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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 9:10 pm 
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CarrieKY wrote:
Wow. This thread is very enlightening.

As a 10th generation American (which is incredibly long compared to most Americans) I can vouch that The American Dream was one born upon the notion of class.

To me, Las Vegas is the antithesis of the American Dream. LV is a city built on luck - where the American dream was about hard work. To my ancestors, hard work was all that was needed to achieve whatever they could dream, not what a Lord or Kaisor dictated.

Greediness? How could the US be deemed a land of greedmongers? Haven't we been there every single time a nation was in need? I have long felt we would be better served by the notion that charity begins at home.

The welfare system in the US has so very little to do with the welfare in other countries. The generations on welfare in the US have no intention of making a better life for themselves - which I feel is the true meaning of The American Dream. Work hard, save your money, buy your own spot of earth, anything is possible - that's what The American Dream means to me.

Hunter knew that...after all.

JMHO


Well said, CarrieKY. I agree completely. You've covered all bases for me. Good Call. :cool:

Hannah



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 10:00 pm 
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CarrieKY, I have to disagree with your statement that the people on welfare in the US have no intention of working hard to better themselves. My sister and I recently have been working with day laborers in our start-up business and - with no exceptions - they are struggling to work several jobs at the ridiculous minimum wage of $5.50/hr or whatever it is. Could you live and raise your family on that? Would you be willing to work two or three jobs at that wage in order to try to get a good life? I just think we really need to look more closely at the UK version of thinking about welfare - and the welfare of our country when we take care of our own who are wanting to contribute and be a part of this "great"? country.



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 10:10 pm 
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Bix wrote:
CarrieKY, I have to disagree with your statement that the people on welfare in the US have no intention of working hard to better themselves. My sister and I recently have been working with day laborers in our start-up business and - with no exceptions - they are struggling to work several jobs at the ridiculous minimum wage of $5.50/hr or whatever it is. Could you live and raise your family on that? Would you be willing to work two or three jobs at that wage in order to try to get a good life? I just think we really need to look more closely at the UK version of thinking about welfare - and the welfare of our country when we take care of our own who are wanting to contribute and be a part of this "great"? country.



A good point, that I can relate to. My disabled son was just lucky enough to find a job - at $5.50 an hour. I'm thrilled, because a job isn't all about the money you earn; it's also about self esteem. He needs a good dose of that right now.

In regard to living and raising a family on that wage? It would be mighty tough, but it CAN be done!

I'm constantly amazed at what people have decided are the necessities of life...cable TV, computers, internet, fast food...the list goes on and on..... Whoever said those things are necessary to live? You have to cook from scratch, watch local TV (if you can afford a TV!) do without...save your money...then buy those luxuries.

My folks were kids during the depression - we know the value of each dollar earned...use it up, make it last, wear it out or do without...


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:05 pm 
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I just found this in F&L in America. I knew I had read some of this before, and couldn’t remember where when the AD question came up. So here it is from the man himself. The following passages are from a letter to Jim Silberman, Random House, January 13, 1970, in an effort to get an extension on his deadline. He was detailing his problems. I couldn’t type the whole thing, but just the most relevant portions. If you have the book, it begins on page 257.

"I’m going to figure out some way to avoid coming down to this typewriter every night with the stinking idea that I’m going to tell the world about the Death of the American Dream. If I can’t shake that, we may as well call the whole thing off. It’s a terrible bummer & it won’t work. I knew it—and said it—all along, but everybody seemed to think I was kidding. But now, after two years of being hung up on that nightmare, I have to assume that it’s obvious on all fronts that I’ve screwed myself to the floor and I’m losing my :censored: mind. It’s jangled me to the point where I can’t even write articles, because every time I try one I tell myself “This will of course be part of The Book”—so I end up writing 100 page screeds that nobody will print, and the horrible fact is that I never even knew what book they were supposed to be a part of. The whole thing is a disastrous myth & I have to get out from under it before I get so twisted that I have to go back to daily sports writing. :censored: , anything would be better than this awful scene……

And, after two years of false starts and generally wasted effort, I still can’t see any way to write a book worth reading unless I can rid myself of the notion that I’m stuck with the task of explaining “the Death of the American Dream.” I just can’t get serious about writing a bad, dull book that I honestly feel is going to be a bummer in every way……

I could focus almost entirely on the fictional narrative aspect of the book & downgrade the journalism to the level of background—using scenes like Chicago and Nixon’s Inauguration as a framework for the trials and tribulations of my protagonist, Raoul Duke. This is the approach I like best, but it’s also the one that’s least realized at this point. I haven’t been able, so far, to make Duke a human being; he hasn’t come to life—not even for me. So the narrative still looks like a phony gimmick to string a bunch of articles together. Another problem with this approach is that the American Dream millstone keeps intruding & it strikes a false note. It addles the dialogue and forces me to keep backing off and pontificating. (which recalls for some reason that Fitzgerald wanted to call his book about Gatsby “The Death of the Red White and Blue.” FYI)….

