I feel part of this, and then I dont. We were all included: jews, muslims, hindus, christians, ‘and non-believers’ (Obama 20.1.09). Though the phrasing parsed this as something of a an afterthought or hanging clause, it was about time an American president made a space for me, for I am a ‘non believer’. (On the same day of the speech I had used the phrase ‘god-botherers’ on a college website, but this was deemed unsuitable and edited. Ah well, at least I did not go for the term ‘bible-bashers’ – though I’d point out that neither phrase is disrespectful of ‘god’, but rather of bibles and prattlers. He who who don’t exist don’t get offended, only the fools who think he does, do [forgive my grammars & tresspass against us!]). Anyway, as tolerant freedom loving people [pah, relativists!] we have to consider things from a non-believers point of view: just as we would endorse any other ‘denomonational’ conviction or set of axioms.
So, to move this on past the rhetorical lists of inclusions, I turn to the question of nostalgia and look for explanations/speculation. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me 44’s articulation of hope is a repackaging of pretty old dreams (King, Kennedy, Camalot … Lincoln, Gettysburg, Khe Sanh [!!! sheesh]). All this seems to return to the fable of a lost America, an America that still had unquestioned superpower status, a 50’s or 60’s America perhaps – yet all the while this nostalgia looks back at the past it does several things. It manages to be at the same time contrived, knowing, nostalgic and a forward march. This is somehow endearing, and productive in a weird, contentless way. I see it as something like Admiral Adama’s speeches in TV’s “Battlestar Galactica” (“lets find ‘earth'”) or how things turn out in Celebrity Dance shows where anyone who works hard and has poise, good looks and a very fine outfit can succeed (or be judged at least 2nd or 3rd runner up. Even Hillary gets a job – yay!). Sure, the fantasy of hope as tricked up nostalgia still inspires people to feel confident, capable and constituted – but it is also fragile. It relies on old glories (we saw such a lot of that old say can you see…) and it relies upon ‘resoluteness’, on ‘fortitude’ and ‘tenacity’. This sets up, for the mass of people who adopt its outlook, a dependence upon a precarious ‘confidence’ which, in its pernicious effect and whims, permeates the market from the stock exchange to the high street small business, and reaches even so far as to the countenance of people waiting for a bus. I swear Londoners today seemed less disgruntled… but still the market drops like a stone. The double play is underway, and its unclear which way the crumble is cooking… I’m still a non-believer.