Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No panic

Pretty Lady has some good news for herself. She does NOT have to go through all of her bank statements for the last six months and find out where that pesky twelve hundred dollars went, which mysteriously did not show up on her balance when she went to the bank last week. She thought she was doing amazingly well, since returning from vacation; the sum upon her check register always looked so cozy and encouraging, when she went to pay the bills.

And indeed, Pretty Lady has been a highly responsible bill-payer. She did not forget to pay her October rent. She merely omitted to make a note of it.

But Pretty Lady is thrilled to report that, even with this minor oversight, the rent check she wrote today will not bounce; even without factoring in the little amount of padding that she hides from herself in the check register (rather along the lines of setting all of one's clocks fifteen minute fast) she had a whopping $5.84 left over in her bank account, after Phil's cut. And her best client has decided to Spare No Expense over the next few months, and has paid her in advance. The check should clear in a day or two.

So Pretty Lady is not desperately encouraging anyone to hit her rent button this month. She is Free, Independent and Proud. Indeed, God is looking out for her implicitly; it is only when she catches a momentary glimpse behind the scenes, that she sees how ingeniously He must be scrambling.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an artist wandering around Brooklyn you have a unique perspective into the creative mind, and I am curious to your perspective on the following topic. I have known a few artists, and quite a number of actors - and they always seem to trend towards the liberal / left-wing spectrum in their political beliefs. There does not seem to be a pragmatic, cynical viewpoint among the more creative set, rather they actively participate in bringing a leftist slant to politics, both local and national.

Given the track record of left-leaning governments, from Cuba to Nicaragua to the former Soviet Union - when the communists take power the first thing they always do is kill all the artists, or crush their individuality to serve the propaganda machine for the state. I remember the first time I heard Vladimir Vysotsky on a scratchy reel to reel that someone had recorded in a basement somewhere and understood why this music was suppressed by the Soviet government. Communism does not want individuals to freely express themselves, nor does it tolerate dissent in any form. Many who perished in the gulags were the influential authors and artists that put Stalin into power, and yet that fact is routinely ignored by the artistic community.

Another more recent development is the utter willful blindness of the artistic community to the growing Islamic influence in the world. Islam is not known for it's embracement of the arts, or for dissent, or even dialogue. In this case, the Hollywood intellegentsia (an oxymoronic phrase if ever there was one) do not seem to realize that if sharia gains ascendancy in the United States that they would be the primary targets for the new rulers as they are the purveyors of all that Islam finds disgusting, base and deserving punishment.

I do not understand this left-wing preference, especially when this particular road ends in a dank basement for the individual who wanted to paint or sing his or her freedom. I am hoping you can shed some light on this perplexing philosophy.

Crom

Terrymum said...

I feel your pain sister. You would think my salary would cover all expenses and debt. I am not a "Spender" nor do I possess a kingly or queenly treasure. I am not stupid and I try to keep track of all incoming and outgoing money. Yet, while I'm not sure how it happens, almost every month I'm down to under $10 to my name, before the next paycheck arrives. That is not a happy time. I don't have to tell you how nasty things like overdraft charges and punative interest rates can get. The saving grace this month came in the form of my father's Christmas gift/check, early. It makes me get ulcers to be so close to the bone as it's been getting every month. So I'm always SO relieved when bill payments don't start bouncing etc.

More and more people of my acquaintence are having this problem. And still "They" say the economy is doing well. Hmmmm. Define "well".....

prettylady said...

I am hoping you can shed some light on this perplexing philosophy.

Crom, darling, I have an email address--more than one, in fact, and you are certainly clever enough to figure out how to find them.

However that may be, your question is easy enough to answer. Artists, for the most part, are simply very sloppy thinkers. They use their right brains to excess, and their left brains almost not at all. This fact is exacerbated by the abysmal quality of public education in this country; I have known ever so many artists with excellent brains, in the raw-materials sense, who are incapable of following the most basic train of logic, entirely due to the fact that they did not get a grounding in basic mathematics, grammar, English composition and rhetoric, history, and the sciences, either in high school or in college. I don't know what they were taught. I myself had parents who spared no expense to get me a decent education, which is perhaps one of the reasons I am the odd girl out at art parties.

