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  • Moscow Mitch

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Virtually every day we all see in the media or meet in personal life certain types of people: the capitalist who specializes in swallowing up companies and in the name of efficiency firing half the workers, attempting to get rid of any unions and rolling back benefit packages of the remaining workers, all the while threatening them with the specter of foreign workers who toil for a dollar a day; the spurned lover who stalks and murders his former lover because if she cannot belong to him she cannot belong to another; the blustering right-winger who tells a panhandler to get a job and who blames the people in the ghetto for their poverty; the person at work who substitutes power manipulation for relationship, who backstabs and hides his or her self-regard under the guise of duty or the importance of the organization, telling a worker that she cannot attend to her dying mother or sick child until she gets her work done; the athlete who crashes into the sidelines, knocking over spectators and photographers but not bothering to apologize or check to see if anyone is hurt; the pundit on television who blandly discusses the U.S. economic embargo of Iraq in terms of power politics without mentioning that the embargo kills tens of thousands of Iraqi children, old and sick people every year.

What do all these people have in common? They all lack imagination. Being egocentric, solipsistic, self-involved, or whatever term one cares to use, they never think of other people, for other people with their individual needs and desires are not important, not real to them—hence the violation of Kantian ethics (the practical imperative, never to treat another human being as a means to an end but always as a end in him- or herself). They are evil too, for what is evil but this very violation of Kantian ethics? And yet since at its most fundamental level imagination is seeing what isn’t there, they are not totally unimaginative; it is only that they have a warped and perverted imagination that only serves their selfishness and greed. In a brilliant passage in Essay on the Principles of Human Action, the English Romantic writer William Hazlitt makes the connection between self-centeredness and the possibility of wider human sympathy and solidarity when he states that the only way to know the future is by a projection of the imagination. The same mental power, that is to say, that a greedy, selfish man uses to dream up his schemes for getting rich and gaining power is the same faculty of imagination that makes him capable of sympathetic identification with others. I could not love myself, Hazlitt concludes, if I were not capable of loving others.

We do not often see such thinking in modern-day America; instead we see glorified the capitalist who swallows up companies and the athlete who scores the touchdown at any price. The self-involved, unimaginative man, however, is like a black hole. His soul has shriveled into a tiny dense point that gives off no light and which distorts everyone who comes into contact with him. He is not to whom Hamlet was referring when he exclaimed, “What a piece of work is a man!” Capitalistic societies, as always innately hostile to any visions of oneness and solidarity, stimulate the imagination that everyone possesses in selfish ways, trying to make people not see the unity and oneness of humanity by deflecting this most human attribute into dreams of getting rich, having money and power, big cars and stuff, always stuff. It feeds not the spiritual hunger for peace and unity but the selfish, materialistic, grasping desire to have things so that (the ads make us hope) we will be loved and admired. As a result it produces in abundance dreadful, miserable excuses for human beings.

The polar opposite of the human being as black hole is the person with empathic imagination. He or she can see all people on their own terms, as beings imbued with personalities, histories, wants and desires, fears and phobias. Such imagination allows us to participate more fully in humanity, to experience life at a wider and deeper level. Imagination is also the most human attribute we have. Every other human characteristic is shared in some degree with our fellow mammals and other creatures, but the ability to imagine worlds that don’t exist in reality or to see life from another’s eyes is uniquely human. The fullest realization of our human nature, then, is found in those with the most imagination. Exercising it is liberating; it widens one’s view of the world so that one sees unity and similarity instead of atomistic individuals and hierarchies.

