Any hope that America would finally grow up vanished with the rise of fundamentalist Christianity. Fundamentalism, with its born-again regression, its pink-and-gold concept of heaven, its literal-mindedness, its rambunctious good cheer . . . its anti-intellectualism . . . its puerile hymns . . . and its faith-healing . . . are made to order for King Kid America.
American couples have gone to such lengths to avoid the interference of in-laws that they have to pay marriage counselors to interfere between them.
Americans worship creativity the way they worship physical beauty -- as a way of enjoying elitism without guilt: God did it.
Chinks in America’s egalitarian armor are not hard to find. Democracy is the fig leaf of elitism.
People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they’re all asleep at the switch. Consequently we are living in the Age of Human Error.
The confidence and security of a people can be measured by their attitude toward laxatives. At the high noon of the British sun, soldiers in far-flung outposts of the Empire doctored themselves with “a spoonful o’ gunpowder in a cuppa ‘ot tea.” Purveyors and users of harsh laxatives were not afraid of being thought mean and unfriendly just because their laxatives were. But in America, the need to be nice is so consuming that nobody would dare take a laxative that makes you run up the stairs two at a time, pushing others aside and yelling, “Get out of the way!”
The proliferation of support groups suggests to me that too many Americans are growing up in homes that do not contain a grandmother. A home without a grandmother is like an egg without salt and Helpists know it. They have jumped into the void left by the disappearance of morbid old ladies from the bosom of the American family.
The vitamin has been reified. A chemical intangible originally defined as a unit of nutritive value, it was long ago reified into a pill. Now it is a pill; no one except a few precise scientists define it as anything else. Once the vitamin became a pill, it became “real” according to the precepts of American Cartesianism: “I swallow it, therefore it is.”
Those colorful denizens of male despair, the Bowery bum and the rail-riding hobo, have been replaced by the bag lady and the welfare mother. Women have even taken over Skid Row.
Owning your own home is America’s unique recipe for avoiding revolution and promoting pseudo-equality at the same time. To keep citizens puttering in their yards instead of sputtering on the barricades, the government has gladly deprived itself of billions in tax revenues by letting home “owners” deduct mortgage interest payments.
For men who want to flee Family Man America and never come back, there is a guaranteed solution: homosexuality is the new French Foreign Legion.
Any discussion of the problems of being funny in America will not make sense unless we substitute the word wit for humor. Humor inspires sympathetic good-natured laughter and is favored by the “healing-power” gang. Wit goes for the jugular, not the jocular, and it’s the opposite of football; instead of building character, it tears it down.
Showing up at school already able to read is like showing up at the undertaker’s already embalmed: people start worrying about being put out of their jobs.
The American woman’s concept of marriage is a clearly etched picture of something uninflated on the floor. A sleeping-bag without air, a beanbag without beans, a padded bra without pads. To work on it, you start pumping -- what the magazines call “breathing life into your marriage.” Do enough of this and the marriage becomes a kind of Banquo’s ghost, a quasi-living entity.
During the feminist seventies men were caught between a rock and a hard-on; in the fathering eighties they are caught between good hugs and bad hugs.
In its purest sense, nicknaming is an elitist ritual practiced by those who cherish hierarchy. For preppies it’s a smoke signal that allows Bunny to tell Pooky that they belong to the same tribe, while among the good ole boys it serves the cause of masculine dominance by identifying Bear and Wrecker as Alpha males.
Time has lost all meaning in that nightmare alley of the Western world known as the American mind. We wallow in nostalgia but manage to get it all wrong. True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories . . . but American-style nostalgia is about as ephemeral as copyrighted déjà vu.
We want a president who is as much like an American tourist as possible. Someone with the same goofy grin, the same innocent intentions, the same naive trust; a president with no conception of foreign policy and no discernible connection to the U.S. government, whose Nice Guyism will narrow the gap between the U.S. and us until nobody can tell the difference.
Self-help books are making life downright unsafe. Women desperate to catch a man practice all the ploys recommended by these authors. Bump into him, trip over him, knock him down, spill something on him, scald him, but meet him.
America is not a democracy, it’s an absolute monarchy ruled by King Kid. In a nation of immigrants, the child is automatically more of an American than his parents. . . . Americans regard children as what Mr. Hudson in “Upstairs, Downstairs” called “betters.” Aping their betters, American adults do their best to turn themselves into children. Puerility exercises droit de seigneur everywhere.
The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners.
He travels fastest who travels alone, and that goes double for she. Real feminism is spinsterhood.
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