Interesting thing happened. I read a book. Usually I'm too busy dissecting the world to bother with how it actually works, but I happened to have some free time while having my smugness polished.
In Johnathan Franzen's Freedom, we find that American culture is overobsessed with personal freedom.
(Sure, I could have just said ‘overly obsessed’, but somehow I’m just feeling a bit overfree today--oh dear I am a caution of late. Toot toot! Watch out, here comes the crazy train!.)
However there's a downside to personal freedom--people are unhappy and spiritually stunted. (Most likely from failing to read my books or take my advice.)
But I digress. This is about America and it’s failings—not about me and my failings—which after all are insignificant compared to yours, America. For you see, I know that I’m nasty, vicious, fallen animal filth, repugnant to the eyes of God. But you, America, have forgotten.
Yes, you still have your precious pioneering DNA and your beautiful free-enterprising DNA (at least white people who think like me still have them). But that doesn’t change the very, very, very significant fact that you have fallen from the grace of knowing you have fallen and are without grace. And that is precisely why you need me, America.
(If I weren’t, would I be writing this column? Hell no! I’d be fornicating in the mud and shooting smack and perhaps even listening to the rock and the roll or whatever the heathens listen to these days.)
This is significantly different from the postwar era in American history, wherein everyone was basically on a quest for spiritual truth, as documented in Death of a Salesman, Man With The Grey Flannel Suit, and Dial M for Murder.
It awakened me to the likelihood that some people, these days, are shallow and preoccupied with trivial concerns. Unlike, say in Tolstoy’s time, when people could grapple in meaningful ways with profound questions. Admittedly these questions were typically punctuated with or even ended by polio, malaria, tooth decay, and beriberi. But these are gifts from God. Noow people just want to own an iPad. That is a gift from Jobs—totally different.
Thus we have gone from when capitalism was about important things (building aeroplanes to bomb Tokyo and Moscow) to trivial things (putting vast collections of art, music, and literature on an portable computer--what a waste).
Tolstoy’s characters are spiritually ambitious seeking some universal truth that can withstand the tough scrutiny of their own intelligence. Do they find it? Hell no! But that’s the point of spiritual enlightenment, isn’t it? It’s cheap and it’s something to do. This is how I know how people lived and thought in times I did not live—choosing a single literary classic I’ve already read, and compare it to a single book from our modern era. Yes, I could choose random books and compare them, and even choose a large sample of such books, but since I’ve already proved my point, why do I need evidence? That’s science, and quite frankly I make way too much money to lower myself.
And this is why we live in a morally degenerate, spiritually bankrupt era: We refuse to live like the characters in War and Peace. My advice? A war with Germany. Hard to go wrong with that one. And I’m definitely not projecting the sense of the triviality of my own petty existence on everyone else who refuses to live as I do. After all, I write opinions. And what could be more lofty, ennobling, and spiritually ambitious than shouting on about what’s wrong with everyone else for a living? And that, America, is my spiritual truth. You'll have to buy your own.