I wonder why it’s considered so much more clever to be able to hide things in writing, to use symbolism, to say one thing that actually means something else entirely.
Why do we even use symbolism and metaphor and analogy and synecdoche? Why do we write fiction to speak to reality?
It seems to me that there are two levels of the profound… on the first level, those who can say something meaningful, on a higher level, those who can say something profound and hide it.
We tell politicians and children to say what they mean and mean what they say. We are awed by philosophers and writers and thinkers for doing exactly the opposite.
The hidden profundities are those which usually come in the form of fiction or a play or abstract, often free-verse poetry in which there are words arranged in such a way that they say something that seems to make no sense… but leave the reader knowing that because it seems to make no sense, it must mean something beyond the surface level of thought. That which baffles and perplexes us earns our admiration. There is some insight into the human condition which only the author possesses and most readers can only marvel and wonder at.
Hidden profundity is the couture of the intellectual elite.
Their words must not be read, but analyzed one at a time, in fragments, as a whole, forwards, backwards, sideways, inside-out and upside-down, to find the words that hide behind the words. They must mean something!
(Except, of course, in the case of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” one of the few pieces of literary art which truly does, in fact, mean nothing at all.)