Have you found America?
Lives flow zero-sum to futility pursuing mind ephemera in flickering dim persistence.
Media detritus weaves culture to mind-montage, echoing tinnient our frayed and cherished memories.
Collaged in colloidal silvered cellulose, ink-smeared headers, crackly acetate audio, American annals precipitate culture into caricature.
Ouroboros marketers wield consumeristic blenders, markets puréed to crass cliché.
Trail-blazing frontier heydays wane, bygone in these e-times. Parades of decayed decades fossilize sessile, 19th by 20th, in Hollywood’s hubristic faux follies.
Did you find America in fatherland’s flame or motherland’s mystique?
A poorly tended orphan, this nation coalesced to juvenescence, fluoresced at pubescence, in two tumultuous centuries of long pivotal, busy years – barely a blink, mostly a blank, in public percept.
Débutante, a Papal gift to Spain, homeland’s less scenic way saw natives annulled, witches hunted, pious preaching, youthful rebellion, uncivil slavery, and can-do capitalism.. and from that chaotic nonage wearily emerged The Union, bearing but a buck and a Bill of Rights.
Gilded Age founded selfish imperialism that inexorably begat soul-sapping world wars and two apocalyptic oriental flash-bangs. The world took careful note; though capable of equally revengeful spite, of such cruel Hollywoodesque it was not.
Post-war euphoria ebbed Cold War-soured till extinguished by futility in Asian-Arab crusades.
Premature news of its death was only slightly so, arriving delicious with heart-stilling irony by our own hand. Earth’s greatest empire slain by a homegrown virus. A virulent, highly praised export variant: best practice, world class, and best of breed – Greed.
Which brings us where we stand in the smoking ruin that was America, why we might seek what it was, and thus what we are.. or were.
Despite America’s dark heart and God’s eternal silence, none doubt that He exalts Her. “God bless America and nowhere else” resonates as classroom oath, not facetious doggerel.
“They’ve all come to look for America” – still searching, by the way. Not just a tribal ache but some clasping at the nationhood to which we long to belong.
That a combustion-fed artery delivers pilgrims to the City of Ghosts in search of genesis is irony enough. For irony, too, traveled with those who, from the sea, sought a dream yet to exist, founded a Mephistophelian metropolis of gangland hell, then surged westward and ho. Their descendants pay the piper, and the turnpike, by return in futile quest to this Trimenjous Apple, seeing in it their seeding, as does indeed an entire nation.
International regard of us is a cautious affair. Knowing the beast too well, World backs slowly towards the door and looks instead to lateral liaisons with Aspirant Asia, Gulf of Lucre, or Crown Prince Europe.
Oppressed and starved craved bounteous freedom in our virgin frontiers but their dreams mired in threadbare hardship and genocidal slave-keep. Still they arrive, over sea or beneath border, to shatter hopeful longings and languish as latter-day slaves to an imagined betterment.
Marketing, ever our game, drew migrants by symbols rendered as reality. Cowboy and gold rush cloaked ruinous labor. Coca Cola and Chevrolet bestrode dark steeds of economic imperialism, dazzling distant peasants as their birthright siphoned stateside.
Disquiet and delight greeted 9-11. Ensuing crusades blinded-not a media-savvy world that pierced indulgent embedded reportage and found only nakedly hooded prisoners of humiliation, evangelized Christian military madmen, or disillusioned patriot soldiers sacrificed beneath black-tinted mercenary convoys.
We, the Americans who seek this effusive illusion, live unwitting of its malignant extent or mischievous intent. We drive its cars, eat its burgers, bail its banks, laissez its faire, build its weapons of mass misconception, and quell deep-schism qualms at a reality slippery and thin as spring ice.
While septuagenarians work-as-retirement, while all work longer and harder for less, while middle class indebted afford neither health nor home, while overpaid geeks squander gizmo-extravagance online, while rich and famous parade fortune in all’s faces, while lavishly fortressed wealth screws a democracy that once served all.. the fervent distraction of an entire nation asserts Vidal’s United States of Amnesia in comatose acquiescence to dreamland’s Gordian fabric.
A child puzzles why hordes throng in consumptive frenzy and frenetic confusion on the turnstyle of life.
“Where are they going, Dear Parents?”
“To find America, young one, where else?”
“But that way is perfidious, a circus of illusion, the devil’s torment, bubbles of falsity.”
“Besides,” the child ponders in naïve clarity (of which only our favorite observer is capable),
“America lies within.”