Duke gives me a lot of options on the journalism front, but he also presents a hell of a problem with the narrative. Once I bring him in, I have to keep him there, even when I don’t need him. And I have to make him real. The original idea was to use Duke, like Gatsby, to illustrate that Death of the American Dream theme—but that’s a horror when you start with the theme and work back to the character. It may work the other way, but I can’t be sure until I see the character…and so far his symbolic value keeps queering his reality. On the other hand, his value as a sort of “cover” & safety valve solves many of the problems I have with the straight journalist approach. I can insist that everything he says and does is true, but I can also refuse to identify him for obvious legal reasons."



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:28 pm 
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I think this might be the most elusive and thought provoking question yet…. I had to reread the passage and all of your posts.

I think the American Dream Hunter found in Circus Circus a separate reality, an altered state, where you can live in blissful ignorance of the world. If in reality, no man is an island—the American Dream Hunter found was the secret desire for every man to become one. Life is so messy. I think that’s how he saw Amercia being reshaped, as a country that had lost it’s perspective by moving deeper and deeper into a separate reality apart from the world—xenophobic.



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:42 pm 
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dharma_bum wrote:
I think this might be the most elusive and thought provoking question yet…. I had to reread the passage and all of your posts.

I think the American Dream Hunter found in Circus Circus a separate reality, an altered state, where you can live in blissful ignorance of the world. If in reality, no man is an island—the American Dream Hunter found was the secret desire for every man to become one. Life is so messy. I think that’s how he saw Amercia being reshaped, as a country that had lost it’s perspective by moving deeper and deeper into a separate reality apart from the world—xenophobic.


Ok...I'll bite. :slick:

America has always been apart from the rest of the world. Our ancestors came here (Hunter's too!) for a reason. Religious freedom, freedom from persecution of class, or just simply freedom. They all shared a dream - freedom to become what they dreamed.

Granted, the dream has become tarnished, twisted and even a little dirty at times, but it still exists...and it did in LV in 1971. You just had to look really hard to find it. Hunter was looking, but in my opinion, in all the wrong places.....

Nixon and his army of idiots were indeed troublesome, but we overcame him, and Vietnam eventually. I am still ashamed that we ever went to Vietnam. Hunter, too, was ashamed in 1971. It wasn't a pretty time! The death of The American Dream seemed imminent....

Personally, I don't think it died...I guess I'm just an optimist at heart.

I do believe when the history of the current generation is written - Iraq will be the Vietnam of this generation...George W is frighteningly akin to Nixon...IMHO.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 12:22 am 
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CarrieKY wrote:
Granted, the dream has become tarnished, twisted and even a little dirty at times, but it still exists...and it did in LV in 1971. You just had to look really hard to find it. Hunter was looking, but in my opinion, in all the wrong places.....

Nixon and his army of idiots were indeed troublesome, but we overcame him, and Vietnam eventually. I am still ashamed that we ever went to Vietnam. Hunter, too, was ashamed in 1971. It wasn't a pretty time! The death of The American Dream seemed imminent....

Personally, I don't think it died...I guess I'm just an optimist at heart.


I so agree... I do think FALILV is a journey of self-fulfilling prophecy. HST believed that the apocalypse (of the American Dream) was upon us and went to a place where he was sure to find it all of the signs to support its eminent approach.

Personally, I don’t think HST thought the American Dream had died completely … I don’t think he could have written the wave speech if he really believed that, there is too much naked emotion and ache in every word. I think that Hunter was deeply moved by the ideals this country is built on wanted to see us rise again… and that by crying fire in a crowded theater, he might just shake people out of their complacency.



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 12:35 am 
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dharma_bum wrote:

Personally, I don’t think HST thought the American Dream had died completely … .


Do you think that's why he was having such a hard time with the premise of it being "The Death of the American Dream"?



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:05 am 
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Liz wrote:
dharma_bum wrote:

Personally, I don’t think HST thought the American Dream had died completely … .


Do you think that's why he was having such a hard time with the premise of it being "The Death of the American Dream"?


He did seem to have trouble producing the corpse, didn't he?