I also believe that a large part of the knee-jerk tendency toward liberal politics in the creative set has to do with the perceived anti-gay and anti-women's rights agenda of the right wing. Actors and artists will simply not put up with this; being, essentially, narcissists, the free expression of their often-kinky sexuality takes precedence over any larger considerations of political freedom. Plus, since they have grown up in a society which is relatively safe from overt political oppression (relatively, and so far), and since they lack the historical and political education to imagine that it could be otherwise, it just doesn't occur to them that their civil liberties might be severely curtailed by the government until they are languishing in a cell, still wearing last night's garish party costume.

And with that thought, I am off to a de rigueur opening. Sigh.

prettylady said...

Also (the opening was brief) your average artist has little to no financial safety net, and little to no expectation of ever making enough money to grow a financial safety net of his or her own. Voting for expanded government funding for the arts, and Social Security, is akin to buying a lottery ticket--a little hope is better than none.

Plus, there was that guy from Amsterdam who came for a year on exchange, who had all his living expenses and tuition and art supplies paid for by the Dutch government. We want that government. :-)

Plus, the moral rigidity of knee-jerk conservatives tends to extend both to their thought processes and their arts patronage. Conservatives only support and appreciate already-established and approved artists, not emerging ones. And they give you blank, disapproving, uncomprehending stares when you talk about esoteric philosophies. Conservatives are mean old fuddy-duddies with sticks up their butts.

Really, Crom, what a silly question!

Chris Rywalt said...

Should I even bother responding to Crom here? Maybe I should tell him where to find my e-mail address as well. Not that I'm hard to find, really.

Crom, you are making a very basic mistake in logic yourself. You're conflating "leftist" with "Communist," and you're conflating "Communist" with "USSR."

I'm a creative type. I'm also a computer programmer. I hold some beliefs you'd probably consider leftist, and some beliefs you'd probably consider quite conservative. I'm fond of the NRA, for example. I think a lot of gun-toting people are nuts, but I firmly believe in the Second Amendment. I can trade Waco and Ruby Ridge-based conspiracy theories with the best of them. (Or anyway I used to be able to; I haven't been over the topic in a while.)

I'd probably qualify as a libertarian, mostly, but I also tend to think a lot of people who claim to be libertarians are a little insane, too.

I think the POW/MIA in Vietnam thing is crazy talk: There are certainly none left by now. I support the troops in the sense that I feel their patriotism and blood has been wasted on stupid geopolitical gamesmanship; but I also admit that they volunteered to be the pawns of whatever idiot was in the White House and we mustn't forget that.

In short, my political leanings cannot be characterized cleanly. So to say that artists are, by and large, leftists is a gross generalization.

One might say that the Soviets were afraid of poets and artists, not because they were against individuality, but because they were paranoid. Stalin was a classic paranoiac. He thought everyone was out to get him, and artists just got caught up in that.

Any police state tends towards paranoia, our own included. As the powers of the central government expand, the leaders see only that which they do not control; they close their fists tighter to hold on to as much as they can.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

You have mischaracterized me. Although it may appear on the exterior that I am a mean old fuddy-duddy (wink at PL) this is a gross oversimplification on your part. You seem to think my logic is soft because I have drawn my examples from the more extreme examples to be found in the recent past of leftists. I do recall mentioning other leftist regimes in addition to the USSR, but you may have overlooked those references. I will stipulate that my primary focus on Communism comes from an ongoing study of Soviet doctrine and methods, and since I am officially part of the militaryindustrialcomplex I admit that my worldview could be compromised by my scholarship. That said, I disagree with your theory that leftist political oppression is based on institutional paranoia. Rather, it seems to be the hallmark of the leftist government. They use the artists to promulgate and foment the revolution - historically because they have been denied access to the mainstream media - and art is a powerful tool in the hands of the propagandist. My question was more directed towards the creative community that allows itself to be duped into cooperating with an agenda that ultimately will crush them.

Chris, I would remind you that many of the POW/MIA's in Vietnam were draftees - and I cannot respect someone who belittles their sacrifice. Your contempt for their patriotism is detestable, and while I too despise the "geopolitical gamesmanship" that currently infests the current administration, in no way does my scorn extend to those who are brave enough to heft a rifle when their country calls.

