Is this YOUR American Dream?


Hey, don't look at me, those are the words of David Cameron at David was elected Leader of the Conservatives in December 2005, on a mandate to change the Party and change the country.

Those are inspiring words, most of what he is talking about is true---I mean, some of it is. But why is it that reading the entire article, one cannot help but think that those are just words and that there is more concern there on the part of the author about recapturing the electorate which has become disenchanted with the old orthodoxies than there is about actually reforming the old orthodoxies.

There is a name for this.

The French call it "la langue de bois."

And we call it:
Or lying "corporate style."

But in the end it all comes down to the same thing, doesn't it?

Pirandello referred to it as the tragedy of Orestes in a puppet theater:

"… Now listen to this crazy notion that just came to me! Let's suppose that at the very climax, when the puppet who represents Orestes is about to take his revenge on Aegisthus and his mother for his father's death, a great hole were suddenly torn in the paper sky of the theater, what would happen? … Orestes would still be bent on revenge, he would still be impatient to bring it about, but his eyes in that instant would be directed up there, to that ripped sky, where all kinds of evil influences would now filter down into the scene and he would feel his arms grow limp. Orestes, in other words, would become Hamlet. The whole difference, Signor Meis, between ancient and modern tragedy is just that, believe me: a hole in the paper sky. "
---Luigi Pirandello, The Late Mattia Pascal

Birds of a feather

Ionesco said it well:

"We know very well that Western humanism is bankrupt. We also know very well that the leaders of the Eastern countries no longer believe in Marxism. Absolute cynicism and a great biological vitality are all that remain of the revolutionary faiths and all that keeps its leaders in power---active in the struggle for power and world supremacy. Imperium mundi, to quote Oswald Spengler's prophetic definition."
---Ionesco on modern Politics

The French gave us the Statue of Liberty:

And we gave them the American Dream:

The dream lives on, both on this side of the Atlantic...

As on the other side:

 It's just that no one knows for sure anymore what the dream is exactly or how to get there . . .

. . . from here. Wulfshead Wulfshead Wulfshead


  1. I grew up in a very civilized household. I could come home in the late afternoon after playing handball (in those courts where NYU Law School now stands) several hours to have dinner with a Nobel Prize winner and would think nothing of it. Perhaps this background has slanted me. Art, writing, beauty all meant something in that distant world. Whatever you think of my father’s work, you may at least concede it is genuine. That is the first hurdle for all art. But when it comes to a discussion of quality I can rely upon the opinions of the renowned, great writers and artists who concurred my father’s work had value. Rightly or wrongly, this authentication bolsters my own vision of the world. It grew out of this world I lived in when I was a child. It had its lasting mark.

    So what do I see today when I look about? Certainly not a world of great writers, painters, composers and architects. Where have they all gone? Are they out there, working quietly in their homes, garages, cellars or tiny private cottages far from the house? In serenity and a deep privacy, where distractions can’t reach them?

    I see nothing. What I do see is television, the mass corporate media. This is nothing new. It is our common reality. (Or non reality.) This pervasive media defines our world, what we see when we look beyond our house. It has become the source from which we define who we are. At one time great art, literature, music and architecture had this role. There were great practitioners of these arts. And there was a vital sense of community which could also be found among villagers in different parts of the world, which great artists admired and developed in their own work. Today..... well, who defines American life, society? Who tramples over others to obtain the first spot on the New York Times bestseller lists? The list of names is not inspiring. And most of them have passed through a corporate sieve. Many are artificial.

    So I think way back then, in the 1840s, Marx was right. That Capitalism is an octopus. That it takes whatever it can and that those who defend its unbound predatory nature only defend complete thievery. Though Marx’s solution may have been incorrect he and his followers have become the bogy men of today in a false dichotomy between the two systems. For our most orthodox Capitalist adherents offer a simplistic Manichean universe: either/or. The total freedom of Capitalism or the complete tyranny of Socialism. In our narrow world there are no other economic systems.

    But what drew so many millions toward Marxism in the nineteenth century? Exploitation, a lack of power, the desire, simply, to lead a decent life. Capitalism responds, well, look, look all about you? Haven’t we created a great middleclass, a democracy with numerous unbound comforts? The freedom to do well? At one time liberalism would have been included in this list of accomplishments. Today, liberalism is seen as a constraint on Capitalism. And the workingclass, unfortunately, has bought Capitalism’s theology. The workingclass believes in myths which have nothing to do with its own reality. And here we come again to the mass media. That media which defines us, portrays us, tells us who we are. All corporate. All false. All an outcome of the Capitalism’s unbound acquisitiveness. And I think the predatory nature of Capitalism is the great danger we face today.

