Sep 15, 2006

No Fear. No Hope

Everything is fine. Everyone is smiling. No matter all the films and commorations, no one really thinks about 9/11. Not really. America has no fear, and so, to fill in the vaccum creates a relentless entertainment of horror. The new fall TV serials explore 'the criminal mind'; kidnapped children; forensics and the end-all perils of 'Last Days.'

No fear and yet two weeks ago a woman, a friend of a friend, driving to San Francisco from Marin saw dark-skinned men driving two UPS trucks. The trucks followed each other and at high speed. Immediately, she stopped at the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge until she thought enough time had passed for the two trucks to reach the other side. I was told she waited half an hour.

I don't know if this is true, but it sounds familiar. I often imagine these calamities, and in great detail. They become points of departure for moral quandries. If the worst happened: would I stop the car and run to one shore or the other? Would I help others or run for my life? Could I hang on to the railings and survive? What would the sound be like of that bridge coming down? I imagine the car hurtling down into the bay and all of us with it.

Bizarre. How do you explain a society that cherishes fear, might even be addicted to it, on the one hand and, and on the other, feels it, deeply, neurotically, and flees it at every turn?

You could as easily substitute, 'death.'

It may be true as some scholars say these days that Americans have become so 'emotionalized' they can no longer reason or appreciate the value of reason. Sure, these are silly things to say; who can say anything at all about America? Who could speak for such a place? But if you were making that argument there was an interesting piece of evidence, a story today in the San Francisco Chronicle told how the cavalier attitude of Silicon Valley executives, whether in spying on board directors or sauteeing the books to boost stock values, has begun to undermine the valley's future....

It makes sense. The overly intellectualized strain in American culture has run its course. Reason has a bad reputation. Cavalier is back. Don't 'just do it'; John Wayne-it. Hence, the popularity of evangelicalisms. Modnernity is the real monster and so unable to comprehend it, much less acccept it, folks go back in Plato's cave.

But if you look over the horizon do you not see how some blend in the offing. Refined intuition, intellimagination, anim-spiritus. Common and sixth sense together, you might say.

1 comment:

David Weir said...

These are such weird times, and with your experience living and traveling around the Middle East, you are better able than most of us to evaluate whether/how much of what we are seeing is a clash of cultures...