When I was a kid we laughed at the Commies: they kept their people ignorant, then claimed that some Ruskie had invented the electric light: twenty years after we unfettered Americans knew that Edison had invented it.
Credit by Convenience
But when it came to my music, we Americans were more the same than different: we’d ignore the blacks’ contribution to music, to rhythm, to harmony, to polyphony … to dance, to sexiness … to spontaneity: then wait till some pasty white bread gave a feeble imitation: then say that the feeble white bread had invented this, that, or the other. Of course we paid to see Louis Armstrong, but we didn’t credit Louis Armstrong.
Oh, we admitted that he was good: we admitted that he was very good: but the admission was grudging, the spirit was withheld.
It was like enjoying the parrot’s “speech,” but then pretending that our human child was responsible for the deliberate mastery of language. An aristocrat of Shakespeare’s day may have dismissed him as a natural, a freak, not really a poet.
But the worst illustration is how America repressed my offer of a non-vertical internet in 1970, then the US uses its perpetual hand in our pocket to finance a vertical internet, then says that the vertical workers invented the internet, as though there could be only one, as though perverting the democracy we stole from the Iroquois makes it not stealing: just daring God to prove us wrong. We’ll never be proved wrong so long as the thieves control the courts.
Almost as bad: the moron dot.comers see their vertical privilege as horizontal! just like the telephone canvas that predicted a loss for Roosevelt! Even McLuhanites don’t understand McLuhan.
Actually, I don’t trust God to be truthful in these matters either; but I have absolute confidence that the universe will prove truthful eventually. We can just lie and lie, cheat and cheat, the truth will catch us at last. We’ll have proved that cigarettes are innocent: while we have last stage cancer from cigarettes.
But we won’t know we’re wrong! We won’t know we cheated! We’ll be dead!
I used to imagine God making their loss of land up to the Cherokee, their near genocide up to the Armenians; I used to imagine Nazis of every stripe getting punished: rabbis, priests, popes. Now I don’t. Now I just imagine us all dead, all failed.