PL - your answer was thoughtful and informative. Your characterization of the average educational level of the creative set was unexpected, and I thought the most profound revelation was your statement regarding that many of the artistic community have never been exposed to any overt political oppression and thus identify with any worldview that appears to allow their sexual proclivities to go unchallenged by the existing "legacy" morality. This coincides with many of my observations and answers the questions I asked. I cannot speak to the arts patronage habits of the conservative crowd as I am not involved in the business, although it does not surprise me that they would not be supportive of newer endeavours thanks to the media's continual focus on those artists who denigrate traditional values and mock conservative values. Piss Christ will not open the hearts and wallets of the Southern Baptist Convention, although I suspect these inflammatory exhibitions receive considerably more press than the average efforts of painters, sculptors and other disciplines.

Crom

danonymous said...

Yo!!!!! PL!!!! Watch where you tread. Artists are very sloppy thinkers....AS IF!!!!!

And compared to logical thinkers.
Sheesh!!!!! Double AS IF with cranberry (freshly made) sauce on top.

Just my opinion BUT>>>>>>>
An artist (in general) thinking in a linear fashion...well....sloppy and very artistic about it.
An artist, thinking non-linearly ( as in vision) ahhhhh....no linear logical thinker can compare themsleves to this type of individual.
Of course, a great mind in logical thinking would not think to compare themselves, as one would not compare apples and pears. And a well developed artist as well would not think to compare themselves to logical thinkers.
Having said that, I would add that in my limited experience, most artists....are not. And likewise, most thinkers...are not. But there are a heck of a lot poseurs around.
Be careful

prettylady said...

There you go, Danny-O, you did not contradict me in the slightest. Not only that, but you brought up another issue that I have been thinking about--the influence of rigorous grammatical contstruction, or the lack thereof, upon logical thought. In order to construct a cohesive, viable system of thought, one must be able to construct a complete sentence. Subject, verb, object. This Does That.

Just as an example:

Just my opinion BUT>>>>>>>

Subject: opinion. Modifiers: 'Just' and 'my'. Preposition: But.

Verb? Object?

An artist (in general) thinking in a linear fashion...well....sloppy and very artistic about it.

Subject: artist. Verb:...None. 'Thinking' in this context acts as an adjective, modifying the subject of 'artist.' "In a linear fashion" modifies 'thinking'.

Then we have some ellipses, and some more adjectives.

No verb. No object. Thus we have no statement; no movement, no argument, no testable proposition of cause and effect. We have some subjects with adjectives, just sort of hanging out, the way artists do a lot when they're supposed to be working.

An artist, thinking non-linearly ( as in vision) ahhhhh....no linear logical thinker can compare themsleves to this type of individual.

First section, before ellipses: see above.

Second section:
Subject: 'Thinker.' Modifiers:
'no, linear, and logical.' Verb: 'can compare.' Object: 'themselves.' Indirect object: 'individual.' Modifiers of indirect object: 'this, type.' Preposition: 'to.'

So, in effect, the only individual who is a viable, acting subject in this endeavor is the 'linear, logical' one, who is prevented from acting by his negative relationship to the artist, who has created this Zen tangle in the first place.

No wonder we are in such a terrible mess.

:-)

Anonymous said...

*Claps with one hand* ;-D

Crom

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom sez:
Chris, I would remind you that many of the POW/MIA's in Vietnam were draftees - and I cannot respect someone who belittles their sacrifice.

Let me clarify myself -- I wasn't clear and I hopped subjects mid-paragraph.

I wouldn't belittle the sacrifice of the Vietnam draftees -- I feel for them as much as I can. Which is only so far, since I really can't imagine being drafted to go off and fight a random war. The closest I came was being vaguely worried about the draft being reinstated during Gulf War I -- a possibility which, in hindsight, was so remote as to be ridiculous.

I would never belittle the sacrifice of any draftee. What I was saying was that the preoccupation with Vietnam-era POWs and MIAs is out of touch with reality; surely by now there are none left.

Then I moved on to thinking about the current military. I was trying to compare and contrast the stereotype pro-military person -- the one with the Terrorist Hunting License sticker in their window and the POW/MIA flag under the Stars and Stripes at home -- with my views, which is that I think the POW/MIA issue is unrealistic; and I support the current troops insofar as they are patriotic people whose sacrifice has been wasted; but that we should also keep in mind they did volunteer.

Sorry if I was confusing.

I still think you're inappropriately conflating "leftist government" with "Communism as practiced in the 20th century". The fact that the Soviet Union, Cuba, and China call themselves communists and are cruel oppressors doesn't say anything about "leftist" government. All it says is those countries suck.

