Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Against Inauguration

I wonder if anyone will have quite gotten what I meant by yesterday's poem. As I read Barack Obama's inauguration speech, and read Blanco's and others' inaugural poems, they're all about the ideology of America – its “dream” as we like to say, infusing the word with various ironies; but whether we declare the dream reached (reachable – semi-reachable – nobly unreachable) or abandoned, we all seem to agree that having one is a good idea. I'm proposing (in that poem at least) that it's actually a curse, not a blessing. That we should dedicate ourselves, not to propositions, but to each other, whoever the hell we are and wherever the hell we came from: that we're Americans, not because we hold any particular set of beliefs or ideals, but simply because we live within the borders of the United States. I'm proposing that rather than start over again and get it right this time – the immigrant's perpetual yen, and his downfall – that we work right here right now with what we have: that we accept our history and all its implications, rather than repudiating what doesn't fit “the dream”: in short, that we try – for once – gentleness, acceptance, and staying at home. And looking after all our inconvenient, needy, irritating relatives, rather than opting to ditch it all and start everything all over again.

PS: For an almost exactly opposite, and much more thought-out, response to President Obama's second inaugural, see Peter Stephens' wonderful essay.


Zhoen said...
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Zhoen said...


I've never found dreams, or wishes or beliefs to get me anywhere. Oh, not a bad place to get an idea, but nothing worth building on, nothing to trust in.