America fit for man and beast: they had a dream?

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.” ….

MLK: I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

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.”

In this painting are some of the animals that confronted early American man: from left to right, a giant ground sloth, a mastodon, and a mammoth, behind which lurks a cave bear; the third and smallest elephant is a Rhynchotherium, which is flanked by a horse. The Camelops stands beside a giant bison. In the front row are a saber-toothed cat, a wolf, a gloptodont, and a small ground sloth. Some experts believe that man the predator may have caused the untimely demise of all these species.

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.

Where had these men come from? they may have been in Alaska all the while and have received the new techniques from Siberia long before, or they may have come fairly recently from Siberia."These spears have large bifaces at their tips which was common to the early Nenana complex in Alaska around 12,000 years ago. Later on microblades became more common in the Denali complex. There are older sites in Alaska, like Swan Point, which has older tools made from microblades. This style is more efficient with the stone used because there is less waste and therefore less loss of stone overall in the production process."

…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.

"The Columbian Exchange brought horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and a collection of other useful species to the Americas. Before Columbus, Native American societies in the high Andes had domesticated llamas and alpacas, but no other animals weighing more than 45 kg (100 lbs). And for good reason: none of the other 23 large mammal species present in the Americas before th

rival of Columbus were suitable for domestication. In contrast, Eurasia had 72 large animal species, of which 13 were suitable for domestication. So, while Native Americans had plenty of good food crops available before 1492, they had few domesticated animals." painting Paul Kane 1851-56.

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.

Banville: Bellow himself was aware of the dangers he courted and the artistic damage he sometimes inflicted on himself. In 1955, to another friend, Ruth Miller, he writes: "I think this is the fault of all American books, including my own. They pant so after meaning. They are earnestly moral, didactic; they build them ever more stately mansions, and they exhort and plead and refine, and they are, insofar, books of error. A work of art should rest on perception. 'Here' in other words, 'is my vision, be meaning what it may.' The rest doesn't count a bit." Yet what a writer, and what a man. Who, reading these letters, could not but love him? He was fearsome and kindly, tolerant and unforgiving, committed to his art but dedicated to the world. "I have," he wrote, "sophisticated skin and naïve bones." ... photo:

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:


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…”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”.

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