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February 15, 2008



just got back from the cinema. i like your take on American identity. i found it interesting that there was an exchange of forceful baptisms in blood by the two men.

powerful message for this blood thirsty country. pax


great review, kester - I'm off to see this v. soon

bob c

truly, this is a powerful insight:

As an outsider it seems the US is, more than elsewhere, a country in search of blood. Family blood - desperately trying to cling on to Scottish, Irish, African, Spanish heritage - and God's blood - desperately trying to divine Christ's blood to purify all the soiled ground beneath everyone's feet.

We are also a country premised on exploration - progress measured in new land conquered, new souls conquered.

p.s. is there a better description of commerce than:

Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that's a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake!


"a country built on escape from back-slidden families, a new puritan world with opportunities for all."

Not entirely. And I think that's maybe a misconception about American identity. Yes, there are those people that you talk about.

But there are also the people who were literally starving to death and found life on these shores. Mostly they just want to be left alone and raise their family, helping out friends and neighbors as they can, seeking enough to help the next generation do better than the one before.

And this is important because you have to realize it's not the oil barons who join the military, oftentimes it's the folks who, rightly or wrongly, genuinely feel they are doing what is a contribution to helping others find that better life.

The Clint Eastwood movie Pale Rider comes to mind in this. There are claim miners and then there the strip miners. The latter maim and destroy and suck the life out of land and people. The former are wanting to find enough of their own to no longer be under the sway of barons and lords, whether such are because of blood or cash.

Most Americans are refugees from something, at some time in the past, escaping what was unbearable to find a new possibility. Some of those people are no better than those they escaped. Some are a whole lot better, even if a whole lot more poor.


To add to that, the Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men is a great contrast to There Will be Blood.

Tommy Lee Jones is the quintessential American, putting in his time against the struggle that's bigger than any one generation. But so too is Josh Brolin's character, who mostly wants to be independent, with a mix of ethics that mostly leave him a good guy, but sometimes just in way over his head. And a lot of Americans see these kinds of characters all over the world, and like Tommy Lee Jones feel there is something to doing the utmost to give them that chance.

This isn't saying this is an ultimately correct approach, but it absolutely does show a different motive than many folks attribute to Americans. And it's not entirely clear that letting folks slaughter each other while afterwards regretting the fact is any more correct. Darfur is not entirely a great moment in world diplomacy.

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