Sunday, October 19, 2008

american psyche - "naive but bright"

from george saunders's column in this weekend's guardian:

Now is a kind of calm-before-the-storm moment here in America. We have the [...] financial crisis, we have two wars going on, we have a vice-presidential candidate who, in terms of how she talks, she just, what she does is, phrases are added, which what that means, in terms of her meaning? Is, what she does is, puts new ones on, or conjoining, in order so that she, when speaking, can glean closer into that thing, which, hopefully, she has been meaning?

So that's reassuring. It's been a long time since we were led by someone whose command of the language was, in terms of how good he is, or were, no, not so hot, basically ungood, when looking upon it.

But not to worry. America's fine. Although I have, these past two years, made a lot of fun of America, like the smart-mouthed kid in the back seat of the car making fun of his family. Of course he loves his family, of course he believes in his family: he is the product of that family; that family is all he knows. His criticism can be seen as a form of engagement, of intimacy, of love, even.

America is having an identity crisis. On one side: fear, aggression, banality, xenophobia. On the other: hopefulness, humour, confidence in human nature, critical thought. This battle is not being fought along party lines; it is not the case that one party or candidate holds a monopoly on these positive virtues. No: it is more existential and every one of us is fighting it internally. Which country are we to be? The terrified, torturing, isolated bully; or the tolerant, slow-to-anger, naive-but-bright protector-of-the-poor? It's not altogether a new battle: the American heart - hell, maybe the human heart - has been divided along these lines for a long time. But here, in our time, it feels like the battle is heating up. So, as they used to say on TV: stay tuned.


heroineworshipper said...

To be manipulated to the point where hobos, beggers, ditch diggers, & those who will never earn enough to buy a house as long as they live are considered rich & the real estate speculators, home owners, middle managers, CEO's, & banking executives who are considered poor. That's the true mark of human nature.

Electro said...

So.. The next time I'm in the UK and my museum-freak brother wants to hit Nottingham... can I look you up?

Unknown said...

are you calling me a museum?

Electro said...

Sorry I was kind of drunk when I posted that. But my bro does have 2 PHD'S and loves museums.