New Americana: A Love Letter to America

by TylerJ

We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, [and] old tires
, Nabokov

New Americana is a blog about America and why we can’t help loving it. Here you will find a digital travelogue of trinkets and souvenirs that  add up to a country that is lovely, trustful, dreamy, and enormous. The objects that will appear on this blog are special because they reflect both a personal and a collective nostalgia. To use Nabokov’s example from the quote above: a dog-eared map is an item of personal nostalgia for Humbert Humbert, but it also an item of collective nostalgia for the rest of us because it represents that quintessential American experience, the road-trip. To be an American is to participate in that collective nostalgia.

At this point you might be wondering why I decided to title this blog “New Americana.” My sense is that a “new Americana” is necessary because many of the traditional objects of Americana (apple pie, the statue of liberty, baseball, etc) have been flattened into objects of patriotism. The crucial difference being that patriotism requires no participation: you’re either patriotic or you’re not. Somewhere along the way Americana became synonymous with this sort of flag-waving. If you’re looking for flag-waving, look elsewhere.

Through a combination of long-form essays, photos, videos, and other varieties of media, I hope to reestablish the distinction between patriotism and Americana and show that the key difference is participation. Put simply: Why go to Tea Party rallies when you can eat cheeseburgers and chop wood?

With luck, this will be fun.