"Made in America"--America, made. In many ways, the story that comes together in the pieces of this book is that of people taking up the two elemental American fables--the fable of discovery and the fable of founding--and making their own versions: their own versions of the fables, which is to say their own version of America itself. Who knows if it is John F. Kennedy delivering his Inaugural Address or Jay Gatsby throwing one more party who is more truly invoking John Wintrhop's "A Model of Christian Charity" from three centuries before? Is it Frederick Douglass or Hank Williams who has the most to tell us, not to mention Jefferson's ghost, about the real meaning of the Declaration of Independence? Doesn't Emily Dickinson, within her own Amherst walls, invent as complete a nation--loose in the wilderness in flight from all forms of restraint, be they those of God or man--as Ahab on the quarterdeck or Lincoln at the East Face of the Capitol?
Monday, November 30, 2009
Paragraph of the Week
Sorry for the one day delay. Long weekends are strangely disorienting. Without further ado, here's a paragraph for you, from Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors' introduction to A New Literary History of America: