America despairs of its shitty way of life...

I'm seeing it everywhere these days.

Yes, mostly since Katrina, but not just since Katrina.

For example, I was reading one of those "New West" (that's not the correct title, but you get the idea) magazines in a local opthamologist's office here in Helena this morning, waiting for the prognosis on my wife's recent eye surgery. And there was this curious article about Ross Macdonald, author of the "Drowning Pool" and, generally, a long series of crime/detective fiction novels depicting the career of a private detective named "Archer," that was also popularized in several films of Macdonald's novels starring Paul Newman.

Well, Macdonald's "Archer" was something of a philosopher king and Macdonald was one hell of a poetic writer. But the point I really want to make is that his writing could be dark, almost despairing, full of faded dreams and broken dreamers, of which Archer was not the least. So here, right in the middle of my wife's Dr. visit, I am reading this recent periodical, but not recent enough to be Katrina-aware. Seemingly not current enough to be so damn despairing to make such an effort to demonstrate Macdonald's dark California mythology, so fed up with an American dream that just couldn't get the job done quite right, of an America not having, or having sold, its soul.

And then it hit me. This feeling, which I am, myself, all too familiar with these days, has been building for almost a year now. And I wondered if perhaps, like me, nearly every thoughtful, well meaning person, and by this I mean every person with a even a glint of human idealism left, didn't really "take stock" after Bush's reelection; hasn't really, truly despaired for the human race since then. And now it seems I see it everywhere. Despair! In pre-Katrina magazine articles, like the one that inspired these words, ending abruptly and surprisingly as it did with a quote from Macdonald's "Drowning Pool", about swimming in the Pacific ocean; about how it's the only time that Archer, Macdonald's hard-boiled protaganist, ever felt really "clean" in his life; about how all California really needed was a proper "rise in sea level."

In "crime fiction" such emotions are often misread as mere ennui. But their juxtaposition in this article, coupled with its "cut to black" ending... No. This was sadness, real, despairing sadness on the part of the author and perhaps the editor of this article. Sadness without redemption. I say without redemption because, believe me, I looked. When the article just ended so darkly and abruptly, I went searching... for the next page, for a redemptive prolog, for some mitigating conclusion. But there was none. The piece just ended there. QED.

And such, in my opinion, is a current manifestation of intellectual and emotional life in America today. In an America where George W. Bush is not just elected, but reelected, what emotion is left, really, for any thoughtful person, save despair? Where do we go from here? What event can resurrect human hope? What deed can overcome such pure and unknowing corruption? What prayer redeems, or even exorcises, black water and broken faces from America's soul?

No. George W. Bush is not the devil. I am not saying that. But he is the most visible symbol I know for that which is terribly, terribly wrong with this country, and this world. And much as I try, much as I would like, I cannot see past his sneering, cynical, contemptous hatred for the human race, from which his blinding, impossible to conceal, elitism cannot possibly lift him.

God help me, but I still cannot understand how the United States of America reelected George W. Bush!