Sunday, 8 December 2013


Just as the 20th was the American century, the 21st may be the epoch of East Asian preeminent global influence. While this by itself does not entail America's eclipse any more than Europe's decline when
disillusioned scholars and existentialist philosophers pronounced the premature decline of the west after WWI, the time for looking into defining the future in terms of a new renaissance is upon American

The Puritan work ethic deeply embedded in American culture and the intense competitive sense in all endeavors will allow the US protected by two oceans east and west, and weak neighbors north and south to
remain a global player for a very long time, despite Europe's resurgence and East Asia's increasing global influence. Like an ancient Chinese red lantern at the gate of a lord's mansion, every society's value system guides its people toward a common goal. Such a goal was evident in 1844 when Ralph W. Emerson wrote *Young American* and *Politics* expressing Jeffersonian ideals embodied in a somewhat naïve but optimistic nationalism during the nascent railroad era and prospects for westward expansion right before the US-Mexico War.

Has the time come for an American Renaissance at the dawn of the 21st century, and what type of renaissance? There has been no shortage of "futurists" whose visions are lifted right out of science fiction
robo-fantasy and Bill Gates-type micro-digitized universe that makes housework and office work a Spielberg movie adventure. The question is whether the ancient Chinese red lantern is guiding Americans toward a future of more anxiety and fear induced by yet another "machine renaissance" that will keep man enslaved. From Washington and Jefferson to Lincoln and JFK, president-heroes abound as societal role models; even the fresh optimistic face of Obama projects hope without anxiety and fear for the future owing to a micro-political renaissance on the way.

Does the US need Augustus Caesar to reform the imperial system, or at least a leader projecting all of The Prince's traits without possessing them as Machiavelli argued; just as long as people believe in symbolism and act on it then political renaissance is a reality? Perhaps religious revival--renaissance of faith--is the
solution. Laudatory protestations indicate that "middle America" craves the Messiah's return; at least that is where the Chinese red lantern may be guiding the flock though that is not what is hiding behind the gate of the Lord's manor. What if the Messiah cannot compete with mall-shop therapy, plastic surgery, and the drive-up as a way of life?

What then of a faith renaissance, where then is the Chinese red lantern guiding "middle America"? Is the future pointing toward a more fast-food, even faster Microsoft culture--everything from drive-up banking, drive-up college degrees, drive-up weddings, and drive-up prayer, all now available on the web? Of the venerable poet Ovid writing in the nascent era of the Roman Empire and Christianity, of the emperor Augustus Caesar who exiled Ovid as he endeavored to establish sound foundations for a new Rome plagued by internal strife and patrician decadence, of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah accidentally emerging from the small Roman province to leave a remarkable legacy on western civilization, what type of renaissance
will secular America choose?

Clearly the question of greed in American and indeed modern culture is one that goes to the heart of a value system shaped by the political economy of capitalism. The individual is molded by the dominant culture, so I would not argue that the individual is "born" a certain way, greedy vs.generous, self-centered vs. altruistic, etc. This is an argument that English philosopher John Locke advanced in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. To bring this back to the US value system, it is true that drastic changes require a cultural revolution - highly unlikely in the absence of a political and socioeconomic systemic change. Therefore, the US will remain more or less the same in its institutional structure and values.

In the early 21st century can "drive-up" Micro-digitized America do without the inspiration of the poet aesthete intent on disturbing rather than calming the beleaguered spirit? Disengaged from tradition and what Carl Jung calls the "Participation mystique," modern man, especially modern "middle American drive-up, digitized man" is the culmination of techno-hope that like plastic surgery can repair external problem areas, while just beneath the surface the problem remains. "The man whom we can call 'modern' is solitary. He is so of necessity and at all time," writes Jung, in *Modern Man in Search of a Soul*.

Only the  poet's inspiration, Ovid's aesthetic spirit imbued into "drive-up digital future-world" can modern man rediscover his lost soul and from there begin to create a "drive-up-free" world, disconnecting dial-a-prayer, now also available on the web for techno-loners.

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