Some ramblings about American culture.

What would you call something which, having become poisoned and yet dominant, seems to impede, in its way, the further forward development of human culture at large, the hard won notions of the enlightenment, the happiness of individuals everywhere, and possibly the advancement of the species as a whole? I call it American culture.

After a discussion I had this morning here are a few points to consider and kick around, in no particular order:

American culture, meaning the culture, not the government, of the United States of America, was nurtured under puritanical principles, which we have yet, in our 230 years of existence, to shake off. Today’s so called “culture wars” are just another in the long line of skirmishes in which one group of people, lets call them “those who wish to move forward and evolve” attempts to throw off the suffocating and muscle numbing yoke of the old guard, let’s call them “those that wish to take globs of warm amber into their lungs and become fossilized forever in the continually outmoded past of human experience.”

American culture is one fed on repression. Our notions and experiences of sex, the most universal and natural of human experiences, are warped, from our puritanical upbringing, in ways no other culture (save perhaps the Japanese) could even begin to comprehend. For us everything must be hidden and secret. For us everything must be dirty and guilty. For us pleasures of the flesh can never be trusted and so never completely enjoyed. We are a land of philosophical eunuchs, even the best of us, when it comes to human sexuality. We skulk around feeling guilty, averting our eyes when we are supposed to, masturbating in secret places with the memories of what we’ve seen. The worst of us would have vagina’s sewn up with consecrated threads, only to be cut on a wedding night, with saintly scissors; penises lopped off, only to be attached again for the purpose of overpopulation. Every man, woman, and yes- child, knows the deceitful unworkability of this. But we are cowed by those with the loudest mouths. We nod and pretend. We must deny everything and sublimate our yearnings into lies and violence.

Other cultures, with the good fortune to have existed for thousands of years, in one place, look at us and shake their heads. “How can they be so childish?” they must wonder. “How can they be so full of shit?!” And I wonder as well. How?

How, in the year 2006, can so many of us still be so ignorant of the obvious? Heads can be cut off on 80 foot screens, bowels torn from bellies to slap against thighs, bullets can enter bodies from 10 different angles, but the word “fuck” can not be permitted on the airwaves. A breast can never be glimpsed. A fully nude body must be accompanied with a warning which tells us: “This is very naughty and bad for you!” The peoples who descend from ancient Romans, who walk the same avenues as their ruined forefathers, look at us and laugh as they slap one another on the asses without benefit of a lawyer’s council.

We despise the old. We cringe at their wrinkles and bellow behind their slow motions. We put them in cheap rooms to die while doing every ineffective thing we can to fend off age in ourselves. Knives slip between our skin and bones to artificially tighten, firm-up, enlarge, and slim down. We inject poison into our faces to remove our hard-won wrinkles. We dress in children’s clothes and pretend at child-like freedom. We buy a never ending succession of “toys” we don’t need. In short we make vulgar monsters of ourselves. Everyone sees this but no one admits to the ugliness of it all.

We see the fake breasts creasing and bulging on the sides, we see the faces pulled back into masks, we see the wigs shift, we watch the artificially plumped lips move, we see the huge heads, like baubles, of those who had the fat vacuumed from them, we watch the starving women making excuses and we pretend this is beauty. We pretend we are fooled and celebrate it on every magazine cover and television screen. We pretend the glow of youth dwells on a knife edge, in a needle, in a cream, in a wish.

We blame and repent and pass judgement, never for a second doing the only thing required of adults: taking responsibility. We sue, and we go on talk shows, and we tell all, and we accuse, and we weep, and we “self-help,” and we take our medicine, and stuff our fat faces, and stuff our pockets, and we congratulate ourselves, and we pamper ourselves, and we turn our culture into a infantile embarrassment fit not for men and women but for children whose development is forever arrested.

“We must do it for the children!” What better sentiment for a culture that endlessly caresses and fondles and probes the tight anus of youth!  Our culture, from our music to our “literature” to our entertainments is all unsophisticated and childlike. Every market salivates over the youth dollar and every decision must take the children into account. Nothing legal seems to exist anymore for the benefit of adults. We idolize vapid celebrities. We make millionaires of game playing man-children. We elect intellectually stunted buffoons because they remind us of ourselves, because they are “average” and visibly flawed, as though that were a selling point. The stories of our leaders are always coming of age stories in which mistakes must be made in order to be learned from, but each leader is temporary, and each lesson must be learned anew.

We worship youth both in our rhetoric and in our degradation. But not for the actual youth of our population, to them we are happy to leave cesspit of waste and debt and ecological ruin. “The children” we so adore are ourselves. Our young country is full adolescents, awkward and uncertain, always looking to their invisible father figure in the sky for approval, always fueled by a bottomless undercurrent of fear at facing any reality.

Some of us defer to our invisible father figure in the sky whenever we are made uncomfortable, whenever we are unsure, whenever we would rather not be responsible. We honor him in public, always, saying the things that must be said, but in private we are compelled to push the boundaries and see just what we can get away with. We are rebellious in all matters where his “law” does not serve our purpose, but relent when caught. After all the power to invoke daddy’s name is the greatest power of the weakling child.

These among our number will always stand at daddy’s pant leg. It is only his perceived power that allows them to cover their ears and shake their head chanting “la la la la I can’t hear you la la la…” when things like science and facts and logic threaten. It is the weakling child’s last defense when those among us who want change and progress and betterment attempt to speak up.

It is my feeling that American culture, as it stands today, is very nearly a kink in the evolution of human culture on the whole. (We are by no means the only kink, but a kink in the smooth flow none the less.) It’s dominance is troublesome when elsewhere in the world there are more mature cultures who by turns seem willing to celebrate life, to enjoy themselves, to love, and most of all to learn. If those among us who want further enlightenment here on earth do not eventually shake loose of the yoke which keeps America backward and fearful, if we don’t grow up and punch the schoolyard bully square in the mouth as it were, then we are part of the problem and not at all the shining light which we’ve always assumed ourselves to be.

In any event we have some serious fucking issues.