Misanthropes have some admirable if paradoxical virtues. It is no exaggeration to say that we are among the nicest people you arelikely to meet. Because good manners build sturdy walls, our distaste for intimacy makes us exceedingly cordial "ships that pass in the night." As long as you remain a stranger we will be your friend forever.
Time has lost all meaning in that nightmare alley of the Western world known as the American mind. We wallow in nostalgia but manage to get it all wrong. True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories... but American-style nostalgia is about as ephemeral as copyrighted d?j? vu.
As the only class distinction available in a democracy, the college degree has created a caste society as rigid as ancient India's. Condemning elitism and simultaneously quaking in fear that our children won't become members of the elite, we send them to college, not to learn, but to "be" college graduates, rationalizing our snobbery with the cliché that high technology has eliminated the need for the manual labor that we secretly hold in contempt.
The feminization of America has made emotions sacrosanct while condemning as cold and unfeeling rigorous concepts such as duty andhonor. Propelled by incessant hosannas to woman's "finer" this and "softer" that, we make emotional decisions instead of ethical ones and then congratulate ourselves for having "heart.
The confidence and security of a people can be measured by their attitude toward laxatives. At the high noon of the British sun, soldiers in far-flung outposts of the Empire doctored themselves with "a spoonful o' gunpowder in a cuppa 'ot tea." Purveyors and users of harsh laxatives were not afraid of being thought mean and unfriendly just because their laxatives were. But in America, the need to be nice is so consuming that nobody would dare take a laxative that makes you run up the stairs two at a time, pushing others aside and yelling, "Get out of the... Read more »
Owning your own home is America's unique recipe for avoiding revolution and promoting pseudo-equality at the same time. To keep citizens puttering in their yards instead of sputtering on the barricades, the government has gladly deprived itself of billions in tax revenues by letting home owners deduct mortgage interest payments.
To me, elitism means a love of excellence and superiority, but America has declared war on both and developed a sick love of the lowest common denominator to make sure no-one becomes too fine for our touted democracy. We are almost at the point of regarding every virtue as elitist.
The American way of stress is comparable to Freud's 'beloved symptom', his name for the cherished neurosis that a patient cultivates like the rarest of orchids and does not want to be cured of. Stress makes Americans feel busy, important, and in demand, and simultaneously deprived, ignored, and victimized. Stress makes them feel interesting and complex instead of boring and simple, and carries an assumption of sensitivity not unlike the Old World assumption that aristocrats were high-strung. In short, stress has become a status symbol.
The vitamin has been reified. A chemical intangible originally defined as a unit of nutritive value, it was long ago reified into a pill. Now it is a pill; no one except a few precise scientists define it as anything else. Once the vitamin became a pill, it became real according to the precepts of American Cartesianism: I swallow it, therefore it is.
One of life's intriguing paradoxes is that hierarchical social order makes cheap rents and outré artists' colonies possible. Raffish bohemian neighborhoods flourished in the days of racial segregation; under integration the artistic poor have no safe places in which to create.... If America lacks a vigorous culture it is partly because studios and ateliers have become crack houses.
The American woman's concept of marriage is a clearly etched picture of something uninflated on the floor. A sleeping-bag withoutair, a beanbag without beans, a padded bra without pads. To work on it, you start pumping--what the magazines call "breathing life into your marriage." Do enough of this and the marriage becomes a kind of Banquo's ghost, a quasi-living entity.
Americans respect talent only insofar as it leads to fame, and we reserve our most fervent admiration for famous people who destroy their lives as well as their talent. The fatal flaws of Elvis, Judy, and Marilyn register much higher on our national applause meter than their living achievements. In Amerca, talent is merely a tool for becoming famous in life so you can become more famous in death - where all are equal.
Thank God I'm over the hill. The only heat I have left comes from hot flashes, my promiscuity is confined to the words "one size fits all," and I buy my white cotton unmentionables at Boadicea's Retreat, not Victoria's Secret. None of the things men do to women could possibly happen to me now unless the U.S. is invaded by one of those new Russian republics whose soldiers aren't fussy.
"Very" is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. For example, would you rather hear the mincing shallowness of "I love you very much" or the heart-slamming intensity of "I love you"?