EXPERTISE
by David Eide .

There is so much to admire and to feel joy in the world. The superlative effort of young athletes for instance; the beautiful healthy bodies with their grace and skill and sportsmanship that lifts the spirits.

At the same time we learn terrible things about people- public officials- people who we have admired and they go down in our esteem and their name is tainted and there is reappraisal of what they actually achieved. Well we finally admit our attitude toward people, esp. renowned public officials was naive anyway. They are simply ambiguous characters who are formed by many different pressures, some of which are known to the public.

I think it works something like this: the people are gratified that other people are willing to take on the role of public servant. They realize that these public servants are drawn to power so that they have to keep an eye on them. The public servant, on the other hand, sees his "sacrifice" as an opportunity to enrich himself. The public realm then becomes a stepping stone to bigger and better things and that his future depends on how he responds to the various pressures he will come under.

For the citizen the number one question is the reality of problems and their need to be solved. The citizen must discover problems, publicize them, use all methods to ascertain the solution and keep on it. That is the job of citizen.

So he must simply list the problems that appear on the scene. He lists these problems and then he investigates to see if the problem is represented in the government anywhere. What agency, what public officials, what experts are working on the problem?

What are the proposed solutions? What are the authentic obstacles to their solution? The public official passes on but the citizen is eternal. And the responsibilities of the citizen are eternal.

Well, I was feeling excellent after watching young athletes. The beautiful women and their dedication for instance. The praise for the athlete is eternal as well; they are the exemplary ones.

The public servant is, and should be, subject to criticism and pressure. That is the first rung in understanding the nature of politics.

The other thing to think about is this, "what is the most significant thing to emerge out of youth?" It is the necessity not to waste anything, not to waste motion, not to waste thought, not to waste emotion. And for the public official is not to waste money and credibility. That is the great difficulty and every tradition has many injunctions against idleness, laziness, or corruption.

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In some ways I wanted to become an expert in all those fields that I felt shot out from; those that seemed to absorb the sad and fierce energy of the people. It seemed overwhelmingly true that the categories of existence were iron-clad and did not include my own passion. Therefore, I would have to make myself some kind of servile scholar and pundit on the categories of the world’s experience. It's just as true to think that the only way you can understand the world, then the life around you, is through experience; the practical, daily grind of work, fantasy, argument, calculation, reward and punishment that hounds people so much they attempt to escape through sex or movies or phony adventures or the violence of political opinions or pleasures of one sort of another. All of this is real enough and produces a world that I am a part of, therefore I'm obligated to know something of it. I'm obligated to know how it is organized, what problems it is attempting to solve, the players on the scene, the animating theories that drive its multiple structures. I became obsessed by this. In some foolish way I wanted to outdo the expert. If I had been a bit smarter I would have used the expert. I should have trusted what was available and gone on from there.

Literature and its variegated fields is my universe. I am attempting to produce literature. This is my goal. I use whatever resource I possess to do that very thing. I am on the track; I get thrown off the track.

The story and the way it is told. That is the meat of the matter.

Outside of that one attempts to appreciate or, at least, celebrate the world. More precisely, aspects of it because we know the world is often a rotten thing.

Outside of that one wants to know how the mechanisms of the world work and critique them or attempt to improve the civic responsibility that completes the nature of the world

I have attempted to adapt the interests I developed in the humanities (esp., history) to my own circumstances; to the understanding of the age I live in.

I have attempted to adapt forms of sociology and political philosophy to get some leverage on the society and its institutions. To do this without spoiling the life instinct is an art in itself.

I have attempted to adapt tomes of scientific thinking to the structure of everyday perception. That is, everyday perception brings to us a variety of objects and scenes. At some point they seem overwhelming so we have to bracket them out, isolate them and so forth. In these attempts I no doubt lost some of that inner vision that is needed to drive literary work. It has been a major effort to attempt to harmonize those aspects. If I had to choose between Homer and Max Weber I would choose Homer without question. If I had to choose between the prophets of the Old Testament and CW Mills, I would choose the prophets. Not without some hesitation.

One of the substantial difficulties with this attempt is that one attitude is attached to one aspect of the body politic and the other attitude is attached to another aspect of the body politic. They are usually contentious aspects; the ruled and the rulers, the elite and the commons and so forth.

Emotions become the substantial difficulty. The female aspect is charged with emotion. emotions deceive, they offer nothing but fear and superstition, they avoid the reality of the world, they build up and then explode in anger or violence. Nowhere can you escape the influence of emotions.

To gain a mature view of the emotions, that is a goal substantial enough.

To be able to draw a line and say, the emotions are being experienced below this line. I see them, they move me a bit, I am not impervious to them, they are an integral but not dominate feature of the existence. Above this line is the rational aspect, the intellect, which is observing and harmonizing perception to what has occurred in the past and what one wants to occur in the future.

In as much as the emotions conflict with the intellect there is difficulty. In my 20's, say from 18 to 30 years of age there was enormous conflict. My emotions were drawn to revolutionary proposals, to pure justice, to utopia and so forth and my intellect was drawn to tradition and to the perspective that the things I dreamed of were impossible.

They played havoc with my personal life. From 30 to 37 I would say the intellect has dominated and I have inculcated those aspects of life I had formerly denied or found difficult to reconcile with.

Does one see the conflict between science and religion in this prime division? In one the emotions are harmonizing the weak intellect to its project. In the other the intellect is pulling the weak emotions into the project.

Well this is something to be aware of. That certainly doesn't address the question as to what the emotions are and what the intellect is. Perhaps they can only be seen through expression; they can only be known through what they produce.

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What can one really say about this bloomin', strange life? The ineptitudes we are forced to overcome! Isn't there joy in that?

I have defended as well as I can the knowledge I think significant. There is a pragmatic knowledge, the securing of which pulls you over the burdens of alienation.

Experience is certainly important. If nothing else experience allows you to overcome your own perception. The initial experience is always a bug-a-boo. The world willfully distorts perception and experience brings it back to focus.

Political action is not so important in the beginning. But, to study the issues and come down on the side that, through study, you believe is the right one and the one that will help the society at large is important. Then, if you go further the knowledge of how to influence the political powers that be.

To attempt to discover the requirements of the world you inhabit is important. Futile perhaps but an excellent exercise.

It is important to feel a part of a community and to have intercourse with it once in awhile.

No wasted motions. The despair that emerges out of youth is the realization that so much motion was wasted, so much energy was squandered for no real purpose. It was petered away simply for the satisfaction of ego or physical body.

Perhaps I overdid it, perhaps I was correcting abuse too severely but regardless. I made the conscious choice to go in the direction I did and to make the sacrifices that I have and to value some things at the expense of other things. If people have conflict over this, it is their conflict and not mine.

Obviously in those stark moment when I look back I can see the mistake. I can see the oppression of circumstance. I can see the burdens that were draining energy away from my central concerns. The joy in life is to correct these things and go to next thing.

I really have nothing to look back to. The past has very much been prelude. The future waits. I embrace it with open arms.

1987


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