February 24, 2013

"Americans are always talking about the American Dream."

"They refer to it in all their books and the concept has become a symbol of American culture. This is what made me want to read more about it. Can we apply its principles in Saudi Arabia and how can we achieve a better way of life?"

I was already in the middle of blogging this Saudi Gazette opinion piece by Samar Fatany, when I got about 2/3 of the way into it and saw:
Since the 1920s, several authors, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, have ridiculed the chase for the American Dream. In his book "The Great Gatsby", Fitzgerald, reflects upon the American Dream’s demise, and the pessimism of contemporary Americans.
Gatsby! He's everywhere!

23 comments:

St. George said...

Saudi Arabia is a tribal theocratic monarchy.

Imagine if the U.S. were "The United States of Washington," and today the descendants of George Washington ruled us. There would be a special government department, as there is in Saudi, to distribute to the thousands of family members the cream off the top of the government's income. Of course, the government would own all the natural resource extraction companies, such as Exxon. These family members would be free to commandeer the national airline for their personal use. They would be free to build mansions anywhere, say, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. And, obviously, laws would not apply to them, for the most part, unless they did something embarrassing. Then they would be exiled or publicly executed or perhaps dropped out of a helicopter.

Washington's Protestant sect would be the only one allowed to operate churches. All others would be banned. There might also be forbidden cities where only Christians would be permitted to visit. Catholic regions, perhaps the northeast, would be under near martial law, and Catholics, being dissidents possibly loyal to the Vatican, would not be able to hold senior positions in government or business, except for a few tokens.

The country as a whole would have been cobbled together through military conquest, and those regions which felt loyalty to Hispanic or other ethnic groups would have all traces of their architectural or cultural legacies wiped out by so-called urban renovation projects.

Of course, there would be many huge and secret military bases operated by a foreign power in The United States of Washington. These Chinese or Russian bases would be used, among other things, as bases for drones which would be used to target and execute "terrorist" Americans living in Mexico or Canada or pretty much anywhere.

Etc, etc. American dream. Not so much.

edutcher said...

Him and Chicken Man.

As for the Saudis, first, a lot more freedom would be required for any dreaming to occur.

tim maguire said...

it's not just Gatsby that's everywhere. Predictions of America's demise are everywhere too. At least among those who long for it.

betamax3000 said...

In the Saudi version of Gatsby Daisy is stoned to death a third of the way in.

"A thrown stone stirred the gray haze of Daisy’s fur collar."

rsb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
betamax3000 said...

"I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere stone your wife."

betamax3000 said...

"Her face, inside a spotted burka of dark blue crêpe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering."

betamax3000 said...

"They were both in black, and their burkas were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house."

rsb said...

However, the secret of American success is the willingness of its people to admit their faults and to acknowledge any shortcomings.

Bullshit.

betamax3000 said...

Re: Gatsby! He's everywhere!

He wasn't here yesterday. Missed him.

EDH said...

I'll take the American Dream over the Saudi Nightmare.

ricpic said...

From Puttin' On The Ritz to Puttin' On The Burka in less than a century.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Yeah, I hear politicians often talking about the 'American Dream'.

But think about it. It ain't 'owning your own home'. It aint 'everyone goes to college'.

What the American Dream really is - what motivated those people to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor - is to be just f-----g left alone by the government.

Have a nice day.

n.n said...

The American Dream:

The Declaration of Independence
...
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed


That's it. The American dream is not about material, physical, or ego gratification. It's not about real estate, or medical care, or Internet access, or rejecting evolutionary fitness, etc. It's certainly not about denigrating individual dignity or devaluing human life. A large minority, and perhaps a slight majority, have made the wrong choice.

As for the progressive pessimism, it derives from a resurgence of efforts to normalize involuntary exploitation and elective sacrifice of human life. This is the old order and it is gaining favor in America. The old order reveled in opportunistic and cannibalistic behavior.

David said...

Gatsby is everywhere, as are wrongheaded comments about Gatsby and the American Dream (whatever that is.)

The amount of sophomoric commentary about how Fitzgerald was exposing the hollowness of the "American Dream" is astonishing. I suppose that will get you an A- on your Gatsby paper, but it's beyond silly, especially when it's presented as a mindless quest for money.

Gatsby was not questing for money. He wanted Daisy. He wanted love. Nick Carraway is not presenting a narrative that disparages the American Dream. He makes it clear that those solid Midwestern Values are the best refuge. That's where he returns after the carnage.

If Gatsby is about any American stereotype, it's about the battle between Midwestern values vs. the corruption of the East. The smug easterners writing their term papers will never get that, nor will the Eastern wannabees who want to sound like they made it to Yale, but never did.

Nick says Gatsby was better than the rest of them put together. That's because little Jimmy Gatz from the shores of Lake Superior ( Superior--get it!) was always at his core.

And the greatest villain in Gatsby? It's Daisy Buchanan, when she lets George Wilson believe that Gatsby was at the wheel of the car that killed Myrtle, knowing that this puts Gatsby's life at great risk.

Blue@9 said...

I've noticed that "The American Dream" is usually dismissed and shat upon by those who have always lived with social and economic privilege. I don't know why these people seem to take such pleasure in denouncing it, but they do.

Larry J said...

EDH said...
I'll take the American Dream over the Saudi Nightmare.


Saudi Arabia is perhaps the world's largest open-air prison.

Methadras said...

I'm Gatsby and imz in urz Saudiz!!!

kentuckyliz said...

Betamax, I have the perfect pic for your blue burka comment.

kentuckyliz said...

Marilyn Monroe in Saudi Arabia. LOL

kentuckyliz said...

St. George, that is a very vivid description...well relayed, sir. Well done.

ampersand said...

The Saudis are already living the American dream, the South American one.

kentuckyliz said...

What is the American Dream? A decent job and a house and a chicken in the pot?

Now we are free agents, live in Mom's basement, and eat vegetarian.