Saturday, January 17, 2009

Out to Pilgrimage

It's true, America.

I've got half an eye on The Real Housewives of Orange County (free admission to a zoo of stupidity that scarily informs more American values than we perhaps care to note), and most of my attention on an Esquire article by the wonderful Tom Junod, who has another great piece in the current edition ("As soon as America was attacked, Americans were told that what was really attacked was their freedom; in retrospect, however, it seems clear that the terrorists were aiming at the target that was most vulnerable and exposed - our economy. Our freedom, after all, was not in their power to destroy: it was in ours.")

Earlier today, first running at the gym and then studying Hebrew at a café, I joined with surrounding strangers to catch coverage of Obama's train ride to Washington. (He echoed Lincoln's 12-day journey from Illinois to Washington in 1861. History is the greatest, saddest poem: Lincoln returned to Illinois by train in 1865.)

Advertisements at this moment are invoking the Old West to sell the New West, selling pregnancy tests, selling diets, and selling re-runs of the Golden Globes. Meanwhile, there's a tenuous ceasefire in Gaza; American banks look after number one (that is, not Americans: "We’re not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public."); and seas continue rising (on this day in history: "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.")

It's true, America, and sometimes I can only think of Ginsberg and what he would say and what he said:

"Toward what city
will I travel? What wild houses
do I go to occupy?
What vagrant rooms and streets
and lights in the long night
urge my expectation? What genius
of sensation in ancient
halls? what jazz beyond jazz
in future blue saloons?
what love in the cafés of God?

I thought, five years ago
sitting in my apartment,
my eyes were opened for an hour
seeing in dreadful ecstasy
the motionless buildings
of New York rotting
under the tides of Heaven.

There is a god
dying in America
already created
in the imagination of men
made palpable
for adoration:
there is an inner
anterior image
of divinity
beckoning me out
to pilgrimage.

O future, unimaginable God."

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