Tuesday, July 3, 2007

America's Violent Temper

America celebrates its birthday tomorrow. You know "We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident that all men are created equal".

The other night went to a reading at a really cool loft- lina vitkauskas read- she is so great a real poet's poet. before her some blonde woman read some syrupy-didactic poetry- it was dreadfully banal the kind of soft mushy liberal poetry that I hate with no snap and no tension just sweet mushy bread pudding. Get thee to a workshop immediately!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was thinking about what she said however about "peace" and "love" (YUK) and I kept thinking that is really not what America is about. America is about violently creative people who are self destructive and who in the end force our society to change. Violence not Peace is what has made America, America.

This is central to our national character. Think about it- Faulkner, Hemingway, Pollock, Plath, Sexton, Merton, Dean, Brando, and on and on they represent a violent self destruction that makes America- America.

Got some Brazilian relatives staying with me this month and I always like to compare Brazil with the USA. Both big countries with histories of slavery and immigration. Brazilians are huge nationalists like Americans but the difference is the creative violence. There is lots of senseless violence in both the USA and Brazil- but creative violence is really an American thing.

It is not PC today to talk this way- most of our academic types have bought into a kind of mediocre multi-culturalism that thinks about feelings and forgets about deep meaning. But would you rather go in your bed? Or in a speeding car like Jackson Pollock- 200% alive?

1 comment:

Maya Deren said...

Firstly, thank you again, for the praise Ray. I am glad you and your lovely wife came out to see us read at BYOP.

Secondly, even though this a belated comment, I agree though I can relate to the cultural instinct of violent dissidence America is founded upon. That is, because of my Lithuanian background, it was always: assume the position of the oppressed and wax longingly philosophic about "the better times" though there truly were none. There is a deep-rooted, absurdist pessimism and, "gloom and doom" in Eastern European culture, at least in my own experience, that reeks of nihilism, yet still never fully commits. I can understand why my people felt this way, but when I compare it to this bombastic American way of tempting fate and going out with a bang, I wonder why they did not embrace death this way--why rather, die under the oppressive gun of a Communist pen writing the words for you? It always fascinated me, this adopted cultural conscience/identity. Anyway, just thought I'd comment.