Sunday, May 20, 2007

Peculiar techniques of writing

[It] gives rise to a peculiar technique of writing, and therewith to a peculiar type of literature, in which the truth about all crucial things is presented exclusively between the lines. That literature is addressed not to all readers, but to trustworthy and intelligent readers only.
No, not John Carey grumbling about modernists again but Leo Strauss on what happens when writers are persecuted. Does that include by philistine cultural commentators?

The quote comes from Devorah Baum's review of Leora Batnitzky's Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation. It goes on:
The philosopher, because he is always parasitic on society, occupies the position of someone persecuted. Esoteric writing thus reflects the tension between theory and practice since, Strauss argues, the wise philosopher will wish to avoid cruelty. He will take care, in other words, to propel his interlocutor toward a greater critical stance without imprudently (or cruelly) destroying his worldview. And so, rather than being the elitist or even fascist idea that has enraged so many of his critics, Strauss's notion of esotericism is simply, according to Batnitzky, an entirely sensible and even generous educational tool.

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