American Culture….American Albatross
I did a diary a while ago where I contended that this country – America – had no culture or it was designed by Madison Ave. in NYC. This was not entirely correct. No…American culture is whatever happens to be “IN’ at the moment. And Madison Ave. and their elites take full advantage of it.
Unlike Germany or Japan or China or Italy where there is still a deep cultural heritage that even the young embrace to one extent or another, America has little except for some vague historical reference or embellishment that Hollywood uses to amuse us.
It is not unusual to see someone decked out in traditional garb during a festival in Germany or France or Japan to also be holding a cell phone or iPad or some such, for what they have is NOT who they are. They may like the new music, but they also like their traditional music as well.
Americans on the other hand will eventually embrace whatever the trend is and throw the old away like yesterday’s New York Times. We like to call this willingness to change. But it comes with a price. The Japanese still live in houses of of traditional Japanese design and often wear traditional clothes, yet are some of the most progressive when it comes to new technology. The Germans have no problem with living in old baroque-style apartments although the insides may be quite modern.
They have a like or grounding with something more permanent to hold on to which makes change and that which is new easier to handle and less threatening, rather like children are more willing to explore because they have the security and safety of their parents and a home to go back to.
This willingness or desire to change, in my opinion, is a façade – superficial. The car with the futurist fins was not really any different from the model without the fins that preceded it. The fancy new house that looked modern on the outside was quite traditional inside. By the late 1960s everything had to look psychedelic. Psychedelic love songs were still love songs. We defined ourselves as the bastion of liberty or capitalism or anti-communism or some other such nonsense, but when the Soviet Union fell and China started to embrace a capitalistic economy, even that started to look a bit thin and weathered.
But this springing from one new thing to the next without any really history of deep cultural values makes any real change very difficult to achieve. Psychology limits the security needed to explore, as well as making our understanding of our own history very muddled indeed. With no real anchors and no real goals, America is adrift in an ever more rough sea.
So we have those on the right who embrace a history that is fictitious and a left constantly searching for some nirvana using a utopian vision of Europe, or some other area, as their ultimate goal, yet not willing to let go of their current situation to achieve it. Holding on to the status quo with a death grip. Like a child holding on to the clothes of whatever grownup is near since mommy and daddy are nowhere to be seen. All of which keeps us stuck.
And the right sees the left as far too eager to burn down the house even if the house has been condemned and empty and falling apart for ages.
So here we are…with a fallacious past and no new thing to grab onto. Lost in the forest afraid to move or at best not knowing where to go. The ironic part is that we are currently involved over a country – Ukraine – whose cultural heritage is as vague and disjointed and [partially at least], imaginary as our own.