2007. hello all. we are returned from paradise. must report that there is at least one place left where peace still exists. you know i had this little rant written about this that i found at steven johnsons blog. but i decided to delete it because why start off the new year with the same old crazily fucking absurd story. right?
instead i will start with the cheery winter story of the donner party. i watched a dvd from the american experience doc series. beautifully done by the brother (?) of ken burns, he of the epic civil war documentary. very much in the ken burns style. but anyway, i digress. the point of all that is to get to alexis de tocqueville. the documentary begins with a quote by him. he continues to amaze me. i will really sit down and read him one day when i grow up. but for now i will continue to marvel at his insight into america and americans in the little snippets i find littered throughout our culture. he made these observations in the 1800's no less. the 1800's. this particular quote is not only appropriate to the doomed donner partys decision to find 'the shortest route' to california, but is also, i think, appropriate to the holiday season and the crazy wake of shopping that follows. it sums up eloquently a major theme in my work, in my spiritual struggle and in our collective and unexamined dreams. have at it.
"it is odd to watch with what feverish ardour americans pursue prosperity, ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. they cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach, as if they expected to stop living before they had relished them. death steps in, in the end, and stops them, before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them." -alexis de tocqueville