Just came back from The Europe Place, having wandered about with family in tow (and vice versa), mainly making our way through Barcelona and Scotland, two cities steeped in history and art, drenched with passion and pride.
These are mature places, the denizens going about their business not as material-obsessed drones but as active participants in their respective cultures, able and articulate representatives of their countries. They are places whose maturity has enabled them to achieved a sort of balance of all the disparate elements which otherwise might threaten to swamp a national psyche and make it an unreasoning, destructive presence in the international sociopolitical scheme. In other words, it's nice there! (A side note: if the Earth is ever invaded by aliens, just send in some Scots. Those aliens -- or what's left of them -- will be limping back to their home planet within a few hours.).
And from that objective geographical perspective, I saw America from a, whattayou call it? Ah, yes: a parallax view (Another side note: great film by Warren Beatty by the same name. See it, why don't you?).
And fellow travelers I'm telling you, to understand the state of our own union, it's a view that really needs to be seen.
For, to return home from being abroad is to see America as it is and marvel at the mess it's become, like looking at a celebrity from a strictly verboten angle and seeing the scars, the stitches, the ooze. Which I myself have done, but never before a meal.
And one sees most clearly the utterly biased corporate media using all manner of cannily manipulative techniques to corral the nation towards its own selfish aim: to ensure profit at the expense of people. And one sees this only after having been removed from the sheep-dip that is American corporate media submersion. Only it's not parasites being cleansed from the sheep's wool, it's the ability to know when the wool's been pulled over its eyes.
With its wisdom-inducing culture and history either being utterly corrupted or safely swept into a dark closet, the corporate hooligans have been putting a price on every pixel of available cultural real estate. When the forces of greed -- in collusion with zealously right-wing ideologues -- openly decry education, diversity, tolerance, and instead embrace superstition, violence and social division, what choice would Americans have? They turn to noxious tripe for their intellectual, spiritual and psychological nourishment, an electronic barrage of easily learned and regurgitated talking points, knee-jerk inducing imagery, streams of provocative bromides and an encouragement to embrace a low-brow revisionism. Hours and hours of glitzy talent shows and round-the-clock tabloid journalism can only lead to "Ow My Balls!" (And a third side note: the movie "Idiocracy". Watch it after "The Parallax View". And then, by all means, get drunk.)
From a geographically remote perspective, the tableau is that of a nation of lambs, utterly spooked, malleable and misled.
And as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches with the grim solemnity of a military adjutant coming up the walk to tell a mother her son has been killed in action, I can't help feeling that the corporate fascists have knowingly exploited the overwhelming trauma of that moment in order to make inroads to cold, callous profit; that maybe even they themselves were similarly overwhelmed by the toxic shock that racked the nation, the overload burning out whatever vestigial decency they may have possessed, leaving them as numb and unfeeling as those who were actually there or who knew and lost people who were.
But don't take my word for it. Travel. And see the view for yourself.
It's perfectly parallactic.