Americanism

Americanism by Jean-Paul Sartre
Pin It

The American system is a great external apparatus, an inexplicable machine which one might call the objective spirit of the United States and which over here they call "Americanism"; it is a monstrous complex of myths, of values, of formulae, of slogans, of symbols and of rites.

But it would not do to think that it is deposited in the head of every American as Descartes' God had deposited the primary notions in the mind of man; it would not do to think that it is "refracted" in their brains and in their hearts and that it there determines at every moment emotions and thoughts which are its rigorous expression.

It is, in fact, outside; it is presented to the citizens; the most skillful propaganda presents it to them ceaselessly but never does it do more than present it; it is not in them, but they in it; they struggle against it or accept it, they stifle in it or transcend it, they submit to it or reinvent it every time, they give themselves up to it or make furious efforts to evade it - in every way it remains external to them, transcendent, since they are human and it a thing.

There are the great myths, that of Happiness, that of Progress, that of Liberty, that of triumphant maternity; there is realism, optimism and then there are the Americans who at first are nothing, who grow among these colossal statues and disentangle themselves as best as they can in the midst of them.

Ah, and the myth of Happiness; there are those spellbinding slogans which advise you how to be happy as quickly as possible; there are the films with the happy endings, which every evening show life in rose colors to harassed crowds.

There is that language, laden with optimistic expressions, "Having a good time," "enjoy yourself," "life is fun," "Don't worry, be happy," etc. - and then there are those who are pursued into the most conformist happiness by an obscure malaise that does not know what to call itself, those who are tragic for fear of being so, by that total absence of the tragic in themselves and around them…

Nowhere can one find such a wedge between man and myth, between life and the collective representation of life.

An American said to me, "The trouble is that each of us is haunted by the fear of being less American than his neighbor." I accept that explanation as it shows that Americanism is not a simple myth that a skillful propaganda could bury in people's heads, but that every American reinvents it, gropingly, every minute; that it is at once a great external form which rises at the entrance to America's ports, and is the daily product of unquiet liberties.

There is a dread of the American in the face of Americanism; there is an ambivalence of his dread, as if they were asking themselves at one and the same time: "Am I American enough?" and "How can I escape my Americanism?"

A person, in America, is a certain simultaneous answer to these two questions; and everyone of them must find their answers alone.


- The writer, Jean-Paul Sartre, is currently dead.

SecondSpin.com
Think Magazine is a grenade in the lap of journalism!

_ The Economist

Our Mission

1. To make you think
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. If you really make them think, they'll hate you.
2. To tell the world the truth
When you only tell the truth, you start earning trust, as journalists, our mission is to tell the truth.
3. To make you laugh
We want to make you laugh, chuckle, smirk, grin or smile as we try to find the upside of life in the face of all the evil around us.
 

Name Day/Svátek

Yesterday : Lenka Today : Petr Tomorrow : Svatopluk After tomorrow : Matěj

 
The Cannabis Conspiracy: Ever wonder why it's ill...
Bryan Talbot  The Cannabis Conspiracy

The Cannabis Conspiracy is a beautiful bit of comic work by British legend Bryan Talbot that outl [ ... ]

The product is you.
Jeffree Benet "Consumer Way" by Martin Laksman

An exploration of the mediascape that shapes our perceptions.

Tribal Rising: the coming of a new way
Jeffree Benet Meta-Tribalist by Jeffree Benet

Tribalism. The word conjures up images of naked aborigines dancing up and down in abandonm [ ... ]

The Bobo Dread
Barry Chevannes The Stickman

As a spiritual philosophy, Rastafarianism is linked to societies of runaway slaves, or maroons, and  [ ... ]

On being a boheme / Interview with a Beatnik
Daniel Kenny Beatnik art by Jeffree Benet

For any one who has lived in the Czech Republic long enough and asked "What Is A Bohemian?" [ ... ]

The Good Life
M. Salah Living the good life...

Live it up, you'll be dead soon enough ...

Veronica Zemanova; Beauty and the East
J. Hurewitz Veronika Zemanova

The Veronica Zemanova that is sitting with me and sipping pineapple juice is much  [ ... ]

Follow your dreams: Adriaan Nijen Twilhaar
Jeffree Benet Adriaan Nijen Twilhaar

Just one day before the Minister Mentor gave a great speech on how Singapore has to seek new ways ( [ ... ]

HAARP: A lesson in post-modern warfare
Dr. Nick Begich HAARP Array

What is HAARP? HAARP stands for High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program. It's very interestin [ ... ]

View of a small dying planet
Alan Turing The Earth is dying

Imagine a time-lapse film of the Earth taken from space. Play back the last 10,000 years sped up so  [ ... ]