the american roy orbison Portland, Oregon No.3052624 +1 [Reply]
America is the original version of modernity. We (Europe) are the dubbed or subtitled version. America ducks the question of origins; it cultivates no origin or mythical authenticity; it has no past and no founding truth. Having known no primitive accumulation of time, it lives in a perpetual present. America has no identity problem. In the future, power will belong to those peoples with no origins and no authenticity who know how to exploit that situation to the full.
The Americans are not wrong in their idyllic conviction that they are at the centre of the world, the supreme power, the absolute model for everyone. And this conviction is not so much founded on natural resources, technologies, and arms, as on the miraculous premise of a Utopia made reality, of a society which, with a directness we might judge unbearable, is built on the idea that it is the realization of everything the others have dreamt of - justice, plenty, rule of law, wealth, freedom: it knows this, it believes in it, and in the end, the others have come to believe in it too.
This is what separates us, come what may, from the Americans.We shall never catch them up, and we shall never have their candour. We merely imitate them, parody them with a fifty-year time lag, and we are not even successful at that. We do not have either the spirit or the audacity for what might be called the zero degree of culture, the power of unculture. It is no good our trying more or less to adapt, their vision of the world will always be beyond our grasp, just as the transcendental, historical Weltanschauung of Europe will always be beyond the Americans. Just as the countries of the Third World will never internalize the values of democracy and technological progress. There are some gaps that are definitive and cannot be bridged.