08 February 2013

Exile: An Applied Theory of Love

Loreto, Baja California Sur
NP: Finally, you moved to Mexico a number of years ago. Is all this why? Do you ever see yourself coming back to America?

MB: There are a lot of answers to that question, and yes, some of the reasons can be found in the above dialogue. You know, the air is really “thin” in the United States, because the value-system is one-dimensional. It’s basically about economic and technological expansion, not much else; the “else” exists at the margins, if it exists at all. I first discovered this when I traveled around Europe in my mid-20s. I saw that the citizens of those countries talked about lots of things, not just about material success. Money is of course important to the citizens of other countries, Mexico included, but it’s not necessarily the center of their lives.

Here’s what the US lacks, which I believe Mexico has: community, friendship, appreciation of beauty, craftsmanship as opposed to obsessive technology, and—despite what you read in the American newspapers—huge graciousness; a large, beating heart. I never found very much of those things in the US; certainly, I never found much heart. American cities and suburbs have to be the most soulless places in the world. In a word, America has its priorities upside down, and after decades of living there, I was simply tired of being a stranger in a strange land. In A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis and his colleagues conclude that happiness is achieved only by those who manage to escape the American value-system. Well, the easiest way to escape from that value-system, is to escape from America.

http://www.alternet.org/story/154453/why_the_american_empire_was_destined_to_collapse?paging=off Why the American Empire Was Destined to Collapse

8 comments:

Gladstone said...

This is great! But, wouldn't you agree that Berman's huministic expression of all countries other than the U.S. is a bit of a generalization?

Ordnungssinn said...

While there were some abuses and such, the American neo-cons missed the entire point of when Europe literally goes on vacation in August.

Or when German shops close at six and there are no 24 hour Wal-Marts.

Liberal capitalism has brought many great improvements, but without certain checks it quickly sells the national soul.

MGM said...

I have found ways to manipulate this cultural obsession with material success to my advantage -- i.e., just appear yourself to be materially successful and everything seems to fall your way, such as employment opportunities, women, respect from peers, exceptional service everywhere you go, etc. etc.

So, the American obsession with materialism is not necessarily a bad thing.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

I am reminded of what Montherlant wrote about America:

http://admiralcod.blogspot.com/2011/02/chaos-and-night-henry-de-montherlant.html

I concur.

David said...

It's a shame really, because our history is full of so much character and soul. I want to believe we're better than this, but I drive around and look at my fellow Americans and have to face the reality that we've simply degenerated into a facade of what once was. At least we're some of the few who have the balls to add some liveliness and originality around here.

@MGM I was taught this way as well, not so much as a means to "fake it" when you don't have it, but rather as a tool to use for success in any given situation. Of course, it works incredibly well considering how shallow this country really has become. Oh well, might as well have some fun with the plebs right?

Dave said...

This explains why millions of Americans are illegally crossing the border into... oh, hang on...

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Dave ~ No, modern Americans are too comfortable with their tv, porn, fast food, consumer lifestyle, video games, and anti-depressants to make a move. Too lazy, stupid, and frightened both to effect change in their own country and to get up and leave. A true sheeple, indeed.

Ordnungssinn said...

@ LBF re: Montherlant

Perfectly stated.