Saturday, May 3, 2008

Monologue of an Ignorant Observation

I'm not going to go into the political and sociological evolution of America because I don't feel like writing that much, but lately I feel we resemble the height of society that has been seen in other cultures. More specifically, the beginning of the downward turn after the height. I've seen this primarily in our communal ideals and approach to work.

But before I jump on those ideals, I wanted to draw a quick parallel to the golden age of the country that "discovered" America. The age began in 1492. This date is notable in Spanish history, not for the discovery of America but for the conquering of the Moors at Granada. Spain had finally set in motion the end of its Jewish and Muslim population, but by doing so, had rid itself of it's merchants and craftsmen. As Spain pushed all the craftsmen and merchants out of the country, it built up its military and cultivated its greatest art. While Velazquez was painting "Las Meninas" and Cervantes was writing Don Quixote, Charles V brought together the worlds greatest empire since Rome.


Though Spain was very wealthy, it spent all it's money on the military. Though Spain was an agrarian state, it had pushed out all those who worked in the fields or made the tools necessary to do so. It had no producing economy and no one to do the work even if it wanted to produce something. Everyone sought the idealism of the Renaissance and didn't have time to get their hands dirty.

Very needless to say: Spain lost it's power, money, health and autonomy.

What made me think of all of this? It wasn't that America is known around the world for it's military, culture, and "consuming" economy; instead it was something my wife said. She said, "I work in a video store and we have to watch VHS tapes because the DVD player is broken; and we have to watch them on the small screen because the large screen isn't working either. I work in a video store and no one can fix the player or the TV."

Without thinking, I said, "Of course not, they're all college students."

6 comments:

  1. tell me about it. i just had a 2-hour freak out trying to fix the clicker on my laptop touchpad (it popped out from my overzealous clicking).

    i thought i was going to have to call the freaking warranty center and spend the rest of my evening talking with tech support in india.

    thank bejesus i have tiny asian hands, useful for assembling WWII model airplanes and such.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All roads lead to Rome. Or, wait, is it good intentions pave the roads? Anyway, they both end in the same place.

    The consumer state balloon is leaking and may very well pop. The democrats want to guide us through a slow leak that makes you think your meager existence is great, while the republicans want to pop it and everyone for themselves.

    I'm stock piling seeds for a victory garden.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh man, what an excellent entry. Couldn't agree more. Often I think of Rome and the US, comparing the vast empires and power with each other... and then the inevitable downfalls...

    I just wrote an application essay over education in the United States. It involved Sir Ken Robinson (I'm sure you've seen his awesome video on TED.com... if not, hurry. Go.)

    Thank-you for reminding me to get outside of myself. I guess I felt like my world was caving in with all of this end of year stress. Spring here has been so nice though.

    Hope NY's is as well. :]

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think I would laugh as the world ended. Not sure if it would be joy, lunacy, or sorrow.

    The sad thing about America is that we don't have any cool old stuff for the tourists to come see. What will we do?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hear ya, broseph.

    Keep perched on your watchtower, and don't forget to gird your loins nice and tight.

    Food, clothing, and contentment...

    ReplyDelete
  6. My bad. I haven't been reading here, but I should be. Thanks for the poetry, and the historical observations. I worry, too, that we're fiddling while Rome burns. I worry that our education system is not teaching us some of the things we need to know. Like technical stuff, and money management and how to be citizens instead of simply Good Little Consumers. I insist on hope, because otherwise, what's left? But I share your concerns.

    ReplyDelete