I was just listening to him on my way into work this morning, and here he's a political commentator now:
Brian Eno has written an op-ed piece in Time entitled The U.S. Needs to Open Up to the World where he laments (probably in vain) that the United States is on a slow decent from a brave, vigorous nation to a bureaucratic paranoid empire.
Surely this isn't the America that anyone dreamed of; it's a last resort, nobody's choice. It's especially ironic since so much of the best new thinking about society, economics, politics and philosophy in the last century came from America. Unhampered by the snobbery and exclusivity of much European thought, American thinkers vaulted forward -- courageous, innovative and determined to talk in a public language. But, unfortunately, over the same period, the mass media vaulted backward, thriving on increasingly simple stories and trivializing news into something indistinguishable from entertainment. As a result, a wealth of original and subtle thought -- America's real wealth -- is squandered.It's a shame; I believe he's right, and I'm not clear that it is a trend that can be countered short of some sort of tremendous social crisis (which may or may not be building) that would force the American Giant to reawake.
I'm talking there about the Giant that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto saw after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That was the last time the giant awoke and for a while, at least to hear the oldsters tell it, the U.S was a shining beacon of democracy and freedom.
For about 6 years.
Then the communist spectre loomed, and the cold war began. For a while there was a see-saw of liberty and paranoia... McCarthyism then Civil Rights, etc. I'm not sure how it really all went down, but essentially parts of our society were "progressing" (that's my classic liberal bias of course) while others were growing more insular and paranoid.
Anyway, as far as I can tell the giant was completely asleep by 1970. I think maybe it took a few too many 'ludes in the summer of '69, or maybe it was just bored to tears by idealistic hippie rhetoric. Nevertheless, as far as I can tell the American Giant has been asleep since then, maybe even before.
Despite earnest nationalistic sentiments to the contrary, the giant is not awake again either. And if there is a giant that's awake, I'm afraid that it is a very different giant...one that does not measure force against diplomacy, but only weighs if it can live with the consequences of the force it uses.
I'm starting to rant and get off the topic, but I don't really care. We don't need to stop. We need to wake up. The United States that is. We need to wake up. We are the sleeping giant, and we must wake up because our castle in the clouds is on fire.