Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Baudrillard's Terror

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Mar 13, 2007

I sometimes wonder whether it's possible for a European to understand America.

You need to see America while driving a Ford Galaxie on an interstate at night, the neon glow of the city lights reflecting the low-hanging clouds on a sultry steamy summer evening. If you do not see this, if you cannot imagine it, you do not understand America.

And I'm driving into Houston on a rain slicked Texas road
Land so flat and sky so dark I say a prayer to float
Should all at once the Sanasito surge beyond its banks
Like Noah reaching higher ground I'd offer up my thanks

Cause I'm a stranger here No one you would know
I'm just passing through I am therefore I go
The moon rose in the east But now it's right above
As I say aloud Goodnight America

(Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Everybody understands that America is an illusion, a wonderland of pink flamingos and purple velvet.

But it's their illusion. It belongs to the people; it was created by the people. They do remember driving their cars on the interstate, listening to the DJ, their futures riding on four wheels and a dream. They made this; everything in America was made.

If the post-modernists were misinterpreted, it was because their interpreters believed that there could be an interpretation, some stance, other than a point of view, that represented their thought. If it were up to me, I would drop their books, shatter them into a thousand pieces, each a one-paragraph blog post, with no determinate start page, each reader entering from a different vector, each word meaning something different with each glint of the reflecting light.

If post-modernism had no impact, it's because everyone stood around, waiting for it to say something to do them, when all along the message was, that this is yours, to pick up, and create what you will. It is perhaps no accident that Baudrillard was from common parents; when you do not inherit your history you have to make it, and when you make it, it becomes yours.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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