J.E. Dyer wrote:
I’m not sure American culture puts up the irony necessary to well-crafted tragedy.
Well - we may be witnessing an American Icarus-like tragedy before all our eyes every day - and still in the early chapters. Fingers crossed it's just a farcical episode, or maybe slightly better or not too much worse.
We were supposed to be protected by our own reflexive cynicism and pragmatism against the likes of Barack Obama. He was the kind of guy we were supposed to applaud for a little while before getting on to more grown-up stuff.
People will say that the financial crisis gave him the last boost just when perhaps we were on the verge of saving ourselves, but the future poet ought to be able to depict the financial crisis as the outward manifestation of a deeper and more pervasive infantilization of American culture.
As for irony, if things go badly enough, Rex enough, maybe BO also would come to represent a stage in the attainment of cultural irony, the next step above the culture of snark and so-called "corporate irony," and an adornment for a more or less extended epoch of decline and dissipation.
I strongly prefer the original version. In fact, I probably prefer the versions two or three drafts prior to the ones you posted in the comments. I may even prefer the versions that you were thinking about before you actually began writing.
@ Rex Caruthers:
Thank you - your MOBY DICK analysis was on the tip of my brain.
I wasn't suggesting LONG DAY'S JOURNEY... had been re-conceived as a miniseries. I was suggesting that maybe someone somewhere had already written THE American Epic in a typically American, effectively American-originated form.
I was thinking more about epic when you referred to an Ameriad or Ameresteia, since I identify epic as being the story of a people or nation, and your idea suggests a story of America.
I don't know that it serves us to be too classical about different genres or media. If Homer were alive today, maybe he'd be a blogger...
There've been explicit attempts at epic tellings of the American story in film: BIRTH OF A NATION and HOW THE WEST WAS WON come to mind. Not very satisfactory. I think the scholarly understanding of what an epic is may have changed or maybe I was using the term too loosely - Homer's ILIAD might be better understood as part of a much larger, multi-author epic or epic tradition.
@ Rex Caruthers:
May already have been written - possibly in turnaround - as a miniseries teleplay. Presuming you don't accept MOBY DICK, which still gets my vote. Weren't we talking about it a month or so ago? Was it you who had the peculiar theory about it?