It's true that, earlier in this century -- and I think you're dating yourself by making this connection -- artists, writers, philosphers, and intellecuals in America tended to have Communist groups on their resumes. That was an old-style communism which ended up not matching the realities of the Soviets or Cuba, and really, hardly anybody defends them any more (although I did have a pro-Cuba professor in college). In fact I don't think anybody on any side of any political debate these days is still a true communist or even Marxist.

Socialism is another item entirely. Artists do tend towards some socialist views, I think. But mostly I think artists think mostly about art. Politics doesn't concern them. That's how they get duped by leftists and rightists and, in fact, all kinds of -ists: They're thinking too short term, and too long term, to see politics clearly.

Listen: I'm a painter. I expect, if my paintings are worth it, for my art to last five hundred years or longer. When I paint a painting I'm not thinking of George Bush, because he'll be long gone. I'll be long gone. Everything that matters to us right now, including our language, will be effaced. But my painting will still be there for people to look at, pretty much the same as the day I last put brush to it.

So if, today, a fascist wants to use it for his purposes; or a communist; or a libertarian; or a pharmacist; it doesn't really matter.

Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and Pretty Lady, darling, love of my life: It's time you daintly stepped down from your high grammar horse. First, you are hardly the paragon of perfection, language-wise, that you would like to be. And second, preoccupation with such matters as English spelling and grammar -- which are, after all, largely arbitrary concepts -- does not say good things about one's maturity. Sophomores can argue endlessly about the proper use of the semicolon and whether or not to use the possessive case with the gerund; when one grows up, one should put away such childish things.

I understood what Danny was saying, and he said it perfectly, and in an inimitable Danny way. It is certainly not my way, and not your way, but it is as good a way as any other.

Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and Crom, just so you get to know me a little better:

I apologize for not making as much sense as I should. I'm fairly certain I'm getting -- have been progressively getting -- stupider as the years go on. The trouble is, I still think I'm as smart as I used to be. So I say the dumbest things and think I'm not being dumb, and only later catch myself. Sometimes.

I'm totally sincere when I say this, by the way. No irony or sarcasm or anything intended. My brain just isn't working as well as it used to.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Per your recommendation yesterday I spent some time at your blogs, and I read some of your writings and saw some of your work. In addition, I read your clarifications higher in this thread and believe that I may have misjudged you. I do not apologize for my aggressive stance on the issue of draftees and MIA's - but I do apologize to you for my attack since you are not guilty of what I accused you of. I have strong feelings regarding the whole Vietnam issue, since my family is personally affected by the POW/MIA issue in North Vietnam. I do not wish to elaborate on that, but I am one of those with the POW/MIA sticker on the back of my truck. On the other hand, I do not have the redneck paraphernalia normally associated with that sticker, no Osama/Coward stickers or Calvin pissing on the Taliban or any other such nonsense. The three decorations on the glass of my rear window are the POW/MIA sticker, an American flag and an NRA sticker.

After reading some of your posts, I find that you and I may agree on more than you would imagine - although I believe we arrived at similar conclusions through very disparate methods. I am not much of an artist, although I am an author. I am a Cold War dinosaur, and this has colored much of my worldview. In my defense, I am open-minded enough to recognize that there are many things that I have ignored in my pursuits and now that I have the wisdom of years I am starting to realize that 'there are more things in Tennessee than are dreamt of in my philosophy', hence my blogging endeavours. I have decided to pursue more things aesthetic, and I imagine I will have many other ham-handed questions in the future. These are not meant to be insulting, I am just an exceptionally linear person beginning to discover the occasional hyperbola.

Crom

Chris Rywalt said...

Believe me when I say, Crom, I am sorry for anything that happened in Vietnam which affected your family. My father volunteered for Vietnam but was turned down for high blood pressure; the closest anyone in my family has gotten, therefore, is my wearing of a Vietnam-era jacket. (It was new old stock twenty years ago; now it looks like it might actually have been in Vietnam.)

Vietnam is another case of American politicians recklessly squandering the good and proper feelings of the American people. I just wish we weren't so easy to hoodwink so often. We lost a young Marine one town south of here recently; the local papers are suddenly interested in the war in Iraq and the high school and town signs have memorials to this young man on them. What touched me about this was he joined the Marines right after September 11, 2001, because he wanted to stand up for his country. And what was done with him was, in my opinion, unconscionable.

