Friday, November 20, 2009

Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes

(In case you’ve forgotten what I’m doing or by what means, read these first. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then continue.)

You knew this was coming.

You…feel me coming? A new vibration? From afar you’ll see me? I’m a…sensation?

At the very least you suspected it. Too long-(this is you thinking)-too long has this blog been carefree. Too many posts have passed us by, like the wind through the wings of the Angelus Novus, without philosophical Storm unt Drunk, there’s something about this I don’t quite like…

Oh, you quite don’t like-d correctly. Feel free to blame it on (one of) my (scholarly) mancrush(es), Dr. Jay Winter, un artist extraordinaire des explications de l’histoire, whose works I first read because they had to deal with nostalgia and emotional relations to national and military monuments and architecture and I was writing my senior thesis on said topic. Then I moved on to a different aspect of architecture under Stalin, and one of the things interesting to me has been the utopian, fantastical aspect of the projects. What book do I find, at this point, but Winter’s 2006 title, Dreams of Peace and Freedom.

Gah! Cut me some slack! All I ask for are some laser-wielding dolphins (I actually quite fear this, seeing what dolphins can do on their own, thank you very much: we give them laser technology and soon they’ll not only para-evolve us, but murder us as well. And they will not thank us for the fish.

These comments are neither here nor there, nor what made me mad. In fact, I have to give Winter credit, because he made me mad both at America and at Russia, all in one page. Today is dedicated to the first. He’s talking about the minor utopian visions of “global citizenship” that have appeared in various forms since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Nothing has happened since that year [1919, Wilson’s “ship-wrecked” plan for a League of Nations] to diminish the commitment of American politicians to defend American ‘exceptionalism’ and to defy international opinion and agreements on global warming, or on protecting the ozone layer (179).
Now, when I look at some things that Russians do, like when they walk the streets and sing nationalistic slogans that are half-Russian, half-English, I think that’s a bad thing, and I think you agree. Look at any medium’s mockery of rednecks or blue collars or any other stereotypical “low class” group, and what do you find? If they’re a minority, the fact of that minority will be picked upon; if they’re white-male-land-owning, their patriotism will be the object of debate. And we’ll make fun of it. So if we look at “exceptionalism” as it relates to other cultures, or to non-dominating elements of society (that awkward phrase because I hesitate to call them “subaltern”), we think it’s a bad thing.

But when politicians (an imprecise umbrella term) use “exceptionalism” as a basis of their reasoning: against the League of Nations, against the Kyoto Protocols, against American national self-determination, against anti-American sentiment all the world over – then it’s applauded.

And…really? Exceptionality? Have you looked at the strength of the dollar recently? When I got here it was $1 – 30.5 rubles. Today it was down to $1 – 28.5. Compare that to 1 Euro – 42.8 r. We certainly are on top of the world, my friends.

Continued tomorrow.

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