They all came to look for America…..
“Let us be lovers we’ll marry our fortunes together.”
“I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.”
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And we walked off to look for America.
“Kathy,” I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve come to look for America.” ….
Few such momentous events in human history can have taken place with so little to indicate their importance. Thesetting was near the top of the world , in a time of brutal cold, and probably about as bleak as any imaginable. The ground was perpetually frozen , except when the summer thaw reached a few inches down. “A monotonous, snow covered waste, ” the explorer Warburton Pike wrote of the tundra seventy years ago, where “a deathly stillness hangs over all, and the oppressive loneliness weighs upon the spectator until he is glad to shout aloud to break the awful spell of solitude. “ It was the first overland journey along the curve of the Arctic Circle. This region is rather poetically known as the Barrenlands, a vast expanse of treeless tundra that arctic explorer Warburton Pike also described as “the most complete desolation that exists on the face of the earth.”
The actors in the drama that was to unfold with so little of the dramatic were seemingly as unpromising as the country that swallowed them up. For if current archaeological reasoning is correct, the progenitors of the widespread and varied tribes of the American Indian were these mid-Paleolithic proto-Mongoloids of “Beringia”. The emergence of these newcomers over the Bering Strait with their better tools and more protective clothing also coincided with the disappearance of the super mammals. This was not due to changes in vegetation or climate; the agency of destruction was man. Man the stone age killer , employing the tactics of range-firing and game-driving that would send hers over cliffs and doom hundreds of animals for the sake of a few carcasses. Then perhaps he hunted down the scattered remnants for the prestige that attaches to the slaughter of an imposing beast.
…Laughing on the bus;
Playing games with the faces;
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy;
I said “Be careful his bowtie is really a camera.”
“Toss me a cigarette, I think there’s one in my raincoat.”
“We smoked the last one an hour ago.”
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field. …
And very likely that is all there were, a few hundred hungry, shivering tribesmen, thanks to whom the mightiest of Pleistocene mammalry were to vanish from the hemisphere, the empires of the Incas, Mayas, Toltecs, and Aztecs were to rise, and our forefathers in the next influx from the Old World were to be compelled to run a bloody gamut of Iroquois and Cherokee, Shawnee and Choctaw, Sioux, Blackfoot, Navaho and others.
In fact the dynamic of slaughter, domination and subjugation has been the prevailing ideology since the first “pioneers” crossed the Bering Strait. As much as the pull of sentimentality for an innocent America may be, the truth would indicate otherwise. As we remember MLK this week, it has also marked a re-writing of King, a kind of soul-dulling and bleaching of the message so that its emotional charge morphs into vague motherhood statements….
David Lai: Like any national icon, we run the risk of sanitizing Martin Luther King—envisioning a feel-good story where the American nation confronted its ugly racial past, and thanks to the sacrifice and vision of King and Rosa Parks, America was able to confront its conscience and change for the better. By doing so, we have created an American icon—a slightly chubby African American saint who we eulogize and sanctify by invoking his name a few times a year, and by continually talking about some dream he had about some post-racial harmony. …While King as national saint and icon has a little value, however, it does a great discredit to the man, and to the thousands and millions who strived with him, to summarize his life in the above paragraph.
What’s sad is that so many groups will use King to champion their own causes—having memorized a few pithy quotes by him that back their words, for example, the quote that “everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” I don’t think everybody who quotes that realizes that King is referring to Christian idea of “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Community service, non-profit work fit under the idea of “servant of all,” but under King’s conception, it’s not enough to just do one day of service a year, or chip in a few hours—but rather, through a lifetime of doing good and a lifetime of service. Read More: http://news.eastvillagers.org/2010/02/08/1martin-luther-king-by-david-lai/
…”Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike:
They’ve all come to look for America
All come to look for America
All come to look for America … ( Paul Simon )
The recent publication of Saul Bellow’s “Letters” also serves as a kind of reflection on America. His vision of acting out a drama on the American stage through a lifelong spiritual questioning based partly on the work of Rudolf Steiner brings us back to art. It is in his “Humboldt’s Gift” that the ransforming power of art helps us to better understand not only Bellow’s ongoing spiritual struggles, but humanity’s. His “Herzog” accurately reflects the divisive nature of the human self, and it seeming ability to wallow and glory in distortion; an America despite all its flaws still might have the intestinal fortitude to one day make something of itself. Bellow with “Augie March” created a combustible and volatile mix that fused high and low idiom and diction which changed writing stylistically, despite his later concerns that this was might have been ” one of those stormy, formless American phenomenon”.