Posting from South America will be rather slower than anticipated, unless the gods of chance bring my laptop back to me. (It would also be helpful to have my comedy notebooks back. What the hell is a thief in a Spanish-speaking country going to do with an English-keyboard, American-cabled, password-protected laptop and a bunch of jokes written in a foreign language and a barely decipherable hand? Keep the cash, I don’t care, but the rest – can’t that get returned? Honor among thieves and all that?)
Anyway. A couple of observations from my first week here in the Other Hemisphere:
1. Calling oneself ‘American’ is meaningless. There is a very long Spanish conjugation of ‘Estados Unidos’ that basically translates to ‘United Statesian’, and it is the proper way to identify oneself. ‘American’ is met with confused stares, as South Americans – or at least Chileans, or at least Santiagoans that I’ve met – also happen to consider themselves Americans. A statement like ‘In America, we speak English!’ would, therefore, be absolutely nonsensical here.
2. There’s a lot of 9/11 in Chile – not out of some sense of solidarity with the United States, but because September 11, 1973, was the date that Augusto Pinochet staged a military coup (with our support), and democratically elected president Salvador Allende committed suicide. It is pure coincidence that the dates should overlap, but it’s kind of jarring to see the same date treated with similar national reverence and remembrance here, and know that is in honor of something completely different.
A couple of interesting links, from the meager offerings I kept in my Reader for this trip:
1. The Urbanophile discusses why sprawl is necessarily an economic downward spiral – just another example of how exurban development is predicated entirely on short-term thinking (for further evidence, see: Recession, Great).
2. NPR grapples with the sad fact that even the savviest of cultural consumers will miss the vast majority of what is being produced. It’s a numbers game, and no individual can ever win.
3. Lastly, the ever-astute Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses the complex interrelationship between history and myth, fact and storytelling. Incisive and wise, as usual.