The narrator, describing the obsessed need of a motorcyclist for speed, observed that. And so Kundera associates speed with forgetting and forgetting with both ecstasy and fearlessness Such intense focus on the immediate blots out all that is not in this existential moment and brings about ecstasy.
But the forgetting necessary for such ecstasy is not just of the world outside of the experienced bliss, it requires a degree of self-forgetting. In times of rapid social and economic change, one expects a greater focus on action than on remembering—or, rather, memory comes more often in the form of nostalgia.
- 2012 U.S. Intelligence Community Threat Assessment on Global Water Security - Shortages, Floods, National Security Impact, Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya;
- The Community Economic Development Handbook: Strategies and Tools to Revitalize Your Neighborhood.
- How Equality Destroyed the Carnegie Family | Intellectual Takeout.
- Contribute to This Page;
- Navigation menu;
For people who live in times of glacial change, there is no opportunity or need for nostalgia. One might pine for a remembered and often idealized past, but one does not expect it to serve as a guide to the present. And so speed does not eradicate memory, it transmogrifies it into nostalgia—something useless except as an experience that signifies alienation. Speed and equality both separate rather than bring together; both stress things as abstractly understood rather than as encumbered.
In this sense, they both liberate things and people from context—freeing them for more utilitarian purposes, or to be used as instruments rather than seeing them embedded in their contextual complexity. For people like Carnegie, who had built empires amid the destruction of the old, equality means opportunity and new beginnings.
Equality means being unbounded by the past or by hierarchies that seek to preserve. And for the winners in the race, to win as Andrew is to suggest that the race was fair. A myth of renewal was part of their cultural inheritance.
The violent sweeping away of inhabitants of new lands to satisfy the American desire to be in motion expresses the modernist urge to power, particularly when one thinks of life in terms of a race or competition and when one associates efficiency and change with progress. The creative urge that remade these vacated lands reinforced equality as independent and abstract—of the individual who takes his chances in a new land, who has the opportunity to reinvent himself to people who do not know his past, and to succeed or fail according to the logic of chance and effort.
A thousand often savage inequalities emerged and dissipated over the decades. At any given moment one group defends a state of affairs on the ground of equality while another attacks the same state of affairs employing the same vocabulary of equality, if not always the identical principle.
The historian struggles to understand countless such fissures in American democracy because the political and social vocabulary appropriate to the setting is so compact.
California Hills & Other Wood Engravings.
Inescapable words such as equality contain a vast array of both meanings and contradictions, the richness of which brings about despair rather than understanding. Under the cope of equality, countless clashes over power, resources, and moral purpose, threatened national stability during much of our history. We need not, however, become so invested in the equality sweepstakes in order to expose how equality-motion-speed produced great challenges to Americans living between the Civil War and World War I.
Our focus here is on how these kinds of transformations offered great promise for those who wanted the new, just as it vexed those who found their way of living threatened by forces unknown and uncontrolled. Countless Americans belonged to both camps—dazzled and dismayed by new possibilities that eclipsed familiar patterns, by new forces that promised to liberate, though they seemed alien and frightening. Equality, in almost any of its expressions, dissolved forms and fostered a protean age.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. See his book All the Money in the World. Some people want to stress a set of normative principles that anchor American understanding of liberty and order and they will often point to the Declaration of Independence as evidence. Often expressed as a species of Republicanism, people who stress America-as-idea will emphasize trans-historical ideals and the need for public virtue to remain faithful to those ideals. But other scholars emphasize what is clearly at least one powerful strain of Americanism—its emphasis on experience rather than abstract reason and its corresponding openness to change and growth.
All rights reserved. Search form Search. Ted McAllister July 6, Social Share. The narrator, describing the obsessed need of a motorcyclist for speed, observed that the man hunched over his motorcycle can focus only on the present instant of his flight; he is caught in a fragment of time cut off from both the past and the future; he is wrenched from the continuity of time; he is outside time; in other words, he is in a state of ecstasy; in this state he is unaware of his age, his wife, his children, his worries, and so he has no fear, because the source of fear is in the future, and a person freed of the future has nothing to fear.
What a fine dream come true to have gotten on our feet with this book.
Full Cast & Crew
James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. Email address:. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Sign me up for the newsletter!
Greetings, lovers of the Southern literary tradition. Twelve linked novels and 3 story collections in this series are scheduled for publication through I blog about this longterm literary art project here at Edgewater County Confidential. Join me.
Ratings and reviews
The author and his publication collaborator, Catherine A. The author eyes his empty coffee cup and ponders a refill. With editor Elizabeth Leverton. Jenn McCallister sings one from the heart, and the diaphragm. Cat Shuler talks about how much the project meant to her. At long last, the book release event!