Cairo Reflection: Alien(ation)

There are no second chances in the American life, F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, but he was, as Hemingway noted that Fitzgerald was an idiot. A beautiful romantic idiot. Against a cool fall night, cars honking in front a prison abnormally undusty air—a marriage has happened and the dowry paid, and couple is being moved in.  My life does not feel particularly American and I have second and third whole lives before 35.  Fitzgerald as indeed an idiot.

I have been somewhat quietistic as my recent political rant indicates: I am disgusted by trends by both liberals and conservatives in America.  That isn’t new, but the level my disgust is so bad that I dread the idea of returning home to my country of birth and citizenship. In the long run, if my partner heals from her cancer, I may need to return home. This feels alien to me.  I have been gone so long that I can predict the patterns of my country better than many people who are in it, but it’s emotionally an alien landscape.

In this not quite unAmerican life, I have little to offer Americans politically.  I fear for them and resent them. I watch their virtue signaling, the paranoia, their hopes and dreams on the electronic waves as I talk to partner struggling through the utter boredom of fighting cancer, I watch Egyptians struggle to deal with a declining currency, sugar shortages, and no tourism industry.  Conspiracies everywhere because people know what is wrong and have no exact way to conceptualize why.  I used to go to abstractions around Marxism for this, and in a way, still do see the world structurally like this, but I also am a poet and I don’t think that is the right to view things either.

I will be glad when this election is over so I can go back to disliking people for bad taste or simple indecency instead of abysmal political apologetics. Yet, I don’t think my alienation is just politics or not having the right sect to join or merely the liberation from everyday life.

The problem with rootless cosmopolitanism is that one eventually has roots, but spread out over continents, strained by time and conflicting commitments, but tastes of ways of life that are different but won’t even be compatible even if we try to live life as some kind of post-liberal salad bowl. We still have to agree to exist in the same bowl and often it is the bowl that is the point of debate.

So as I political blogger, I could rant about the criminality in this election, the declining sense of civic cohesion, throwing the working class under the bus, the way geopolitics is more complicated with no clear moral actors at hand. I could do that, but part me feels like there isn’t a lot of point to it. My continued ranting is more about maintaining a sense of my moral universe as I feel like a stranger in my own country:  mourning being a stranger in one’s own country is part of the right consciousness often and feeling like an outsider among outsiders is often part of the left or liberal one. I feel both, and belong to neither temperamentally right now.  Is this another chance to change?  To transform? To transmogrify?  Or is it resignation. It’s too early for me to tell, but I have poems to write.  It is a second chance though. For me anyway. 


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