November 22, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Dreaming Up America

Dreaming Up America

Russell Banks

Language: English

Pages: 144

ISBN: 1583228381

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With America ever under global scrutiny, Russell Banks contemplates the questions of our origins, values, heroes, conflicts, and contradictions. He writes with conversational ease and emotional insight, drawing on contemporary politics, literature, film, and his knowledge of American history.

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Table of Contents Title Page Author’s Note Reel One - THE EARLIEST SIGNS OF AN AMERICAN SENSIBILITY Forging America’s idea of itself Reel Two - THE POWER OF WORDS The narrative of race Reel Three - CONQUEST OF THE IMAGINATION Reel Four - OF MAN AND MACHINES Reel Five - A VERY PECULIAR INSTITUTION Homeland Acting on a world stage Shattered dreams Reel Six - THE DARK SIDE ONLY GETS DARKER Reel Seven - THE SHIFTING CENTER Reel Eight - WHAT FOR, WHERE TO Copyright Page Author’s Note

Detroit garage putting together the first Model T by himself. We like to think of ourselves as a country of mechanics, self-taught, by and large. So, yes, we do idealize technology, but the object of our worship isn’t the wizardry and magic of technology, but almost the very opposite. Americans have a home-spun and down-to-earth curiosity about the ways of the physical world and the mechanics of nature and a complementary belief that they can be known and controlled. American likes and dislikes,

the savior of Europe, to some degree rightly so. Had the Americans not intervened in Europe in 1941, it would have been lost to the Nazis. The modern history of Europe would have been very different. So there were lots of reasons for that affirmation of national identity during and after the war. That was when this notion of America being the “only light that shines in the night” really came forward. Here we’d come to save poor benighted Europe from itself! Riding to the rescue! That’s how

Ponce de Leon’s dream of the Fountain of Youth, where you could start life over again, and the New England Puritan dream of God’s Protestant utopian City on a Hill, the New Jerusalem. There were at least three distinct dreams in the beginning. The religious dream of the City on the Hill, where you could live a life that was pure and uninfected by European cosmopolitanism, was almost a pastoral dream, one in which you could become a natural human being living a holy life under the eye of God. And

homicidal dreamers, murderous dreamers.” I was trying to point indirectly to that age-old conflict between our material goals and our spiritual justifications that lie at the heart of the American Dream, and also now at the heart of American history. That conflict has made us murderers over and over again. Thus the true American is a killer. The true American is a cynical, materialistic grabber on the one hand, reaching for gold, yet he has an idealistic, even religious, sense of mission. When

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