—"Old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
Douglas MacArthur


I find that I am increasingly sensitive to the influence of aesthetic sensibilities. I see the power of personal taste everywhere.

The subject of patriotism (a popular topic lately) offers a good example.

What exactly does it mean to be a patriot?

Examined closely, it is all too easily recognized as nothing but a matter of personal taste—and nothing more.

A patriot simply likes his country.

There are no reasons he likes it, any more than there are reasons that he likes sex or apple pie.

Aesthetic sensibilities run deep, to the level of the primal. The closer we look, the fewer reasons (in the sense of a rationale) we find. There are no reasons that the United States is a rich country, other than the fact that its people (at least some of them) have a taste for wealth (exorbitant wealth).

And what, after all, is wealth, but resources?

The United States is wealthy because of its access to abundant resources, appropriated (we must never forget) from its previous residents, who did not have the same taste for so egregiously amassing (and hording) wealth as its current tenants.

The present demographic of the United States is clearly distinct from its prior (much more primitive) demographic in terms of what it likes, what it prefers, its aesthetic sensibilities.

There is nothing right or wrong with being a patriot of any country, although, to be sure, the patriots of said countries would most likely disagree (quite often vehemently).

As the saying has it, there is no accounting for taste.

Speaking for myself, I do not particulary like the United States, but considering my overall aesthetic inclination, that means very little, because I honestly do not believe that I would like any country.

I am increasingly dismayed (if not virtually annoyed) by the very idea of nation-states. I truly believe it is time for them all to follow the lead of the proverbial old soldier, to simply fade away.

And patriotism should fade with it.

March 11, 2007



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