The fact that all human beings have imagination and are at least potentially capable of entering into the life of another person is what makes literature innately moral and ethical. One antidote to the sickeningly self-regarding culture that inundates us, then, is literature, or it should be. Literature opens minds, stimulates the empathic/sympathetic imagination by allowing readers to see the world through other eyes than their own. Just as a workout in a gym strengthens muscles, a workout with a poem or story strengthens the imagination. But the dominant literary movements of our day, modernism and postmodernism, perversely parallel capitalistic values in their ethos. Modernism has so distorted the cultural heritage of the west that it has made artistic duty nothing more than to exalt the self, and it does this at the expense of imagination, the one thing that all human beings have (and writers should have in abundance) that leads to human solidarity. The characteristic emphasis of modernism is to see the writer as special, as a being above the ordinary human realm. Even in works where this attitude is not explicit, the reader can still sense the repellent sense of superiority. The writer is regarded as one who is not subject to the same human duties and limitations as mere citizens, and disdain for bourgeois values widens into contempt for working people. Such writers, in short, ally themselves with capitalistic values and carefully observe hierarchies of worth. The only use for a poor bedraggled beggar is that he might make an aesthetically pleasing subject for a painting, but his presence in a poem by Pound or Eliot or in a Bloomsbury novel is only an occasion for superiority and contempt. With its emphasis on form and experimentation, its inspiration not from life but from other literary works, the spirit of modernism is essentially critical, not creative, not imaginative. There are of course exceptions where life wins out over theory (Joyce’s Ulysses being the best example, but even some of the passages in The Waste Land), but essentially modernism smells of the lamp. Instead of being an imaginative and creative response to life, its practitioners show in their works (Pound’s poetry, for example) that they are more interested in playing the role of a writer or a poet than in being a human being responding to the multitudinous wonder of the world and being a writer. Coming up with a new form is never imaginative unless the new form is the only way to express a new way of seeing the world such as Walt Whitman did in Leaves of Grass, but what insight does the long rant of the Cantos offer?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Virtually every day we all see in the media or meet in personal life certain types of people: the capitalist who specializes in swallowing up companies and in the name of efficiency firing half the workers, attempting to get rid of any unions and rolling back benefit packages of the remaining workers, all the while threatening them with the specter of foreign workers who toil for a dollar a day; the spurned lover who stalks and murders his former lover because if she cannot belong to him she cannot belong to another; the blustering right-winger who tells a panhandler to get a job and who blames the people in the ghetto for their poverty; the person at work who substitutes power manipulation for relationship, who backstabs and hides his or her self-regard under the guise of duty or the importance of the organization, telling a worker that she cannot attend to her dying mother or sick child until she gets her work done; the athlete who crashes into the sidelines, knocking over spectators and photographers but not bothering to apologize or check to see if anyone is hurt; the pundit on television who blandly discusses the U.S. economic embargo of Iraq in terms of power politics without mentioning that the embargo kills tens of thousands of Iraqi children, old and sick people every year.

What do all these people have in common? They all lack imagination. Being egocentric, solipsistic, self-involved, or whatever term one cares to use, they never think of other people, for other people with their individual needs and desires are not important, not real to them—hence the violation of Kantian ethics (the practical imperative, never to treat another human being as a means to an end but always as a end in him- or herself). They are evil too, for what is evil but this very violation of Kantian ethics? And yet since at its most fundamental level imagination is seeing what isn’t there, they are not totally unimaginative; it is only that they have a warped and perverted imagination that only serves their selfishness and greed. In a brilliant passage in Essay on the Principles of Human Action, the English Romantic writer William Hazlitt makes the connection between self-centeredness and the possibility of wider human sympathy and solidarity when he states that the only way to know the future is by a projection of the imagination. The same mental power, that is to say, that a greedy, selfish man uses to dream up his schemes for getting rich and gaining power is the same faculty of imagination that makes him capable of sympathetic identification with others. I could not love myself, Hazlitt concludes, if I were not capable of loving others.

We do not often see such thinking in modern-day America; instead we see glorified the capitalist who swallows up companies and the athlete who scores the touchdown at any price. The self-involved, unimaginative man, however, is like a black hole. His soul has shriveled into a tiny dense point that gives off no light and which distorts everyone who comes into contact with him. He is not to whom Hamlet was referring when he exclaimed, “What a piece of work is a man!” Capitalistic societies, as always innately hostile to any visions of oneness and solidarity, stimulate the imagination that everyone possesses in selfish ways, trying to make people not see the unity and oneness of humanity by deflecting this most human attribute into dreams of getting rich, having money and power, big cars and stuff, always stuff. It feeds not the spiritual hunger for peace and unity but the selfish, materialistic, grasping desire to have things so that (the ads make us hope) we will be loved and admired. As a result it produces in abundance dreadful, miserable excuses for human beings.

