Before reading this post you might want to read the following two blog entries (and the comment streams) at Johannes Göransson's Exo-Skeleton.
this one and this one also
Watching the most recent presidential debate (a treat indeed) I was mostly bored——or enraptured by CNN’s green and orange lines indicating male and female feedback.
But when either candidate talked about America being The Greatest Nation on Earth (or even, The Greatest Nation in the History of the World) I sprang to attention. Like a teenager opening his first Playboy. Or just a few moments into his first “slow” dance.
What “America” are we talking about? The America here and now? The all-of-it here-and-now America?
I remember Bly saying (in some interview or essay, and this must be 30-plus years ago) that America could like Rome turn into a black dinosaur.
And what does this have to do with American Poetry or Literature in general? Of our view of foreign literature? Of our view of works in translation?... O, it’s been a long morning already and my breakfast’s so soggy.
(note: my attention was also roused by characterizations of the American Worker: the greatest worker on earth, etc, etc, blah, blah. All I’ll say about that is that for 15 years I ran my own business and we had many employees, and they were mostly American.