A Matter of InterpretationJuly 12, 2011 | Print |
As Antoin de Saint-Exupery said in The Little Prince, “Words are a source of misunderstanding,” and those of us who write are prone to be interpreted in various ways. Literature of any genre will be deciphered by the readers according to their own visions and interests.
In one of my published materials (“They Live Very Happily”), what caught my attention was the variety of observations raised, especially by Anglophone commenters.
For example, a Canadian pointed out to me:
- “Keep in mind that Chomsky is referring to the media and the population outside of Cuba” (something about which I’m totally aware).
- He also commented that all education is indoctrination, but that there is a much higher literacy rate in Cuba than in the US or in Canada – his country (something I haven’t completely confirmed, but which I don’t question.)
- And finally, he wrote asserting that in Canada (and in the US) there is “democracy,” but the majority of people don’t bother to vote; likewise, they have “freedom of the press” but few people bother to read. Apathy is rampant and the majority of people remain dazed in a consumer’s trance endlessly pursuing the accumulation of more and more. (This last point actually turns out to be far from the purpose of my writing.)
In no way am I trying to make a comparison between those commenters’ societies and ours here in Cuba. I’m only talking about the situation here and establishing analogies with Chomsky’s writings, because though he writes referring to other situations, they do hold approximations about life here as well. Chomsky is a point of departure to illustrate how all societies — whichever ones in question — are unable to escape the media manipulation exercised by the dominant classes.
I’ll allow myself to reintroduce an excerpt from another one of my writings: “The mediocre person isimmersed in ignorance, without great aspirations, accommodating themself to a rudimentary life, accepting common day-to-day routine, as if believing that nothing else existed. Coexisting and being with so little (or better stated: and believing that with so little) they are happy. They are not interested in exploring further on. Their radius of action is tiny, it becomes as limited as their neuron fields…”
I underlined the words “mediocre person” and I believe — dear commenters — that mediocre people exist in all societies and that they have always existed. It’s only that they fall prey more easily to manipulation and to those who can impose their ideologies and ways of life without running into resistance.
Another commenter said: “I’m quite sure that Chomsky would be upset if any of his writings concerning power and authority were used as inspiration for Cubans to rebel against their government. The sole criticism that Chomsky sometimes makes is in connection with the US or development and western capitalism.”
I really don’t care a whole lot if Chomsky gets upset. Any published idea ceases to be the possession of the person who wrote it and becomes a part of the universal patrimony of human thought. Expressing my points of view regarding certain topics in our social context doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m fomenting some rebellion against the government (although people always want to see things like that, which is something else I don’t care too much about).
Chomsky questions totalitarian regimes, without specifying which. I believe there is totalitarianism exercised by all supremacist oligarchies. Their foundation is economic and as a consequence they generate patterns determined in their society. In addition there is another type of totalitarianism that is exercised by political rulers, and its foundation is social. These rulers impose not only a system but an ideology, where it doesn’t matter if it’s erred or if it’s what the population wants to believe. It’s the one that’s established!
If Chomsky is on the left and he sympathizes with socialism, that has nothing to do with his arguments resembling our truths. On the other hand, a while ago I read an article in the Juventud Rebelde newspaper (which is part of the official national media), criticizing “Yankee imperialism” using the writings of George Orwell, someone considered by many people to be an anti-communist.
That’s why my friends from wherever in the world, writing is a delicate occupation that like a great river can have many tributaries. The passageways of words are immense and indefinite, if — in the end — everything is a question of interpretation…