Différance And American Attitude

Minerva wrote this about American Gods:

“The reader encounters here on another important feature of the modern American culture : Consumer Culture . Just like that one spends money on new things, we use money on experiences, which also includes the sacred. In America waits always on the next new , whether it is products, ideas or experiences, and replaced regularly in the same way as other goods. Once rejected meaning, they no longer holds something for those who previously kept them alive.”

But as you can read in these excerpts, especially in the paragraph about Disney World, this consumer culture is carrying a loss within itself, a différance from the ideal literary object and the resume in literature criticism. The careful reader will maybe recognize this as a global phenomena in capitalism and spectacular societies.

From “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman:

“This is the only country in the world,” said

Wednesday, into the stillness, “that worries

about what it is.”

“What?”

“The rest of them know what they are. No

one ever needs to go searching for the heart

of Norway. Or looks for the soul of

Mozambique. They know what they are.”

“And . . . ?”

“Just thinking out loud.”

“So you’ve been to lots of other countries,

then?”

Wednesday said nothing. Shadow glanced at

him. “No,” said Wednesday, with a sigh.

“No. I never have.”

(…)

“This is a roadside attraction,” said

Wednesday. “One of the finest. Which means

it is a place of power.”

“Come again?”

“It’s perfectly simple,” said Wednesday. “In

other countries, over the years, people

recognized the places of power. Sometimes

it would be a natural formation, sometimes it

would just be a place that was, somehow,

special. They knew that something important

was happening there, that there was some

focusing point, some channel, some window

to the Immanent. And so they would build

temples or cathedrals, or erect stone circles,

or . . . well, you get the idea.”

“There are churches all across the States,

though,” said Shadow.

“In every town. Sometimes on every block.

And about as significant, in this context, as

dentists’ offices. No, in the USA, people still

get the call, or some of them, and they feel

themselves being called to from the

transcendent void, and they respond to it by

building a model out of beer bottles of

somewhere they’ve never visited, or by

erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of

the country that bats have traditionally

declined to visit. Roadside attractions:

people feel themselves being pulled to

places where, in other parts of the world,

they would recognize that part of themselves

that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog

and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level

they cannot truly describe, and profoundly

dissatisfied on a level beneath that.”

“You have some pretty whacked-out

theories,” said Shadow.

“Nothing theoretical about it, young man,”

said Wednesday. “You should have figured

that out by now.”

(…)

“So according to your theory,” said Shadow,

“Walt Disney World would be the holiest

place in America.”

Wednesday frowned, and stroked his beard.

“Walt Disney bought some orange groves in

the middle of Florida and built a tourist town

on them. No magic there of any kind. I think

there might be something real in the original

Disneyland. There may be some power there,

although twisted, and hard to access. But

some parts of Florida are filled with real

magic. You just have to keep your eyes open.

Ah, for the mermaids of Weeki Wachee . . .

Follow me, this way.”

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