Anyway. I'm frequently an idiot, but I wouldn't be surprised, despite this, to find we do agree on some things.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Chris has already said this better than I could. But I think it's important to keep in mind the vast difference between the principles of "the left" (as if there is any such monolith) and the various nightmares of totalitarianism that occurred during the 20th century.

I can't find any illogic in believing that one of government's jobs is redistribution of resources, without believing that government ought to control individuals' thoughts & personal expression. It is also, I must point out, possible to be totalitarian without being leftist. Look at the Taliban.

People love to conflate ideas that are not related. Our current political climate is rife with this. ("You do not think the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq; ergo you are a terrorist-loving coward." "You believe children thrive best in stable two-parent families; ergo you hate gay people.") These are both idiotic statements, but they pass for logic in today's political arena.

In the same way, the belief that government should be involved in deciding who gets how much of a nations's resources does not automatically mean support for totalitarianism. Certainly a deep thinker can find ways to tie these two philosophies together. Perhas one, in the real world, runs a serious risk of leading to the other.

Or perhaps not. One can find examples of "leftist" countries with *very* free artists. Look at Denmark.

I don't know if most artists think this clearly or this far. PL's comments are probably far closer to the way many artists actually think. Still, as Crom so insightfullly noted, this particular conflation is a Cold War relic.

Beck

prettylady said...

preoccupation with such matters as English spelling and grammar -- which are, after all, largely arbitrary concepts -- does not say good things about one's maturity.

I beg your pardon.

First, if Danny didn't know I was teasing, he wouldn't be Danny. So although I appreciate your stalwart defense of him, I do not consider that he needs one.

Second, I myself was ALSO expanding upon Danny's point, by demonstrating in real-time how a simultaneous usage of linear logic and right-brained vision can not only make mincemeat of sloppy thinking, but entertain and enlighten as well. I do not consider that the left and right brains need operate exclusively of one another, and indeed they are dangerous when they attempt to do so.

Third, my point stands; if one does not intimately understand the logic and structure of the English language, not only are one's communications difficult to parse with any clarity, but one's own thinking has a tendency toward the muddy and the impotent as well. As Beck points out, unrelated ideas can become conflated, cause and effect becomes obscured, and emotion supercedes logic.

And I will have you know that every single egregious violation of English grammar that Pretty Lady commits with insouciant frequency may have been spewed forth by her right brain, but has been submitted to the left for review, and given a pass of approval. For logical reasons.

danonymous said...

I like the meat on the bone.
SO thank you Chris and thank you PL.
Just a couple of quick notes....
IN PL portion...logical thinking etc making mince meat of...etc.
I have to take exception to that.
High end correct lingual usage is generally a class conscious exclusionary vehicle...one must first reach the other person's standards to begin discussion. For myself, I have found that if I ignore the premise of that position, then communication is possible between myself and the "other". If I accept the premise then I am always on the defensive, protecting turf and ideas rather than using the commmunication to explore and further the conversation.
What appears to be sloppy thinking...often is....but one still has to pay close attention to discern the difference between sloppy thinking and thinking that follows a different line than one is familiar with.
Ultimately, the goal is not correct language usage but communication. Often the communication is what is left out.
ahhh....that's enopugh for now.
I had just sent a long winded explanation and defense of a point I wanted to make, but PL's blog so sagely sent a forgetaboutid message.....which made me respect PL even more. Her blog sends an error message to nicely dissuade garbage from appearing as text. Kudos. Howya do dat?

Chris Rywalt said...

Beck sez:
I can't find any illogic in believing that one of government's jobs is redistribution of resources, without believing that government ought to control individuals' thoughts & personal expression.

Actually, Beck, you said it much better than I did. Exactly right.

My conception of government is that it's a tool for doing things that require a large group of people cooperating. We could all carry our garbage individually to the dump ourselves; we could all hire our own individual companies to do so. Instead, we elect representatives who hire a single company to take care of the garbage. Similarly, we could all arm ourselves and attempt to defend the U.S. as individuals, but that would sort of suck. So instead we elect some people to pool our resources and manage the defense of our nation for us.

