Words and Reality
We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.-unnamed Administration official
TomDispatch has the transcript of a graduation address by Mark Danner to the UC Berkeley Department of Rhetoric, entitled "Words in a Time of War - Taking the Measure of the First Rhetoric-Major President". The speech goes deeply into our problematic relationship with argument in these ultra-modern times, basically, words in the service of power have triumphed over words in the service of reality. Mark starts off with a bang:
When my assistant greeted me, a number of weeks ago, with the news that I had been invited to deliver the commencement address to the Department of Rhetoric, I thought it was a bad joke. There is a sense, I'm afraid, that being invited to deliver The Speech to students of Rhetoric is akin to being asked out for a romantic evening by a porn star: Whatever prospect you might have of pleasure is inevitably dampened by performance anxiety -- the suspicion that your efforts, however enthusiastic, will inevitably be judged according to stern professional standards. A daunting prospect.But if he was really intimidated, he still performed like a seasoned stud, and used it to put together a deep look at the many dilemmas brought about by the belief that power trumps reality.
As they say, read it!