Monday, January 10, 2011
A Place in the Sun
I've just returned from a trip to the US, more familiar than professional, with more time spent in small towns than big cities, and more time than either in some of those now-ubiquitous communities that are in the nebulous somewhere in-between. We don't really have adequately descriptive names to fit the Rancho Cucamongas of this day and age, places with substantial population (comparable, for example, to that of Mozart's Vienna, and larger than most of the towns Bach lived in) but not yet much there, there (as Stein famously said of Oakland). Where are the great novels about such places? Who are the great composers in these places? Really talented, imaginative people come of of these places, but they don't tend to stay, making their careers if they can instead in the big cities, competing against fellow asylum seekers for the few available places in the sun. And that strikes me as a major opportunity that we ought not let go. Because there is poetry in these places, and both substance and potential in the locales and letting that go — ceding it to the anti-intellectual, anti-diversity, anti-cultural economic elite, the one with the real temporal power, the one that is steadily making over the US into a land of interchangeable strip malls filled with the same coast-to-coast chains of minimum wage-staffed shops and fast food joints — is a tragic mistake.