On the improvised trail into the woods behind the railroad tracks, you find sheets of abandoned homework from the beginning of summer.
They are teaching little kids about revolution.
Downtown, dudes are carrying long rifles into Starbucks, talking about the tree of liberty and its scarlet fertilizer. The NRA tells them stop, you are embarrassing us. Scaring the visitors.
Thomas Jefferson’s hair is made of fire.
You have seen four movies in the past year in which they blow up the White House. The putative villains vary—North Koreans, crazy ex-soldiers, angry mutants, power mad shapeshifters. The viscous orange fireballs blossoming out from behind the neoclassical pillars get bigger every time. You wonder why no one seems to question the proliferation of this thread in popular cinema. It is one of the principal set pieces of the Zeitgeist.
How long ago was that when the Occupy protesters had their local staging area across the street, in the junkyard behind the old neon plant? Some days you wonder if that really happened. Maybe it was just a way to sell T-shirts and movie tickets.
Uncle Sam is really just the Yankee Peddler.
Your news feed scrolls more stories about right wing nutjobs seizing territory.
One of the first things they teach you about the founding documents in law school is that the Declaration of Independence doesn’t count. Call it Macaroni.
On screen, Channing Tatum is in pain, and the imaginary Secret Service agents fall like Sam Peckinpah castaways.
All week you read about the constitutional edicts handed down by the nine black robes, before they slip away in their chauffeured sedans for summer vacation. Divining the intent of the white guys who made up the rules 225 years ago is tiring work. There is no buffer zone for you.
You wonder why there are so many movies about taking over the White House, and so few about 1776. You wonder if maybe they are part of the same memetic thread.
Twenty years now you have been watching network culture destabilize the monolithic power structures of the old economy. You wonder how long it will be before it starts to destabilize the old political economy.
Is a constitutional republic in which 545 people rule instead of one the historical endpoint of democracy? As you watch your nation go crazy, you wonder if that’s the gestation pain of growing something new inside. Something more authentically participatory, that looks like the future.
Outside, you hear the explosions, but you know they are only pretending. Ritual revolution is the American communion.
On the movie poster, Gerard Butler stares at the ruined White House like Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. The action figure is trying to figure out what to do.
The narrative broke a long time ago. You look at the empty build plate, and wonder what’s trying to assemble.