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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/27/15

An American in Brighton

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In the States, Dan worked as a furniture mover, line cook, waiter, bartender, bag boy, copyeditor, secretary, bank clerk, whitewater guide, lumber yard grunt, assistant manager in a Ralph Nader organization's office, magazine room attendant at a library, childcare worker in a shelter for teenagers and bell hop.

Dan received a bachelor's degree in political science from Temple University. He taught himself Spanish and is reasonably fluent. He can get by in Korean. Once a week, a Spanish woman comes by to teach Dan's kids Spanish for an hour and, in exchange, gets an hour of English lesson from Rachel. Before five years old, a child shouldn't be exposed to any image or even mention of violence or death, Dan believes, and no one of any age should be lured into the adulation of absolute power, so no fairy tales involving kings, queens, princes or princesses for Ralph and Freddy.

Dan, "I'm against all forms of authoritarianism. I have many strong ideas about how to try to bring children up in this nightmarish world. First, give them all your love, AND ATTENTION. Next, try to learn from them: they're not screwed up (like you) yet, at least little babies aren't. Try to get back on their wavelength, then RIDE IT. Have no preconceptions, e.g. that boys shouldn't wear dresses or especially that they should be doing this or that at any given time. In short, it's best to be an open-minded, free-thinking, creative, loving philosopher. And, of course, don't let them watch TV."

Strolling through the car-free lanes of downtown Brighton, we noticed many images of skulls and skeletons in shop windows. "They're everywhere," Dan scowled. "It's a death worshipping culture."

"But it's death glamorized. These skulls are made to look cool."

"Here's a skull cracked in half, a half-eaten skull. That's cool!"

"And look at these games. Almost all of them feature zombies!"

"I worry about my boys, what they will be exposed to."

"Even this sign has a skull, and this one, too!"

"Like I said, man, it's a death worshipping culture. Being here, I can see what makes up America. Much of it came from here. On bad days, I sometimes think these are the most vicious people on earth. They don't just want to see you die, they want to kill you themselves!"

"Oh come on, man! I think the English are lovely. They do say lovely a lot."

"I used to be charmed by them too."

Nine years earlier in Diss, I visited the church where John Skelton had been a rector. In Ipswich, I chanced upon John Clare's snuff box, displayed in a glass case. "I am--yet what I am none cares or knows." Though he may be a black, keffiyeh or turban headed bastard, each English speaker is a child of England. It is remarkable, the hegemony of the Anglosphere. It has gone on for so long, many people consider it natural or even eternal, but it is certainly winding down. We've reached peak English.

Last week, a Malaysian newspaper wanted my take on the relative obscurity of Asian literatures. I opined, "International authors crave recognition in the English language, because that is seen as dominant. They want to be read by Americans and praised by American and British critics. They also want to be translated into the main European languages. Given the dominant position of the West in contemporary culture, this is understandable, but I think it's time Asia started to pay more attention to itself, without caring too much about what white readers and critics thought. The Asian countries should translate and
read each other."

The sweetest part of my Brighton visit was simply goofing around with Ralph and Freddy. Well loved, they were joyous and loving, like all kids should be. In modern societies, too many children are raised and indoctrinated en masse, practically straight out of the womb, by indifferent strangers, and the tremendous harms from this neglect and abuse regiment have been ignored by nearly all.

Another pleasure was eating Rachel's food. She is a sublime cook. "It's like having a gourmet meal three times a day," Dan admitted. One morning, we had a breakfast of egg, black pudding, cheese covered hash browns, creamed spinach and pancakes with fresh, just picked blueberries. Another night, though, we opted for some take out fish and chips.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.

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