Politics deals with facts.

Because of politics’ nature and scope, politics deals with every immediate fact in the world; immediate facts change quickly into new facts—one future fact can upset all that went before—the political side of the debate you were on can completely give way.  All sides are therefore wary of facts—because one fact might disrupt a carefully built-up partisanship, and it is the nature of politics to cause you to invest in a side.

Further, since all political facts are interconnected, any argument against the bad is useless, since the bad contaminates all; any attempt to point fingers, to distance yourself from the bad, is hopeless, for the bad stains you as well as everyone else, whether your free will has anything to do with it or not; in your attempt to separate the bad out and be apart from it, your argument itself only increases the bad’s social effect.  Likewise, any political argument dealilng with the good is self-defeating as well, since the good manifests itself most authentically in private and loses its virtue once public recognition for it is sought.

This is why political arguments invariably go round in circles, and why they often cause so much hurt and pain.  Politics is both too large and too one-sided to be reasonable.

Aesthetics is poisoned by politics more than we know; the latter is seductive (taking a side is a strong temptation) and insinuates itself into the former.  One must be passive to appreciate beauty; one must be gentle to appreciate sweet and delicate music; aesthetic appreciation requires a certain amount of receptivity; unfortunately this passive state is the condition to best be infected with political messages. Aesthetic pursuit, therefore, must always be wary of political interference.

The political can even be mistaken for the aesthetical outright, since the hero is at the bottom of both in our hopes and dreams.  The leader who will save us is similar to the advice in a poem that will save us—at the center of politics and poetry stands the wise leader or the wise poet—we give ourselves to these others, whether in political side-taking or in the falsely passionate worship of art:  the poem is not talking to you, the heroic poet is; the policy is not the real attraction, the political leader is.  We should be wary of this, for it is a powerful example of how the political mimics the aesthetic, and how the aesthetic can be betrayed, and used, and destroyed.

Aesthetics does not care for icons.  The audience is elevated, the poet depressed; the leader fades away in the enlightenment of the audience.  Aesthetics is truly democratic.

Aesthetics does not depend on immediate facts; it is only the way facts combine which interests the artist; individual facts have no place in aesthetics; no legal proof can be brought to bear against aesthetic revery; facts combining—in order to disappear—is the true artistical creed; the very opposite of political cunning which discerns every clear and isolated fact for an advantage.

Political cunning would shun the bad and embrace the good hypocritically—the artist finds the underlying truth of bad and good as qualities used for a higher purpose. The values which politics would willfully assert are demolished by the artist, even as the artist might steal tricks for a higher purpose from the political legerdemain.

Unlike the political creature who fears the suddenly disclosed fact, the artist burns to have every new fact, every old fact, and every surprising fact, at their disposal, because no fact can do the artist harm by upsetting or flipping an argument; the facts are used by the artist as facts in the very act of demolishing them—the use of facts to the artist is closer to what facts really are; the political debater is all about lining up the facts in the right way, a display which is finally a hollow gesture.

Politics leads to arrogance, lying, hypocrisy, shallowness and stupidity.

Aesthetics leads to love, humility, pleasure, sweetness, and truth.




  1. The Old Man said,

    August 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Nicely done. You massage a truth forgotten in recent decades.

  2. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    November 29, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Ezra’s Dead.

    Pound should have used the toilet paper, that he scrawled his Pisan Cantos on, to wipe his ass.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    November 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Time, not Ezra’s ass, will erase him.

  4. Diane Roberts Powell said,

    November 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    He was an ass. I just cannot believe how many English profs defend him.

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