Thursday, February 19, 2009

“We Dream Only of America,” First Installment

This just in from Lucy Tucker, aging exile in Holland:
Behold My Swarthy Face,

Thought you might be interested in this 1983 documentary by Joel Sucher and Steven Fischler called Anarchism in America. (Btw, this letter will be the first in a series to you called “We Dream Only of America.”) Years of exile and wandering have only deepened my love for the vanishing America of my youth, and now, lumbering toward old age, I weep for America.

The film’s central thesis is that America’s “essence”— if it can be called that— is revealed in the “instinctual anarchism in the American people [which] goes back to the Jeffersonian tradition.” Specifically, this anarchic spirit is characterized by a general distrust toward a) all forms of centralization and b) all forms of obligatory collectivism.

The film is studded with stars from anarchist history, from early trailblazers Emma Goldman and Benjamin Tucker to the more recent Goldwater-speechwriter-turned-anarchist Karl Hess, Russian-Jewish émigré and anarchist Mollie Steimer, political philosopher and Ron-Jeremy-lookalike Murray Bookchin, poets Kenneth Rexroth and Philip Levine, and an old lady anarchist from Nebraska whose manner of speech reminded me of your late grandmother from Omaha, Shirley Nesmith, who, incidentally, was also an active anarchist. Oh, and the Dead Kennedys even show up for a brief gig and interview.

Lucy Tucker, aging exile in Holland


Anonymous said...

You're right! That lady looks and sounds just like Nanna!


Anonymous said...

Excellent documentary. I saw it years ago, but it was even better this time around. Thanks for posting.


Anonymous said...

This film neatly sums up all that is good about America. I thank you for posting.

-Hisae Yoshikawa

Ian Truthgarth said...

This blog rings true as false and boring.

Bop Secrets said...

Kenneth Rexroth essays newly added to the BPS website:

"Science and Civilization in China"

"Matteo Ricci's China Journals"

"Sung Dynasty Culture"

"The Tao of Painting"

"Japanese Literature"

"The World of Genji"

"Japanese Noh Plays"

"Far Eastern Poetry in a General Education"

* * *

Related Rexroth essays at the same website:

"The Chinese Classic Novel"

"Lafcadio Hearn and Japanese Buddhism"

"Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching"

"Tu Fu's Poems"

"Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji"

"The Dream of the Red Chamber"

"The Bhagavad-Gita"

Rexroth's Translations of Chinese Poetry

Rexroth's Translations of Japanese Poetry

Messages such as this are sent out every month or two announcing the latest
additions to the BPS website. If you do not wish to receive such
announcements, please reply to this message with "No Thanks" in the
Subject line.

P.O. Box 1044, Berkeley CA 94701, USA

"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."