Cultural Critique

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You here talk about the American Spirit all the time, but what is this “Spirit” we always talk about? Is it some ghost that follows us around, or is it an animal spirit that guides Americans like many Native American tribes believe in? I will be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of what the United States has turned into over the years, but once I came across the articles “Is America Falling Apart,” by Anthony Burgess, and “9.11.01: The Skyscraper and the Airplane” by Adam Goodheart I started to really think about it. Is America really just a big country that thinks so highly of itself or is it a country devoted to trying to improve not only it’s self but others as well. I believe that the American Spirit can be found by looking at these kinds of questions.

In Burgess’ essay, “Is America Falling Apart,” he examines the differences between the “spirits” of both Americans and Europeans. He explores different aspects and actions of both individuals and the governments in the two separate continents. Burgess hails from Britain and while writing his essay he resides in Italy giving him a very European look on the matter, Europeans are usually more laid back and easier going than American’s seem to be now-a-days. He explains that Americans seem to have a younger attitude, which he calls the “Pre-War” attitude. This “Pre-war” attitude he suggests is a more optimistic outlook on life. For the most part American’s view there day as good, if one thing goes wrong however it sometimes or more likely ruins the whole thing for them. Europeans on the other hand have what Burgess describes as a “Post-war” attitude. A “post-war” attitude is a more pessimistic outlook on life, they view there days as dark and drudging, but if one thing goes right they seem to cheer up for the rest of the day. When I first read this I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about, then I looked at my day. I for the most part had a good day but then I got one semi-lousy grade on a quiz and I was in a bad mood the rest of the day. He also talks about how American’s are all about individualism and protecting our rights to make ourselves be strong and be able to be ourselves. Europeans tend to be more of a country oriented more towards groups. In Europe most countries have a majority of government run programs such as healthcare, and insurance that takes care of the masses and not just individuals. The most important point made in Burgess’ essay is how America is, what Burgess describes, as a “Timocracy.” We are a country driven and run by money and the people who have it. Families who have money usually have had it for many years and usually have more opportunities offered to them. Whether it be better schools, higher paying jobs, or government positions it seems that most of the country is run by these families that have the ability to pay for things, or pay their way into things.

In Goodheart’s essay, “9.11.01: The Skyscraper and the Airplane”, he does what you expect talk all about 9/11 and everything that happened, but he takes a very large spin on the whole idea. Goodheart focuses on the evolution of both the airplane and the skyscraper to help us envision how they grew up in the United States where they were “born”. He goes into depth of how designing and building the first skyscraper was almost like a floodgate into the future. Not only was this building large and taller than anything but it opened many doors. Now we had more jobs, took up less land space, electricity, water, and the list goes on and on. So, “did the modern city give birth to the skyscraper, or vice versa?” (9.11.01-306) Goodheart goes on to describe how the airplane came into existence, he asks the question of why we trust being in a skyscraper so much more than being in an airplane. The image of 9/11 is brought back into the picture after his in-depth look at the two technology advances. Why would the terrorists choose to run an...
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