Before heading to New York for my first U.S. visit since relocating here, Andrew and I spent a few days in London while he was at a business conference. Given the 4 pound ($8!) price for riding the underground, we stuck close to our hotel location, near Westminster and Chelsea. Granted, this may have given me a somewhat skewed perspective of the city. Nevertheless, my general impression was that London was a lot like New York City, only without the neurosis.
New York can be an intimidating place; with all those smart, rich, beautiful people, the bar is set pretty high. However, these power people are permitted the aid of a psychotherapist in managing all their greatness. In fact, neurotic behavior is worn as a badge of honor (temper tantrums, absentmindedness, mental lapses: they're all seen as characteristics of the privileged), a kind of vehicle for creativity and high performance.
London, however, is in England and the English are not allowed such indiscretions as emotional outbursts or demonstrative behavior. Everything is accomplished seemingly without effort, and certainly not through some messy, stumbling, creative process. Reserved and detached, but near perfection... See the art of Millais which I saw here at the Tate.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I enjoy thinking about language and how it's used. It's even more interesting now that I am here, because I can compare and contrast the English and American variations. I've been toying with a few theories, and one of them I present here: in expressing activities, the English tend to use nouns, or object words while the Americans use verbs, or action words. A few examples:
- Activity: English expression: American expression
- sleeping late: have a lie in: sleep in
- try something: have a go: go for it
- consider something: have a think: think about
- forgo something: give it a miss: skip it
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
This past weekend, Andrew and I went to the Cornerhouse, a great multi-media space in Manchester, to see the documentary film, In the Shadow of the Moon. The movie uses past TV and film footage, along with present day interviews, to follow the history of the NASA Apollo Space Program. At one point, after the completion of Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing, we saw news clippings of people from around the world cheering, jubilant at how "we" - humankind collectively - had successfully walked on the moon. At that moment I thought, how wonderful it would be if the U.S. could be a unifying force in the world, a place that connected everyone. After all, it does feel like everyone around the globe has someone, a relative or friend, who lives in, or has passed through the States. What if the U.S. was a scientific and intellectual hub, where people came to study, learn and share, and sometimes ended up staying? What if being an American also meant being knowledgeable about the whole world, understanding its politics and ecology, speaking its language. I thought about the United States as a conduit - of good - for the world. Can we go there?