explicit goal of the American liberal George Kennan in the 50s who wrote in his Policy Planning Study 23 that since “we have about the 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population […] our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity”. These are clear meaningful words. Of course, these words are also meant to remain in secrecy. The words that the system in Kennan’s country used openly since then are very different: “stability”, “preventive war”, “threat”, “terrorism” et caetera. And the United States of America are not exceptional in this matter—though their power and influence makes them special: secrecy is the way of power.
It was also Maurice Blanchot who wrote: “Tout doit s’effacer, tout s’effacera”: everything must be known, everything will be known. This is one of the tasks of the writer—thinker, artist—but it is not in exclusivity. That is: everybody must pursue the abolition of secrecy. Where the thinker has a professional responsibility, the citizen—no matter what is his or her profession—has a civic one. We have to admit that no one can fully accomplish this task, but everyone must participate, either delivering the secret or receiving it. To read, to stay informed, in order to distinguish the clear meaningful words out of the rhetoric, is already doing something.
I said we often sacrifice the meaning of a word according to our convenience, but we have sacrificed even that of the word “convenience”. We seem not to know what is best for us as citizens nor as individuals. To target the ones who offer us the truth or even to ignore them is not going to help us to live better. That is only going to make us accomplices of the secrecy, which most of the times hides odious crimes.
I believe that these are some of the reasons of this website.