Amnesiascope

L.A. is all that’s left of America the Delirious. Long ago, in the movie theaters of the land, L.A. collectivized the American dark; it cleaned up the depraved whispers and messier impulses of America’s deeper recesses and reduced them to archetypes or, even better, commodities. L.A. insisted that the subconscious didn’t own us but we owned it; a more American aspiration is hard to imagine. Now east of L.A. rolls America the Mean. The thin membrane between the delirious and the mean, between L.A. and the rest of the country, is an America of the mind that will explode any moment, if it has any life left in it at all, or will expire with a hush, if we should be so lucky. Beyond L.A. is the new America that got sick of being America, and of its own sentimental promise; for years you could feel every passion slipping away except rage, you could hear every conversation about the meaning of America framed by the decadent on the one hand and the repressed on the other who shared the same common belief that sensuality was meaningless beyond mere sensation or sheer procreation. This was the new America that came to feel more beset by freedom than invigorated by it, that was ready to hand everything over to anyone who would just fucking take charge. Now in L.A., street by street, block by block, step by step, door by door, all that’s left of the old America is under siege. l catch sight of it from time to time: a fleeting glimpse at the top of the stairs, or outside rustling in the bushes. This is the old America of legend and distant memory, that invested no faith in the wisdom of history and no hope in the sham of the future, the old America that invented itself all over from the ground up every single day. It is the brazen America, the reckless one, the one with the lit fuse, the America that ejaculates not by habit but for the intoxicating pleasure of it, the America where no precaution is sufficient and nothing will protect you, no passport or traveling papers, no opportune crucifix or gas soaked torch, no sunglasses or decoder box or cyanide capsule, no ejector seat or live wire or secret identity or reconstructed tissues or unmarked grave or faked death. It’s the America that was originally made for those who believed in nothing else, not because they believed there was nothing else but because for them, without America, nothing else was worth believing.

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