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:22 am 
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I don't see it as a question of whether it is still around or not, "the death of it", I intereperated "the death of it" as in the failure of it. I don't think the American Dream is dead, I think it is alive and kicking. But I think it is only that, A DREAM.
I cannot help see horrible downsides to this dream that drives America. Hard work = money. Which I do not think it always true. I see it as translating into a dream of money. And capatalism and private enterprise I find scary. The fact that money can be made from services that the population relies on for basic living. And that the country is not always formed and built in the interests of the people, but rather the interests of private enterprises. I think that is wrong. I think that hard work and belief of opportunity for all is good, but hat I mentioned above is what I see as the faults of the American Dream, or what I think HST saw as the failure of the AD(perhaps).
I know this is more than true especially for L.A. I studied it in depth in Geography. Like the economic restructuring of manufacturing offshore, becasue it is cheaper becasue of less regulations, and that lost 200,000 jobs, no compensation. And in LA in particular there are(or were) no/little trade unions becasue of the strong belief in private enterprise. This resulting in bad working conditions.
However I have not lived in LA so I do not know exactly.
I hope my comments were useful. This is really a great disscussion!!



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 8:57 am 
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Sands wrote:
I'm really not sure how our population statistics compare with yours actually DITHOT. Maybe someone can enlighten us?


Sands, if you want the statistics, the CIA factbook (!) is the most up to date. Choose a country from the drop down, and then choose people to get level of minority groups, birth rate and so on. I use this a lot in school.



A little thought on the AD, though. It still happens. Think about a man we know who came from a working class background, had an unsettled childhood, dropped out of school early, succession of dead end jobs, took the best chance when it came, worked hard, didn't compromise.... you get the picture. I wonder what his views on the AD would be?

Link to factbook:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 10:31 am 
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Endora wrote: A little thought on the AD, though. It still happens. Think about a man we know who came from a working class background, had an unsettled childhood, dropped out of school early, succession of dead end jobs, took the best chance when it came, worked hard, didn't compromise.... you get the picture. I wonder what his views on the AD would be?


Good point, Endora and wouldn't we just love to be able to ask him the question!

I think the origins of the American Dream are rooted in immigration and escaping persecution, deeply rooted class structure, and poverty. It was a chance to start over and back in the 1800's and 1900's when America was a booming and growing country, those dreams were wide open. I don't know if it carries the same possibilities now and perhaps the definition has changed and become more self-serving and greedy and certainly more difficult to attain. It may be time to change the definition to fit current realities but I don't think it is entirely dead.



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 12:01 pm 
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Endora wrote:
A little thought on the AD, though. It still happens. Think about a man we know who came from a working class background, had an unsettled childhood, dropped out of school early, succession of dead end jobs, took the best chance when it came, worked hard, didn't compromise.... you get the picture. I wonder what his views on the AD would be?


So true, Endora. And I think we are all attracted to what we see as Johnny finding the American Dream because it is our dream--to be able to reach the American Dream, all the while retaining your integrity and your individuality. I shouldn't speak for everyone else. This is one of the ways in which he inspires me.



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 12:13 pm 
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Liz wrote:
Endora wrote:
A little thought on the AD, though. It still happens. Think about a man we know who came from a working class background, had an unsettled childhood, dropped out of school early, succession of dead end jobs, took the best chance when it came, worked hard, didn't compromise.... you get the picture. I wonder what his views on the AD would be?


So true, Endora. And I think we are all attracted to what we see as Johnny finding the American Dream because it is our dream--to be able to reach the American Dream, all the while retaining your integrity and your individuality. I shouldn't speak for everyone else. This is one of the ways in which he inspires me.


Me too, Liz. Perhaps that's the hopefulness I've been not seeing in the book, as mentioned on another recent question.



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 1:05 pm 
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Interesting direction one and all… I like what SAR said “failure,” a better and more subtle word than death.

I think the failure in the AD that HST saw was that too often when individuals reinvented themselves and realized the Dream and personal prosperity it became a protective bubble to shield them from the harsh realities of life. I think he saw wealth as disconnecting people and relieving them of their responsibilities as citizens to do good, look beyond themselves from give back to a country and belief system that had rewarded them. HST saw the emptiness of middle class prosperity that brought people to this obscene oasis in the desert to throw their money away when there was poverty, ignorance and injustice all around them. The 60s ideals were about looking beyond your world and making the WORLD a better place. I think that there were fatal flaws in a literal interpretation of “giving back” and “doing good” and that was also something HST was having a hard time reconciling.



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