Or, How the American Dream Isn’t
Today it took a while for a topic to bubble up from my pickled mind. I was reflecting on a film I watched the other night on Netflix; “Revolutionary Road”, staring Leo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet. It was a scathing treatise on the American Dream; ya know, get a good job, usually by attending and graduating college, buy a house, have at least two children and live happily…The film depicted a tragedy. This is what’s been perpetrated in social discourse, led by the media, at least since I was born(1954) and probably was instilled after the war.(WW II) I was a child born into the ‘dream’ and after my dad graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1959 we moved to Albuquerque, NM. I’ve lived here ever since.
The ‘dream’ continued in 1960 when my dad bought a house at the edge of town in which I grew up. I attended new schools as they were built. I went to two older schools as the were finishing the one I would eventually attend, my first two years at elementary school and for 10th grade a rough high school. I was top of my class at the new high school for two years, no seniors! So I’m a ‘product’ of the ‘dream’. I also grew up in war. The Cold War, the ‘Nam. The Cold War lasted over half my life and I’m 64. 37 years in fact. Yep, war.
Yes war, it’s as American as apple pie. Just like violence is. The American Dream is built on war, From the ashes of WW II war has become a way of life here, so much so it doesn’t get much mention these days as conditions here deteriorate and malaise infects a larger portion of life here in the USA. I want to say the ‘dream’ as instilled in discourse is now dead, tossed aside like rubbish in your plastic dumpster. Recycled though to be used again to infect the youth as they come of age. To live the ‘dream’ now involves being a slave to the vampiric debt monsters inhabiting the banking and mortgage systems grabbing profit off the backs of the dystopic ‘dream’. To get an education now most usually involves debt. Lots of debt. Where’s the vaccine to inoculate against this ‘dream’ disease?
Now, for the fine education that you purchase you are installed in the debt system. An indentured servant as this debt won’t go away until paid. No bankruptcies, no relief from the interest accruing at a far greater rate than a bank pays you for keeping your money safe. This is in essence a way to force you to remain a slave to the system. A system that has been instilled over the last 50 years or so. When I went to the UNM tuition was $212.00 a semester, books ware another $200.00 or so. My folks could afford tuition and I paid for my books by working as a dishwasher over the mostly, summer months. Now education involves debt unless your folks are fairly affluent. Some where during that time I became disillusioned with the whole system. No debt though. That would come in the 80’s a different tale than today’s.
I went to school for three semesters. I thought biology suited my inclinations but then chemistry reared its ugly head and I decided to quit. My home life- with my parents- had become untenable. I wanted some real freedom. I had also determined by then that I never wanted children or to be married. I don’t particularly like commitments. Most people in my experience break theirs. So I decided than that I could live on less pay than the ‘dream’ required. Or to use the ol’ hippy credo; I tuned in, turned on and dropped out. I never really wanted all the bourgeois bullshit. I would have liked to own my own house if I had enough money to hire the upkeep. I had enough household chores growing up to last a lifetime. I was required to keep our yard as immaculate as humanly possible and then some. I also wanted a Hemi Challenger to drive around in. Later on I wanted a Ferrari. But I lived on far less and got along fine.
So what I’m getting at is the ‘dream’ has never really existed except in the minds of Americans insidiously infused by the media monster that dominates all life here. I’ve been reading the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard and his social critique of modern life is uncannily prescient. Especially his observations on American life. We are all living in simulation, a living shadow of the real. And we buy into it. We buy…well most anything we see others get on the media, TV in particular. The ‘dream’ now is simulation, Just look at ‘reality’ TV. How in the fuck can anyone chose a mate, a life partner while on national TV. It’s obscene. Yet folks watch this because it fills in the want of a ‘dream’ which is just a simulation of the real one yearns for. This to me is the real dream — to find a way back to what makes us human. Away from the obscene. The obscenity of war, of violence; away.
I’m different than most. I can accept that I’ll never find someone to share a life with me. I am human though and yearn for some form of closeness that’s been missing all my life, Fine, I have my cat. I’ve never bought into the ‘dream’. I don’t want to be a slave anymore. A slave to a system designed to keep pne enslaved. I certainly don’t want my life on TV. I don’t want to be famous. Read by a few perhaps, just so I can say I finally have a voice I never had in school. The ‘dream’ is dead or a simulation which is worse than dead, it’s obscene. We all have to fond a path away from the vampires of profit feeding on the blood of American workers. We have to find a way for peace to be reality away from war and violence. That can be the real America we all yearn for. A way to light the paths of the many from the simulation of life to the real, an existence we can all enjoy for a lifetime. Peace, The Ol’ Hippy