The polar opposite of the human being as black hole is the person with empathic imagination. He or she can see all people on their own terms, as beings imbued with personalities, histories, wants and desires, fears and phobias. Such imagination allows us to participate more fully in humanity, to experience life at a wider and deeper level. Imagination is also the most human attribute we have. Every other human characteristic is shared in some degree with our fellow mammals and other creatures, but the ability to imagine worlds that don’t exist in reality or to see life from another’s eyes is uniquely human. The fullest realization of our human nature, then, is found in those with the most imagination. Exercising it is liberating; it widens one’s view of the world so that one sees unity and similarity instead of atomistic individuals and hierarchies.

The fact that all human beings have imagination and are at least potentially capable of entering into the life of another person is what makes literature innately moral and ethical. One antidote to the sickeningly self-regarding culture that inundates us, then, is literature, or it should be. Literature opens minds, stimulates the empathic/sympathetic imagination by allowing readers to see the world through other eyes than their own. Just as a workout in a gym strengthens muscles, a workout with a poem or story strengthens the imagination. But the dominant literary movements of our day, modernism and postmodernism, perversely parallel capitalistic values in their ethos. Modernism has so distorted the cultural heritage of the west that it has made artistic duty nothing more than to exalt the self, and it does this at the expense of imagination, the one thing that all human beings have (and writers should have in abundance) that leads to human solidarity. The characteristic emphasis of modernism is to see the writer as special, as a being above the ordinary human realm. Even in works where this attitude is not explicit, the reader can still sense the repellent sense of superiority. The writer is regarded as one who is not subject to the same human duties and limitations as mere citizens, and disdain for bourgeois values widens into contempt for working people. Such writers, in short, ally themselves with capitalistic values and carefully observe hierarchies of worth. The only use for a poor bedraggled beggar is that he might make an aesthetically pleasing subject for a painting, but his presence in a poem by Pound or Eliot or in a Bloomsbury novel is only an occasion for superiority and contempt. With its emphasis on form and experimentation, its inspiration not from life but from other literary works, the spirit of modernism is essentially critical, not creative, not imaginative. There are of course exceptions where life wins out over theory (Joyce’s Ulysses being the best example, but even some of the passages in The Waste Land), but essentially modernism smells of the lamp. Instead of being an imaginative and creative response to life, its practitioners show in their works (Pound’s poetry, for example) that they are more interested in playing the role of a writer or a poet than in being a human being responding to the multitudinous wonder of the world and being a writer. Coming up with a new form is never imaginative unless the new form is the only way to express a new way of seeing the world such as Walt Whitman did in Leaves of Grass, but what insight does the long rant of the Cantos offer?
dude....cliff notes?
 

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Netou is MAD!
Joined
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25,820 Posts
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now this thread is full of LEWL!!!!
fixed

noice.

lewl is > lulz
 

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Registered
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15,903 Posts
heres the cliff notes

JPG's post = thread full of lewl

Dj's post = thread now full of LULZ

My post = thread now full off bullshit
 

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SRTforums Member, SRT of the Month
Joined
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47,655 Posts
fixed

noice.

lewl is > lulz
:wah?!:

Smoke take the knife out of my back... JD has turned on me.. are you trying to make mod bro... sucking some cock?:readclose:rofl:
 

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SRTforums Member, SRT of the Month
Joined
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47,655 Posts
heres the cliff notes

JPG's post = thread full of lewl

Dj's post = thread now full of LULZ

My post = thread now full off bullshit
and thats what really matters... :rofl:
 

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Premium Member
Joined
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47,678 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
seriously... Cliff notes. I can only get on here from my iPod damnet...
ipods have internet? :stab:
hahahaha i give you LULZ and you want bant? failure on you..
:jester:
heres the cliff notes

JPG's post = thread full of lewl

Dj's post = thread now full of LULZ

My post = thread now full off bullshit
:rofl::rofl::rofl:
:wah?!:

Smoke take the knife out of my back... JD has turned on me.. are you trying to make mod bro... sucking some cock?:readclose:rofl:
no he just likes suckin cock:rofl:
 

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Netou is MAD!
Joined
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25,820 Posts
:wah?!:

Smoke take the knife out of my back... JD has turned on me.. are you trying to make mod bro... sucking some cock?:readclose:rofl:
:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

LEWL is so fucking annoying that I can't help it ... it's like those commercials where you want to murder someone when you see it but then the next day at work your whistling the song from it:rofl:

edit: jpg why did you express your feelings through my post anyways?:rofl:
 
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