ing the equation, and nowhere do wenfind starker evidence of this crisis than innthe present sorry state of literacy in ournnation—a state, ironically, which givesnstriking vitality to every cultural opposition.nIn part, literacy is feeling hard timesnbecause it has been successfully usurpednby the utilitarian crowd—those who seenfilling out a job application or reading andriving manual as the upper boundariesnof “functional literacy.” But this is thenliteracy of control, of fitting in with writtenndirectives from above. True literacynhas something to do with the mysteries ofnmeaning-making, with the paradoxicalnrelationship between writers who write toncapture and interpret lived and imaginednexperience and the reading publicnthat enters into critical dialogue withnthese images and judgments. Thusnevoked, literacy is fundamental to thenhealth of a culture, because it is in thisntransaction between writers and readersnthat the values of a people are asserted,nassessed and affirmed. Our moral energynis no finer than the stories by which wenstand. In telling our own tales and innevaluating those of others we blend ournseparateness with the rhythms of humanity;nwe define our uniqueness in thenface of the shared necessities of groupnconstraints.nOur roots of self-determination springnemphatically from the Protestant liberationnof the Sacred Texts. Once the centralnauthority of the Vulgate was broken bynits translation into the spoken languagesnof the people (and widely disseminatednvia the printing press), interpretation nonlonger was an exclusionary act. Such dispersalnof authority has always been anthreat to existing arrangements, but it isnexactly what a healthy society needs—innthe right proportion. The individual’snunique interpretation of texts continuesnto be our primary defense against tyranny.nSo it is not surprising that vested interestsnare constantly striving to create anconformity of response.nA poem, a play, a novel—each plotsnout and organizes a moral stance towardnan experience. Through our transactionsnwith texts we generate and come to knownsystems of value; indeed, our very respondingnrepresents an act of positivenobstinacy. The direction in which ournsympathies flow, the choices that wenmake from among competing alternatives,ncharacterize tentative progressntoward civilized coherence. As we stmgglenwith the options in life, with thendivided loyalties between self and others,nas we seek to mediate the tension betweennindividual fulfilknent and institutionalnconstraint, as we rest balanced betweennconvention and innovation, ourninherent need to see representations ofnactual and potential events of our livesnpropels us forward in search of a meaningnwhich corresponds to our sense of justicenand discretion, of liberty and sanity. Thenresulting explanatory fictions define ournidentities. They are finally our integrity.nThey make independence possible.nBelieving in these tmths, we naturallynadvocate approaches to the teaching ofnliteracy which develop the powers of anstudent/citizen to appropriate the literarynwork for himself, to be secure in thendistinction between pronouncementnand judgment. The current scene, however,nprovides overwhelming evidencenIn the Mailnthat we have failed to create independentnreaders. Consequently, we are hardpressednto expose much of what passes fornwisdom in today’s publishing circles.nSince our countervailing intelligence isnundermined, some relish the orgiastic,ncollectivist howl that is called contemporarynliterature. Such readers have beennso conditioned to look to the pronouncementsnof others for the latest trends thatnthey are unable to recognize exploitation,neven when they are deluged by thenlatest hypocritical assault on their unsuspectingnsensibilities. Yet the problemngoes deeper than the erosion of criticalnfaculties. The reader has lost dominionnover his response; the marketplace hasnbecome oppressive.nBut why have powers of discernmentnatrophied so severely? An attentivenreading of Writers at Work and BestnSeller begins to suggest reasons for thencurrent dependent state of literacy innAmerica.nWriters at Work is the fifth in thenseries of Paris Review interviews withncontemporary writers begun in 1953- Asnwith earlier volumes, a reader can gainnsignificant insights into the craft of writ-nAnyone for InsomniaPhy Kdintd Aimout; Woodbridge Press; Santa Barbara, CA. An amusingnlittle book about sleep: particularly the lack of it and how to get it.nPrivatizing the Public Sector: How to Shrink Government by E.S. Savas; Chatham House;nChatham, NJ. Commissioned by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, this book showsnhow governments become bloated and how to reduce them via the private sector.nHoover Essays; The Hoover Institution; Stanford, CA. Press clippings of stories by Hoovernfellows, staff, and authors that appeared in magazines and newspapers.n”Codetermination in the West: The Case of Germany,” The Heritage Lectures No. 10 by StevenPejovich; The Heritage Foundation; Washington, D.C. Codetermination—labor participationnin management—is shown to be a potent enemy of capitalism.n”Cutting the Government: How is Reagan Doing?” The Heritage Lectures No. 11 by DonaldnLambro; The Heritage Foundation; Washington, D.C. This address explains how governmentnspending—the Reagan Administration’s efforts notwithstanding—is still freely flowing.n”The Political Future of American Trade Unions,” The Heritage Lectures No. 12 by John Burton;nThe Heritage Foundation; Washington, D.C. Possible paths for American unions are examined,nbased on those of their British brethren.nnnM^^HSInOctober 1983n