Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Cultural Borders

Bill Moyers interviews American Indian author Sherman Alexie:

10 Comments on "Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Cultural Borders"

  1. The thing is a lot of people feel a sense of alienation, in modern society. Minorities just have a readily available logical explanation as to why they happen to feel that way, whereas, say, a regular white dude, like me wouldn’t.

    A lot of people feel like outsiders and don’t exactly know why and so go in search of an identity and maybe join some affinity group and become a minority. You know, like “nerds” Transhumanists, Emo, Goth, furries, neuro-atypical, fetishists, anarchists, whatever.

    Does anyone truly feel at home in American Mainstream culture? It has to be among the most banal cultures out there, even evangelicals prefer to think of themselves as oppressed minorities. Walmart makes me want to vomit, literally. Imagine all these small towns in the midwest where the the center of the town is dominated by Walmart and other brand name chains in strip malls, surrounded by grids of subdivisions. With no exaggeration at all, the atmosphere makes me physically ill, when I pass through these areas. I like wilderness, but for the most part I need to be around some freaky people in big cities to keep my sanity. I need chaos and rebellion. I need to see graffiti and tatted up people with piercings, gay people and minorities, even criminals, in order to stay sane.

    • Well said, Ted.
      For years I thought it was just me who felt alienated all his life. Then I thought it was just the ambient vibe in SoCal. Lately, I’ve come to realize, as you suggest, that this feeling of alienation is amazingly widespread.
      It’s strange, I’ve never felt that way when living out of the country for extended periods.

    • Calypso_1 | Apr 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm |

      National Vomit in Walmart Day?

    • Reuben_the_Red | Apr 18, 2013 at 9:54 am |

      Agreed. Ours must be one of the most banal cultures out there, as Ted says, and it does more than alienate almost everyone from each other and their own sense of belonging–it also alienates us from ourselves… As Alan Watts put it, there might as well be a taboo against knowing yourself, in Western culture.

      Poets and songwriters and authors, like Sherman Alexie, who are trying to know themselves, in sharing that experience, help us to begin to recognize ourselves, from out of this maelstrom of mediocrity.

    • charlotte | Apr 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

      Ironically, i feel like an alien simply because no one i know shares an idea of what America was like before Walmart. My extended family is from the *real* “middle of nowhere” and i still have memories of a childhood spent picking wild berries and catching minnows. There was a town church that everyone belonged to and the local butcher was nearly free-range because they had never industrialized–and i’m under 30…and that side of my family is poor.

      Through bizarre circumstances i came to spend my high school years in suburbia–with the “nice” Walmart. White suburban people, especially, have no connection to any ancestral culture, whatsoever–at least the ancestral cultures of other oppressed minorities were replaced with new culture. White suburban kids aren’t making new culture, they have simply decided that corporations are their culture. I think I read this book once that was about just that…

      Anyway, we’re a dying breed too, you know–all cultures before the Monoculture are endangered.

Comments are closed.