Distinguishing Reality from Vacuum
- Throughout the twentieth century, writers and thinkers who faced reality-destroying regimes kept producing similar recipes. “Live not by lies,” the Russian dissident novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote. The Czech dissident playwright and future President Václav Havel pondered the predicament of living, unquestioningly, “inside the lie”—and the uncanny power of stepping outside of it. In our case, stepping outside the lie means refusing—stubbornly, consistently, incrementally—to lend credence to the opposite of politics, the opposite of diplomacy, and the opposite of sanity. That would require thinking, reading, and speaking critically: not treating an outburst as though it were politics, a tantrum as though it were diplomacy, and a delusion as though it were aspiration. The good news is that this is not an entirely impossible task.