Psychopomp Babble vol. 1

January 29, 2008 at 12:01 am (Psychopomp Babble)

I said earlier that America is the greatest, most important work of art yet produced by man. I only take the torch from Homer because we have, for the most part, divested ourselves from an eristic society and no longer need introspection. We need to remove the self consciousness lowered onto us by Socrates reading Homer’s cue cards! We need action!

America is that action.

Looking to right the wrongs (or redress the grievances or line the pockets, I don’t have the contemporary terminology now), the American forefathers, and I speak of them as mythic construction workers even though they were far from it because I’m dabbling in New Criticism and have a distaste for authorial intention, found a new country that they could sculpt. Just like early mythic poetry springing forth from the fickle transformations of Mnemosyne, America and its constitution was built with only memory and good intentions, a sense of how things ought to be. It was also a product of committee. Both have had tremendous implications, but I will first speak of its artistry, intrinsically tied to its origins.

Attempting to replicate the sense of societal freedom found in classical texts, they looked to its government, the source of so much irritation at the time. And they tried to replicate but were forced to reconcile the anarchistic, more self reliant trailblazers with the more classically minded members wanting a semblance of an elite. The Federalists fought the Anti-Federalists, the former defined by their loose interpretation of a lawful document, and the latter defined by their strict exactness. The Federalists were accustomed to having power, and wanting a base from which the just could rule according to how they saw fit, and the Anti-Federalists wanting to create a government which would never be crossed and slighted. One side spent their past lives as Gods, and the other wanted to create Him, having finally seen the throne. And so the Confederation of America was created.

Naturally, they got it wrong.

The Anti-Federalists had secured too much power, had wanted an intransient and equitable system which would never be faulted. The Federalists were all too aware of transience, and wanted a unified, central system that understood its laws was just a language and as subject to the whims of public thought. The problem was, both sides wanted the exact same thing, just at different levels.

The Anti-Federalists were all too aware of transience, and their permanent system was permanent self reliance. They just needed an unequivocal means of expressing it. The Federalists, who came from more affluent families, generally, had a taste of politics and understood that a corporation of people could accomplish great things that a single person could not, and wished, no, saw the necessity of rigor mortis in a country hopefully entering the world stage. America was the melding of rural peasants and urban statesmen, of self reliance and those seeking the reliance of others. It’s basically the loss of a single perspective governing life and the embracing of multiple values.

On the second try, they hit closer to the mark. Hamilton assumed the debt of every state, and everyone was unified by their lack. This is also when many, many compromises were made. My elementary teachers often spoke highly of the agreeable countenance (my teachers assumed precociousness from their audience) of early statesmen. I used to imagine slaveholders debating amicably with abolitionists in a bright courtroom. I had no idea that slavery was anything more than an ethical issue for all well minded individuals. I also had no idea that America, the land of the free, held onto bondage much longer than most countries. A country founded on moral redress dealt with internal Boston Massacres so much more often than one established without any foundation besides geography.

America is the inclusive convergence of disparate ideologies, which includes those ideas that some groups need to be excluded. The American dream is that anything is possible if you try hard enough, and the American aesthetic is any idea or method reaching a predetermined goal. To be American is to be disillusioned, to hold onto something dear and have it systematically proven wrong, because in America, anything is possible, especially, and this is the most surprising to most, things becoming impossible to attain.

In an infinite utopia where all desires can be actualized, the most likely result is a handful of half hearted attempts. The clergy and royalty have tried their darnedest to squelch the desires of man but only fortified them, impassioning the Heresiarch’s minions. So when finally permitted to follow their desires, scarcity has limited their effect. Now we have college artists branching out into film, novels, and poetry when they began drawing. Solipsism has proven terribly misleading to a populace unimpeded by a stringent hierarchy. Scarcity is no longer a constant, abundance is, and America has man deal with that terrible revelation.

We can finally get exactly what we want. Which is absolutely horrific.


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