Thursday, December 31, 2009

* Killing Oeddy Loman with Tweets?

Bowling alone may have been replaced by Tweeting together, Facebooking forever, and MySpacing myself.

The great Oedipal shadow of competetive isolation which has hovered over manhood in our country for more than half a century may be being defeated (or disguised) by a digital "hall of mirrors".

The American male used to be lonely: Willy Loman even said it , "I've got no one to talk to...". His "phoney dream" in Death of a Salesman is hissed over his grave by his phoney son, Happy Loman :"It's the only dream you can have: to come out number one man."

Ask Tiger.

Or now, ask Hillary.

Her recent angry response in Korea to a reporter's question ("What does President Clinton think . . .") indicates that the frenzy of becoming number one is no longer gender specific. Here is how madame Secretary replied: "My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am . . . I am not channelling my husband . . ."

Harold Bloom's great theory (all literature is Oedipal) applies here.

All capitalism is Oedipal.

The competitors (now not only the "sons" but the Hillaries of the world) are trying to overshadow whoever they perceive to be the shadow-throwing "father", the Laius they subconsciously want to kill.

To that end, the Mercantiliacs are constantly tallying their status these days: Number of Friends on Facebook (in the thousands!): Number of tweets in a day; Number of text messages in a month. These softwear solutions to loneliness are called "social networking."


Its really narcissism, consumerism and competetivism dressed in Digital Drag.

The Secretary of Education has even institutionalized this Oedipal phenomenon with his multi-billion-dollar carrot: the "race to the top". Now not only students can be lonely and self-absorbed, but institutions they inhabit can be so too.

For Mr. Duncan's information there is only one race: "the race all runners come" as A.E. Housman says in To an Athlete Dying Young and everyone finishes alone.

Everyone finishes last and Number One. There are no others in this race.

Garrison Keillor is the modern Sophocles who has outfoxed the Oedipal world of Harold Bloom, Willy Loman and the Tiger: Lake Wobegone has no competition at all: All the children are above average.


And, as any parent knows, there's a truth beyond Twitter in that statement:

The truth of the heart: the truth which beats, not races.

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