( Bantam 2005 )
America is a nation of 270 million people: 100 million of them are gangsters, another 100 million are hustlers, 50 million are complete lunatics, and every single one of us is secretly in show business. Isn't that fabulous? I mean, how could you fail to have a good time in a country like that? I could live literally anywhere in the world and do what I do, so, obviously, I live in America by choice - not for any patriotic or financial reasons necessarily, but because it's so interesting there. American may be the least boring country on earth, and this despite the fact that the dullards on the religious right and the dullards on the academic left (the two faces of yankee puritanism) seemed to be in competition to see who can do the most to promote compulsory homogenization and institutionalized mediocrity. It won't work. In America, the chronically wild, persistently haywire, strongly individualistic, surprisingly good-humored, flamboyant con-man hoopla is simply bigger than all of them. (1997)
NOTE: The preceding was written several years before the military-industrial complex first seized and then cemented total control of the US government, coup d'etat that would have failed without the active assistance of a rapidly growing population of fearful, non-thinking dupes: "true believers" dumbed down and almost comically manipulated by their media, their church, and their state. So be it. Freedom has long proven too heady an elixir for America's masses, weakened and confused as they are by conflicting commitments to puritanical morality and salacious greed. In the wake of the recent takeover, our prevailing national madness has been ratcheting steadily skyward: the pious semi-literates in the conservative camp tremble and crow, the educated martyrs in the progressive sector writhe and fume. It's a grand show, from a cosmic perspective, though enjoyment of the spectacle is blunted by the havoc being wreaked on nature and by the developmental abuse inflicted on children. We must bear in mind, however, that the central dynamic of our race has never been a conflict between good and evil but rather between enlightenment and ignorance. Ignorance makes the headlines, wins the medals, doles out the punishment, jingles the coin, yet in its clandestine cubbyholes (and occasionally on the public stage) enlightenment continues to quietly sparkle, its radiance outshining the entire disco ball of history. Its day may or may not come, but no matter. The world as it is! Life as it is! Enlightenment as its own reward.