Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Crowning Achievement

Generally, the assault on individuality derives with either a totalitarian mentality that asks citizens to march in lock step or with a so-called bourgeois middle brow sensibility which praises conformity to norms, whatever they are, for its own sake. The current pandemic and political unrest have thus created a singularity. For the first time since perhaps the last great pandemic of l918, Americans  are faced with a leveling condition. It used to be that like Holden Caufield you could blame everything on your “lousy childhood," with the idea that you had suffered indignities and insults that separated you from more complacent individuals who lived self-satisfied lives. Generally, the unhappy childhood led to a kind of hyper-awareness that in turn led to the genesis of an artistic personality. Thomas Mann’s “Tonio Kroger” was the prototype for this type of romantic exalted separateness. Now, however, one is hard put to hold one’s puny problems up to the magnifying glass. Even those who have actually been afflicted by COVID are challenged to complain when there are so many others who have been struck with even worse cases. In additon social distancing has resulted in the homogenization of culture. Watching  Netflix is tantamount to Ancient Greek theater where the world was mirrored by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. You cannot differentiate yourself by going to the local art house and seeing the equivalent of Bergman or Antonioni any more than you can afford to differentiate from the run of the mill wishy-washy liberal by becoming an individualistic provocateur who say supports Trump. The stakes are too high. The result has been an unexpected satori for once rabid oppositionists who have been forced to enjoy the pleasures of community. Is there a pleasure in being a Trump hater and watching The Crown like everyone else? The answer turns out to be yes.

Read "Trumpty Dumpty's Great Fall" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

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