In an earlier post, I expressed concern about blogging too honestly when the spiders are there to index everything and anyone can find what you write easily. I guess I must’ve internalized Orwell’s edicts on writing pretty well because something like esotericism never even crossed my mind. I’m a fan of very direct writing. Obfuscation is pretty much a sin to me, when it comes to writing. I once apologized to a professor for an essay title because I was worried that it didn’t actually mean anything. So it seemed like my only options were to write privately or not at all.
But maybe I should rethink that. I recently found this book review via the Dish. The book is about someone investigating Strauss:
Staying far away from questions of foreign (or any other kind of) policy, Melzer has chosen as his subject Strauss’ notorious assertion that virtually all philosophers up until the early 19th century wrote their books “esoterically” — that is, using a rhetoric of concealment, with a surface teaching meant for general readers and a hidden teaching for those who were intelligent, clever, and tenacious enough to uncover it. This contention has been dismissed by most non-Straussian scholars, who have tended to suggest that Strauss projected the phenomenon onto most of the canonical authors he discussed in his many learned books and essays.
I find the concept intriguing and it could be a solution to my current conundrum of public writing in a hostile world. Even though it offends my sensibilities, I’m actually not completely unfamiliar with esotericism. I once wrote about The Prince in this blog and incorrectly identified the book as subversive. I think esoteric is the more proper term. Well, I’m less sure that it’s proper for The Prince, but 100% sure that it can be properly assigned to The Art of War.
Now that I’ve mentioned my interest in this, I guess I’ve opened up a can of worms in interpreting all my future writing. Even if I denied that something had a hidden meaning, that’s what someone would say even if there was a hidden meaning.
I haven’t made a decision yet about what to do. I still find brutal honesty a very appealing quality in writing; it’s a common thread I’ve seen in work that I like the best (both other people’s and my own).
I want to write and it’s important to me, but I have other goals that are just as or more important that may conflict with writing. Esotericism may be a way to have my cake and eat it too.