Post-structuralists and postmodernists deny the idea that there is any underlying truth to our lives. The entire literary system is predicated on the idea that there are fundamental differences separating us from the rest of the world, embedded in the very language we use to describe that world. In short, we can’t find literary truth anymore then we can find real truth; everything is unplanned, unstructured, deviant, random.
I call bullshit on that idea. I’m a bit of a journalist, and underlying every single thing about journalism is the idea that if you dig hard enough and look long enough, you can find out the facts or the truth of a given case. Not The Facts or The Truth, because that’s not within a journalist’s purview. But the journalistic philosophy is that everything has a reason why it’s happened. Everything has a cause and a purpose, a genesis and a finish. The job of a journalist is to find out what’s happened.
Whether we can do that or not, those reasons do exist.
So to confront the nihilistic post-modernist attitude that says we can know nothing, that we’re fundamentally prevented from ever really knowing everything and fuck you guys, we all die alone…
I left this and came back, but there’s just one thing I want to say. I finished Catch-22 earlier today, and let me tell you, the postmodern trap that Joseph Heller builds up in that novel is breathtaking. It’s brilliant. There is no outside agency, there is no God, there is nothing benevolent in the authority figures and systems above us, there is nothing we ordinary people can count on for aid. There’s a system, and we’re trapped in that system with nothing but ourselves for guidance, and the only thing we can do to stop it is to go crazy and break the rules. That’s what Catch-22 says. That’s its enduring message.
But you know what?
I just finished listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, fourth movement. And I tell you this. It is impossible, for me anyway, to go into any kind of existential funk when I’m listening to that music. It simply is. And I’ll go further to say that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is the single greatest achievement of one human being, working on their own. That is artistic brilliance. It doesn’t get any better. You can hear God in that symphony. My dad told me that that symphony was about the “indomitable spirit of Man”, and I’ve never heard a better description of anything in my life. Listen to that when you’re funked out and stressed, and I guarantee you’ll lose your existential angst. Music like that, art like that, love like that, live like that… that’s what it’s all about, baby. Us. Humans. Making things that’ll last far beyond our lifetimes. Fuck the existential angst. The answer is all around us.