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On the ambiguity of Born in the USA

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Let us imagine a person, who has his existence in living relations to other people, inside as well as outside his work. His work as such is alienating, but he endure it because of his real, living relations. They are his goal in life because they are the ground for his living existence. Let us now  also imagine a person, whos all overriding goal is his work. All his relations are subjected to it. He is not alienated in his work as such, but his work alienates him from all real, living relations. And of course, the more important he finds his work to be, the fewer and more un-real and un-living will his subjected relations be. And the more un-real and un-living these relation tends to be, the more he is fixed and dedicated to his work. Let us name the first person worker, and the other poet. The poet, who more and more concentrates on his work, experiences that he is threatened by his own dissolution. This is so, because what gives a man existence, is his real, living relations to other people. And since for the poet his work gets more and more important, he reduces the ground for his existence. In the end he is an unreal individual who is reduced to have unreal relations inside his work. He himself is a unreal part of his work, and in it and through it he has an unreal relation to unreal others. This un-reality he of course experiences as a threat. He tries to re-connect to real, living relations. He tries to tie the bind that binds. But he tries to do so in his work. But this is of course not possible. In his work his ambition is reduced to simply state: ”Two Hearts are Better than One”, and ”I want to marry You”.

But then – in his work he begins to explore the devastating experience of the worker during the hard-hitting economic depression that is ongoing around him. He sees the worker lose his work, and with it also the economy that granted him and his family and community real, living relations. And so he sees workers, their families and whole communities threatened by dissolution, existentially and morally. But in the workers alienation the poet now suddenly recognize his own ditto. There are of course differences. The worker worked to live, the poet lived to work. The worker lost his ground when he lost his work, the poet his when he in his work lost his real relations. But in their respective work they are both alienated from all real, living relations. Both had these real relations outside their relation to work. The worker had his existence in living relations outside work, and the poet realizes, that also he must have his existence in real relations. He now sees the paradoxical position he is in. His work, in which he tried to find his existence, is alienating him from this very existence. But he has to really hit the ground. This he do when he in a far away little town he sees people dance and drink and talk in their real, living relations, and mesmerized of the apparent simplicity and naturalness of their life, the malady of his alienated condition comes tumbling down over him.

He must, if he will turn away from the nothingness, that threatens him, search his existence in real, living relations. He must have his goal in this, rather than in his work. He has to get out of his work. Fist makes apparent that he is mastering his work, has it in his firm fists, not vice versa. His work, just like the workers work, must give him the economic ground for the real relations in which he will have his existence, i.e. it must give him a wage. And his poetry as such can no longer be what it once was. His poetry must now be an alienation from the alienation of this his older poetry. It thus has two poles: the alienation as such, and the alienation from this his original alienation. We can call the first the Dark-side and the second the Dance-side of his work. Between the Dance and the Dark is a separation. The Dance hinders the Dark to appear as it is: it is no longer the original alienation. The voice of the Dark is no longer an identification with the Dark, the inflated Dance drives it away towards itself: it is the domineering of the two and distracts the attention from the Dark. Likewise hinders the Dark the Dance from getting jubilant, gives it a tint of loss and sadness. The Dark (a condition of lost friends, lost love, lost glory days, lost society, lost war, no real fire in heart, surrender, life in chains) side is passive, with no way out, the Dance-side is one of machinery. But now something really unexpected happens.

He is forced to realize, that his work suddenly reflects a fundamental division in society between the perpetuated dream of this society and the reality of this dream. The ground for this is the above named split in his poetry: his work is not anymore only in the dark, it is - Dancing in the Dark. And so the poets poetry reflects an fundamental opposition in society: between the dream of a un-alienated life that this society propagate, and the very reality of this dream. The Dancing is the false dream and the false self-imagine as a denying of the world in which the poets work was born, the Dark is its reality, the correction of this not come true dream that the rich and powerful propagate to be true. This inner duality of his poetry is now confronting the poet from outside. People, who represent dominant political and economic groups, sees only what they want to see: the Dancing as a propagation of the dream they hold to be true. And that makes the poet infuriated. Now he has to point to the other side of his work. The dark side. But he also has to realize, that it is easier to fall for the only emotive and false interpretation of Dancing, than accepting the more intellectual Dark.

And so, in the end, I can not refrain to give my answer to the question: besides the interesting duality of this poetry, what artistic value has it? I find that its alienating Dancing reduces the emotional elaboration and the possibility to identification on the Dark side. The poets work has two sides, but no real unity. The poet realizes, that other versions of his poetry is needed, if he want to correct the dominant and often misleading Dancing-side of his work.


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