2004 : WHAT'S YOUR LAW?

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Editor, The Feuilleton (Arts and Essays), of the German Daily Newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich
Kreye's Law of Literalism

When devaluated information makes opinion an added value, the law of literalism is permanently questioned, while remaining the last resort of reason.

The inflation of available information has devaluated word and image to mere content. The resulting perception fatigue is increasingly met with the overused rhetorical tool of polarizing opinion. It’s based on an old trick used by street vendors. In the intellectual food court of mass media, opinion appeals to reflexes just as the fried fat and sugar smells of snackfood outlets activate age-old instincts of hunting and gathering. In the average consumer opinion triggers an illusion of enlightenment and understanding that ultimately clouds the reason of literalism.

Literalism is freedom from credo, dogma and philosophical pessimism. It’s the process of finding reality driven by an optimistic faith in its existence. It tries to transcend the limits of the word, by permanently questioning any perception of reality.

Belief and ideology, the strongest purveyors of opinion, have long known the language of science and reason. Creationists use secular reasoning to demand that schools stop teaching the laws of evolution. Right-wing radicals and religious fundamentalists of all creeds tone down their world visions to fit into an opinionated consensus. Economic and political forces use selective findings to present their interests as fact.

Literalism can become an exhausting effort to defend the principles of fact and reason in a polarized world. The complex and often boring nature of factual reality makes it an unglamorous voice amid a choir of sparkling witticisms and provocations. Devoid of the ecstasies and spiritual cushioning of religion it denies age old longings. It can be decried as heresy or simultaneously accused of treason by all sides. It must sustain the insecurities brought on by the absence of ultimate truth. Having been the gravitational center of enlightenment, it must be defended as the last resort of reason.