Friday, August 10, 2007

from an old friend

My buddy since eighth grade, Dr. Steve, writes the following, which I leave here for comments:

I've been reading, the last few days, the newest DeLillo novel. Which, like his last two, is, on the whole, pretty stinky. But I came across a rather arresting passage today.

In it, a semi-elderly German dude -- a former '60s radical -- says to a table of Americans, "'For all the careless power of this country, let me say this, for all the danger it makes in the world, America is going to become irrelevant. Do you believe this?'"

A few lines later he says:

"'There is a word in German. Gedankenubertragung. This is the broadcasting of thoughts. We are all beginning to have this thought, of American irrelevance. It's a little like telepathy. Soon the day is coming when nobody has to think about America except for the danger it brings. It is losing the center. It becomes the center of its own shit. This is the only center it occupies.'"

Shortly thereafter, an American man -- after snottily putting a sunflower in the aforementioned German's lapel -- says this:

"'If we occupy the center, it's because you put us there. This is your true dilemma. Despite everything, we're still America, you're still Europe. You go to our movies, read our books, listen to our music, speak our language. How can you stop thinking about us? You see us and hear us all the time. Ask yourself. What comes after America?'"

I've never liked Don DeLillo. I found White Noise tolerable, but Underworld was unbearable. I might respond to this passage at greater length later today.


1 comment:

John McCrarey said...

What is the relevance of whether the rest of the world sees America as irrelevant? Since when have the majority of Americans cared about what our European betters think?

I am actually in favor of irrelevance. We've spilled a lot of American blood being relevant to our "friends" in Europe. Next time there's trouble on the continent give China a call.

And all the better if our enemies think us irrelevant. They do so at their own peril.

Or maybe I missed the whole point the quoted passage. If so, just consider this comment irrelevant.