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"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?
Scott McCloud, in his cartoon treatise Understanding Comics, argues that the image you have of yourself when you're conversing is very different from your image of the person you're conversing with. You interlocutor may produce universal smiles and universal frowns, and they may help you to identify with him emotionally, but he also has a very particular nose and particular skin and particular hair that continually remind you that he's an Other. The image you have of your own face, by contrast, is highly cartoonish. When you feel yourself smile, you imagine a cartoon of smiling, not the complete skin-and-nose-and-hair package. It's precisely the simplicity and universality of cartoon faces, the absence of Otherly particulars, that invite us to love them as we love ourselves. The most widely loved (and profitable) faces in the modern world tend to be exceptionally basic and abstract cartoons: Mickey Mouse, the Simpsons, Tintin, and--simplest of all, barely more than a circle, two dots, and a horizontal line--Charlie Brown.
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There've been about 6000 visitors to the site in the last year. Even though Ariel gets that every time he mentions Pearl Jam, I'm really quite overwhelmed by your support.
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