    And, of course, there all the religious orthodoxies, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, more..... These have added to the violence and uncertainty we have to live with today.

  2. I like that last pic of the stadium. I was about to make some snarky (and semi-pretentious) comment about "Zithum e circenses," a paraphrase of Juvenal's "panem e circenses," but was stopped by the sacrilegious nature of that irreverent comparison.

    In the end, I couldn't bring myself to it.

    You see, while I never could manage more than just a passing interest for sports such as basketball or football, I have always been a great baseball fan. There is almost a zenlike quality to baseball (which may explain why baseball is doing so well in Japan).

    As OAH (Organization of American Historians) does an excellent job of reminding us [link]: "Philosopher Jacques Barzun once observed that anyone wishing to understand the heart and mind of America should study the sport of baseball, viewed by many as the national pastime. Many writers and historians have echoed support for Barzun's statement, and there has been a proliferation of scholarly literature on the sport."

    The article brings about many penetrating observations about baseball and America. Including a reference to Steven A. Riess's work on baseball in the Progressive Era, in which the author rightly observes that while Progressives may have regarded baseball as "the epitome of the finest American beliefs, traditions, and values," the men who actually controlled the major leagues were often more like machine politicians with profit motives.

    Bottom line: Baseball is as American as Apple Pie.

    Take a look at the succession of pics displayed in the above entry. Take a look at the pic of the Statue of Liberty, now take a look at the pic of the Baseball stadium, and you just know... You know it in your heart, don't you? Beer and baseball is a more pertinent symbol of the American Dream than the Statue of Liberty will ever be.

  3. You guys made me think. I hate to think. I just want to order a beer or have a nice conversation with Johnny Walker. Now I have to think:-) :-)

  4. Nothing personal but screw all that. Thinking is fun. That is, if you think your own thoughts. See? Sometimes listening to the stranger seated at your side can be a bore. But with enough to drink it all becomes fascinating.

    Should we listen more to each other? I don't know. Let me drink some more and think about it. But we certainly need to respect each other more, including the most benighted looking strangers we see out on the street. Who knows what that bum sitting on a park bench has been through? What he may have been or may have become? We don't know. But I, like you, perhaps, will walk by looking down on him. Poor bastard. Just another bum.

    There but for the grace of God......

    Now just let me hunker down here at the bar to zero in on my shining glass, the brightest thing in the bar. I got to think about all that.

    Oh, before I go, another thought. Jesus said we should love each other. Easier said than done. Perhaps we can at least *respect* one another? Every one I've ever met has a story, an important story.

    But I need a few more drinks before getting into that overall subject. And I'm sure you've got your own thoughts to work on...... Let's have another drink......

  5. Excellent observations Q. You are a skilled writer. Once again you made me think and this time I'm doing it without first talking to the bartender. Thank you.

  6. Thanks Mike.

    You seem like a guy who wants to look at the facts. That doesn't sound too special but look around you. The things people believe. All fantasies. Sometimes craziness. We are all guilty of that (to some extent) and our own limitations can impede us from knowing the truth; But at least some people genuinely try.

    Man, the booze can make you preachy. But that's part of the fun of boozing. Don't nobody mess with my spot at the bar. For every drunk is a king.

  7. Quinty: You and I could become very, very good friends.....

  8. Me? I'm just an old fashioned socialist.

    Quinty that's some damn fine writing and very insightful thinking. Nicely done.

    I do come here to think, and the Rainwater Madeira is very good. I like the company too. When I got the invitation I believe we were a bit in our infancy. But now, look at us. The cream of the crop. Mike, would you like to dance?

  9. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  10. Quinty you are a man after my own heart; an eloquent, scholarly rogue with a healthy drinking problem - bravo
    ahhh here comes my absinthe, Barkeep pour me three fingers of that Laphroaig 30 for sipping when I've finished this, will there be a band this evening? Bird is making an appearance at The Crypt but this stool is ever so comfortable.....

  11. A thought for the day~~~

    First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

    ---F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

    Scott used to come in to the Manhattan branch of The Wulfshead back in the day, eh Bartender?

    I checked out Susan's blog (comment above). No wonder she likes to stop in here for a break!