Monday, July 26, 2010

Essay: "On Being an American." HL Mencken

Review: "Where, indeed, is there a better show in the world?"
Whether it's politics and elections or America during Prohibition, Americans are full of joy. In Germany, elections stir you up and worry you. In England elections put you to sleep. "In the United States, the thing is better done. Here it is purged of all menace, all sinister quality, all genuine significance—and stuffed with such gorgeous humor, such extravagant imbecilities, such uproarious farce that one comes to the end of it with one's midriff in tatters. But feeling better for the laugh."
Mencken sums up his view of America: "Let the 100% viewer-with-alarm stay his tears. If this is not joy, then what is?"
Mencken gives issues perspective and you almost always laugh at his point of view, even when you disagree with him.
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. 1995.

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