Friday, October 06, 2023

Quite So Flexibly

Do American faces so often look so lost because they are most tragically trapped between a very real dread of coming alive to something more than merely existing, and an equal dread of going down to the grave without having done more than merely be comfortable?  If so, this is the truly American disease.  And would account in part for the fact that we lead the world today in insanity, criminality, alcoholism, narcoticism, psychoanalysm, cancer, homicide and perversion in sex as well as in perversion just for the pure hell of the thing.  Never on the earth of man has he lived so tidily as here amidst such psychological disorder.  Never has any people lived so hygienically while daily dousing itself with the ritual slops of guilt.  Nowhere has any people set itself a moral code so rigid while applying it quite so flexibly.

-- Nelson Algren (1909 - 1981), American novelist, essayist, and short story author, Nonconformity (1953/1996)

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