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26 August 2008

The American Wanderer, in All His Stripes I absolutely loved this piece in last Sunday's times by Michael Powell. I would quote the entire piece, but here's a taste:

“Unrootedness is, and always has been, part and parcel of being American,” Arnold Rampersad, a professor at Stanford University and biographer of Ralph Ellison and Hughes, said in an e-mail message. “It is the flip side of perhaps the defining aspect of Americanness, the capacity of its citizens to reinvent themselves.”
PS If anyone has any suggestions for further reading on these themes, please let me know!
posted by Claudia_SF 26 August | 22:50
I think it may be misguided to suggest that the quality of which he speaks is uniquely American. That whole "this story could only happen in America" thing wears a bit thin.
posted by loiseau 27 August | 05:11
I dunno, I have wandered all over Canada in my time, and I am pretty sure that's a tougher road to wander. With one tenth of the population, it's a long way between hobo signs and pies to steal.

My suspicion is that the wandering spirit is in many of us, wherever we originate. For others, like the stereotypical army brat, or child of a diplomat, etc, wandering is thrust upon us. We moved a lot until I was 13. To this day, I feel rootless and the house that Jen and I have owned for 9 years doesn't really feel like what I imagine "home" should feel. Nowhere does.
posted by richat 27 August | 06:52
Right, maybe I quoted the wrong bit -- what I liked about the article was our split views on rootlessness. That rootlessness if very much American or Canadian or whatever. And at the same time that rootlessness is suspect. Anyhoo --
posted by Claudia_SF 27 August | 10:19
I ain't never settlin' down.

posted by mdonley 27 August | 18:17
In 2002 the University of Bologna hosted a conference on this very subject. I like the idea of a whole bunch of people gathering in Bologna to talk about peripatetic Americans.

Here's something you might like to read: Google's html version of the pdf of a paper from that conference that cites a whole lot of music you probably know and love.
posted by tangerine 27 August | 23:28
I need to laugh sometimes || Car quirks.