11 February 2011

Shouting About the Things They Are Not

Apparently I have been channeling D. H. Lawrence (could be worse, I guess).

...Americans refuse everything explicit and always put up a sort of double meaning. they revel in subterfuge. They prefer their truth safely swaddled in an ark of bulrushes, and deposited among he reeds until some friendly Egyptian princess comes to rescue the babe...

Now listen to me, don't listen to him. He'll tell you the lie you expect. Which is partly your fault for expecting it.

He didn't come in search of freedom of worship. England had more freedom of worship in the year 1700 than America had. Won by Englishmen who wanted freedom, and so stopped at home and fought for it. And got it. Freedom of worship? Read the history of New England during the first century of its existence.

Freedom anyhow? The land of the free! This the land of the free! Why, if I say anything that displeases them, the free mob will lynch me, and that's my freedom. Free ? Why, I have never been in any country where the individual has such an abject fear of his fellow countrymen. Because, as I say, they are free to lynch the moment he shows he is not one of them.


Those Pilgrim Fathers and their successors never came here for freedom of worship. What did they set up when they got here? Freedom, would you call it?

They came largely to get away - that most simple of motives. To get away. Away from what? In the long run, away from themselves. Away from everything. That's why most people have come to America, and still do come. To get away from everything they are and have been.

'Henceforth be masterless.'

Which is all very well, but it isn't freedom. Rather the reverse. A hopeless sort of constraint. It is never freedom till you find something you really positively want to be. And people in America have always been shouting about the things they are not. Unless, of course, they are millionaires, made or in the making.

Studies in Classic American Literature


  1. I think we've talked about this in various facets before...freedom in America is money. People came here for wealth, maybe under the guise of religious freedom. People went West in search of gold. Obviously our idea of wealth has evolved from the tangible existence of gold and oil to electronic dollars, but it's still the same pursuit.

  2. The crazy, the desperate, the power-hungry broached the shores of the "New" England. We are still represented in this manner.