America and Cosmic Man by Wyndham Lewis

America and Cosmic Man by Wyndham Lewis

By Wyndham Lewis

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Consequently it is unable to confer so abstract a national status as Rome, or as nineteenth- century Britain, which aimed at being universal systems. American universality is of a different kind. The universe comes to it, and is gathered into it, instead of America going out to absorb other species. Itself a conglomerate of many na­tions, there is no metropolitan race as such. So it does not merely hand you something like a luggage label, but, rather, an authentic soul. Naturally, if you have got a soul already, you do not need this.

On the one hand they wrestle reverently with a reactionary Constitution, they darkly hide away their hoarded gold underground, and aggressively practice an antiquated economy. That State structure and that fairy gold are the campfire alluded to above. To place against that, their techniques race ahead, leaping the centuries into the future. Further than that, they are, it seems to me, dedicated to the future more than any other people: and it is my argument in this book that we can read our own future by an imaginative scrutiny of what is occurring, and what is so plainly destined to occur there in America.

A group of chapters which now follow are concerned with the kind of State-religion which underlies everywhere the noisy pagan crust of American life. It is the crude emotional makeshift, provided by American nationalism, attempting to rise to the occasion, but with no understanding of what the occasion is: namely, the birth-throes of a new type of society. The core, as it were, of this group of chapters is a study of three great figures in the State-religion. I do not take them " chronologically, but start with that fascinating political con­juror, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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