Saturday, December 25, 2010


It's been my habit to look for the metanarrative which is a way of locating a story within a greater context such as the Enlightenment or Feminism or the American Dream etc... To the post-modernists this is nothing more than a triumph of logos over mythos. They might say that my reading of the tapestry is weighted with certain pre-digested beliefs and expectations. What if I went to the other side of the tapestry and read the dis-embroided and absurd tangle. What if......

Well-suited said Marx of Hart & Schaffner to which Marx of Engels added, manifestly so, whose threads proclaim your class, at which time Marx, of many brothers, waved his cigar and with his eyebrows overthrew the order to the great dismay of Marx, the clothier, whose vested interest was seen as dialectical by Marx the bearded and seconded by Marx the mustachioed who declared whatever it was, he's against it while Harpo harped, communing with the down-trodden, as Chico fast-talked Hart & Schaffner selling them his Tuttsie-Fruitsie as Engels was installing Captain Spaulding, the African explorer, to head the dictatorship of proletarian Fredonia and that may be a wise-crack but I doubt it.

The problem with meta-narrative in history or geo-politics is that it assumes a single point of view, usually the one of the dominant culture. Brits are taught a different history from the French or Germans. Texans re-wrote their textbooks which have little resemblance to New Yorkers. We are in a prismatic world with everyone bearing witness. Twitter, Twitter!

However with competing small narratives, objective reality has been dismissed. Truth, drummed out of our vocabulary. We are becoming a nation with an erased past. History has been consigned to the revisionists who now oversee a growth industry. All this has tragic consequences. Global warming is relegated to just one of several opinions. Evolutionists are made to compete with the Bible-thumpers. Even vaccinations have been called into question. And then we have the Holocaust deniers.

I would argue that Science makes room for skepticism and pursues an evidence-based truth which is as close to objective fact as we can get. History happens in real-time to real people. To be sure, events are often clouded, even deliberately obscured but a measure of objectivity can be achieved. Even in literature the choice of words or their omission can reveal layers of meaning. There is room for all this in a pluralistic society and a reasonable place exists between relativism and the absolute.

Groucho is not Karl even if they both took aim at the upper class. But neither a Day at the Races nor a Night at the Opera compares to a year in the Gulag.

1 comment:

  1. Being that Churchill stopped what he was doing in the midst of WW2 in order to watch "A Night at the Opera" he might, if still alive, disagree with your last sentence.