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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What is, What was, What will be America?

To borrow from Frank Zappa, America is not a time or place,it's a state of mind. (OK, OK I know,Zappa said it about High School, not America). But he did sing, "Mr America,Try to hide the emptiness that's you inside". That was from Freak Out!, recorded in 1966. You can hear it on Wikipedia. If that's what Zappa saw in 1966, I am glad he was spared seeing what the zeitgeist in America is today.

For the last year or so, my mind has often wondered to some of my experiences living near London in 1991 and 1992. I spent a lot of time hanging out with locals, at work, at the pub, and every Sunday with The Downs And Wealds Rambling Club, hiking all over the region and talking about whatever was on our minds each quiet Sunday.

As I got to know my erstwhile British neighbors, I was at first confused, then alarmed at the fatalistic outlook toward life, the universe, and everything that put a negative bias into almost every one's thinking. Fatalism was like the fog, always there in the background, undeniably British, but not very pleasant.

I feel like a similar mass fatalism has settled into the minds of Americans over the last few years. My feelings are similar to this article in The Spectator, a British magazine. In the article, Patric Allitt, a British expatriate who is a History professor at Emory University, comes to a similar conclusion. His short article coincides with what I've been thinking, with the exception that he is a lot more erudite.

I hope we're both wrong. Or else America's troubles are just beginning.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Anonymous said...

Good post, and a good article. I agree with your basic premise - but would prefer to discuss over beer. The article was good, but his contention (at the end) that America used to "welcome immigrants with open arms" speaks to a total lack of knowledge of American history.


Steve said...

I wanted to be nice to the author, but you caught the big canard.

I suspect the author's error lies in
the never-ending Anglocectrism of British academics.

U.S. immagration was always open to the British (at least the white English ones). Therefore, a Brit ignores the obvious fact that until the 1960s, the borders were nearl closed to anyone from anywhere besides Western Europe.

I always get a kick out of pre- millenial Medieval history, where if you read the dominant stuff controlled by the OxBridge cabal, you'd think that Constantinople and the Caliphates were a side show and two-penny Northern Euriopean warlords actually mattered in the workld.

Anonymous said...

re: your last paragraph - reminds me of all the BS pagans running around - who idealize Northern European mythology to the exclusion of everything else (except for the constant ripoff of Native American beliefs, but that goes beyond just them).

Steve said...

Pagans and Goddess Worship in the same week!

It just doesn't get better than that

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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