American Virtue
by David Eide .

What confusions one goes through! One moment a guy thinks he is the greatest scholar in history, the next he thinks he is slow as mud and can't count to 100 much less think about some intimate aspect of life today.

The wonderful thing is that everything is available; everything is alive, on-line so to say.

The rains began today.

Difficult as it is one has to be explicit about what is good and healthy about the culture. Just as hatred of society is a fabrication so too is love of society. What one loves about American society:

  1. It is the repository of ancient, European, and world cultures. It is a resource in the strictest sense without which the culture dies. There is no self-contained, self-generated culture in the United States. The world cultures of the past are a tension against which one can flex his or her own innate self. America, then, to understand itself has to understand the last 3-4,000 of human history.
  2. It forces one to break the natural mind which I come to believe is more in the dark than the light. It is enough to acknowledge the dark and scramble for the light that is perceived from time to time. These are the dark aspects of the "natural mind": Repression, racism, violence, brutality, cynicism, ignorance, among other. The rational, enlightened types were right in that when men and women are free in the truest sense of the word they slither out of the dark, natural mind and expect more from their fellow creatures.
  3. It scorns ideology. That is what is so depressing about the recent success of the right-wing ideologues. When America becomes ideological, duck. It means that Americans have lost that purity of intent that marked their wide-eyed youth. The ideologue dominates through fear and lowers the ability to think, top, down. It is through ideology that America will cast off its democracy as the strong-minded will excise their freedom and give themselves over to collective schemes since they will be forced to admit that they, as strong individuals, have nothing to contribute or do. This kills initiated and that restless searching that knows no bounds; that geographical imagination that is the inheritance of the westward movement. The ideologue kills all of this and pits one identification against another identification to the death. In politics it rarely works out creatively. It becomes a demoralizing groupism that then robs the citizen of the feeling that he or she is part of the society.
  4. America is the only place where pure categories have a chance of being embodied and, if not lived out, at least made real, thus integrating experience with intelligence. It forces one to finally decide what is best in one's view. What is the measurement? What is the great value? What is the profound forms and so on? The "soul problem" for America today is that it is a world power coming out of 25 years of economic success, urbanized and rootless and commanded by some of its worst elements.
  5. It intuitively knows when it has been beaten to death by guilt or fear and will move on.

Well, those are some positive aspects of this society, a genuine and great society that is hard to define and yet right in some ambiguous way. The great European critics would have loved America and would have changed the nature of their criticism. For a precious moment you accept all the general aspects of American life and try to learn from them.

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