Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Loss of Self Steam

Ever since I reviewed Richard Powers' new novel, The Echo Maker, it has in one way or another haunted me, echoed, if you will, in my receptors and shouted across such synapses as I have. The novel is a multifarious examination, a vivisection of Self? What is self?

Yet another aspect of it just collided with me, an asteroid striking Earth as it were. The protagonist of The Echo Maker, Mark, a youngish twenty-seven-year-old, suffers an accident in which his brain/sense of self is severely concussed, leaving him to suspect the authenticity of those closest to him, and having severe effects down the line. For instance, a neurologist who becomes interested in Mark's case begins to suffer his own loss of self and suspicion of things about him due to another type of collision, that being the regard or esteem of those about him.

We Americans in macrocosm and I in microcosmic point as protagonist in the novel in my life have suffered severe damage to self as a result of a collision with the presidency of George W. Bush.

Essentially an individual powered with about 80 MB of enthusiasm, my self has been undercut by an on-going anger, a persistent throbbing of frustration, hands over the ears to block out the siren wail of privileged keening and crowing. My Self has been concussed to the point where I often question the messages so cheerfully recieved in the past from my receptors.

America's self has been accorded the equivalent of Post-Traumatic Stress; we few, we happy few, we band of brothers have been driven to the boondocks of our Balkan natures, distrusting one another, cynical and misanthropic, given to rebarbative commentary, trading in our economy cars for Hummers and our Do-Unto-Others psyches for homophobia, and the raw, red meat of anti-Semitism and anti-liberalism. We feed on suspicion, self-interest, privatization, and immigration issues as though they were M & Ms to be savored at a movie.

It is true enough that I, the individual, take pleasure at the growing awareness of others that the Bush presidency has sent America reeling to the canvas, a badly out-fought contender, undoubtedly the leading candidate for the worst regime in our history. It is true that many of us try to be taken for Canadians or effect a chipper G'day, mate demeanor, hoping to be considered an Aussie, but no one is fooled. There is something about the dull light in our eyes, the slight hunch of the shoulder. T.S. Eliot had his Hollow Men, we are the Bush equivalent of Stepford wives.

The results are incalculable.

Will we ever be able to trust again? Will the neocons mount one more campaign, enjoin us one more time to hold the line, stay the course, keep our ducks in a row?

I do not want my ducks in a row. I don't know for certain where I want them, but I certainly do not want them in Iraq, and even though George W. Bush is beginning to be described as lame duck, I don't want my ducks in the White House.

Persons who have been mugged or victimized in an armed robbery have experienced a kind of loss of innocence that lingers, perhaps for the rest of their life. To this point in my life, I have not been mugged or robbed and so I am mercifully free of that post stress trauma, but I have been mugged and burglarized by my president, and a cadre of Republicans with whom I share the Jacuzzi at the Montecito Y, and say what you will about time's healing powers, I flinch at the memory.

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