The biblical phrase “come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), one of President Lyndon Johnson’s favorites, has been effectively replaced today with Bah Humbug! Reason is now obstruction, invective has replaced debate. Stalemate becomes the tactic because “where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.” (Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College)
Kim Jong-Un, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin and other dictators around the world tell us “democracy doesn’t work.” Are they right? This is a theme we’ve been exploring since the beginning of this blog. A few of the most recent links are below.
Our poet of late, William Blake, whom we’ve been reading in great detail while we are engaged in the slow and laborious translation (from Spanish to English) of Adriana Diaz Enciso’s book Doleful City of God, had much to say on all aspects of America. Blake’s America: A Prophecy is a particular example. Blake saw at the beginning that revolution may dethrone a tyrant but revolution alone does not establish liberty. Worse, revolutionary forces can devolve into a new oppressive establishment. We don’t have time to deal with this theme in the detail that it deserves. For a good start we recommend William Blake and the Myth of America: From the Abolitionists to the Counterculture. Another good link is A Visual Commentary on Blake’s America by Jacob Rabinowitz. The Rabinowitz article has illustrations of the beautiful illuminated plates that go along with Blake’s great poem.
One of Blake’s famous aphorisms, the tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction, contrasts boundless energy and inspiration with mindless training and received ideas. While the former was crucial in creating America, it seems the latter is taking over today. Let’s hope this observation is wrong. Let’s hope we can still dream. Let’s hope we can still dance.