The big argument being framed here as right-versus-left or conservative-versus-liberal, to my mind, is really a question of what kinds of things we want to use the tool of government for. A small number of people used the Soviet government to send poets to Siberia. A small number of people used the American government to pull Saddam Hussein out of a spider hole, after many of the same small number of people had spent years giving him money and shaking his blood-soaked hand. It's easy to agree that these are probably not the things we would like governments to be doing.

But should the government give money to poor people? Should the government pay doctors to treat people without the patients paying for it directly? Should the government consider fetuses to be human beings or collections of cells?

These are all, really, separate questions. The sad thing is so many people think you can take set stances on all these issues and thereby set yourself on one side or the other of an imaginary aisle.

I prefer to think we should be thinking seriously about each individual answer.

Anonymous said...

Danonymous said,
Ultimately, the goal is not correct language usage but communication. Often the communication is what is left out.


How true!

And certainly, stuffy grammar "rules" can be used as an exclusionary vehicle. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that throwing sentence fragments around is much aid to clear thinking.

Interestingly, other languages than English have different rules about whether "complete sentences" require clear subjects, verbs, and objects. These differing structures can make it possible to think rather differently than we think in English; a useful thing to remember in cross-cultural dialogue.

It is also possible to write grammatically correct garbage.

Still, following basic grammar and style rules can really help one organize one's thoughts. They can prompt one to ask, "Who is doing what? How does this lead to that?"

I don't know how often I've sat down to explain something in writing and realized that my "position" was inconsistent. This tends to happen when I'm trying to justify something or hide something from myself.

Had I been expressing myself in a free-form, nonlinear manner, I'm not sure I would have ever realized that. I would have been satisfied that I'd expressed myself, reiforced my opinions by expressing them, and gone along my merry way.

I have heard it said that what you communicate is not what you *mean,* but what the person you are communicating with *understands* you to mean. If they don't understand you, then you, not they, have failed.

This is probably a little harsh; no matter how many times a physicist explains string theory to me, I'm probably not going to understand it, and that doesn't make my physics teacher a failure.

Still, I find a recipient focus useful when I'm trying to communicate effectively. It doesn't matter how eloquent, or logical, or nonlinear I am. If you don't get it, then I didn't make sense.

Beck

Anonymous said...

Chris says,

The big argument being framed here as right-versus-left or conservative-versus-liberal, to my mind, is really a question of what kinds of things we want to use the tool of government for.

Well put, Chris.

It makes me think (to bring the coversation back around to where we started) of Ambrogio Lorenzetti's paintings, "The Allegory of Good Government." The individual pantings portray the *effects* of good (and bad) government. Not the means, not the structure, not the size of government; its effects.

We get so caught up in "how" and "whether" government should do certain things. It's easy to lose sight of a more basic question: where do we want our nation & society to go? If we could wave a wand and implement all our wished-for political changes tomorrow, what do we think would happen?

Once we put those thoughts on the table, we can start asking the harder questions. Are our wished-for political solutions really going to result in the scenario we're dreaming of? Is government actually the right tool? If so, applied how?

Then possibly as a culture we could start experimenting and checking our assumptions, preferably on a small scale.

Society is complicated and our rapidly changing technology creates surprising social changes. So this is *not* an easy or short-term task. Still, if we don't talk about where we want to go, how will we ever figure out how to get there?

So much of today's political discourse is focused squarely on the "how." I feel like that's the last question to answer, not the first. Starting with "how" makes it nearly impossible to find common ground, dooming us to rhetorical wrangling and ugly compromises. If we started with common ground, maybe we'd have the opportunity to take intelligent actions and generate useful feedback, in the interest of creating better & better policies over time.

Beck

jackadandy said...

Regards to all, and I note that I have been both appreciative of and impatient with this discussion.

If I may add my own observation regarding "correct language", it absolutely is used as a class barrier. It also is an indispensible tool to the progress of thought and effectiveness of communication.

I see this constantly in my own work of helping working-class people organize around political issues. It keeps coming back to the language and the necessity of being able to clearly articulate one's position - necessary for the sake of the individual, necessary for the solidarity of the group, and necessary for the furthering of winning strategies in the public arena.

I make it my job to assist in bridging that gap between people's ordinary speech and the more exacting demands of communication and persuasion across political lines. It seems to be one of the most useful things I can do. And somehow I manage to do it without ever looking down on any language "insufficiences" of the folks I'm working with, or leaving them feeling improperly expressed.

Communication is, indeed, the ultimate goal, and it's something we can all take responsibility for.