Friday, July 20, 2007

Hither Expanse of Excessively Bitumenated Steppeland

I arrived in Texas about two months ago after a sixteen-month sojourn in deepest darkest California, and the change has certainly been dramatic. Certainly the cultural, climatic, and geographic differences between coastal California and west central Texas are about as extreme as between any two parts of this great, diverse land of ours. My thoughts on Texas life (and flashbacks to California life) are likely to feature prominently on this blog.

It has struck me (and this may be a certain North Flyover Country bias at work) that the generic 'American' so reviled by anti-Americans in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere is in many ways a conglomeration of the worst features of California and Texas. Every purportedly negative aspect of the American public -- its overt religiosity, obesity, sexual immorality, conspicuous consumerism, and tendency toward violence -- is exemplified in these two states. This is not meant as an indictment, by the way, merely an observation. It is only natural that a nation's most populous regions should be particularly influential on its perception abroad. It does make one wish to impress upon foreigners, however, that most of America is a rather different place from California and Texas.


Cheryl said...

Hi Evan. I'm a friend of your sister who has benefited from her lending out of your books. I also have a son named Evan (he's 3). Having been born and reared in Texas (I now live in Illinois), I am saddened by your comments about my home state. Maybe you just haven't been to the right part of Texas yet! Didn't you say it's only been a couple of months?

I'll keep checking in to see if you've had some positive experiences to temper your current negative perceptions!

Evan said...

Oh, please don't misunderstand, I'm loving Texas! I'm more or less constantly defending it against the hateful comments of several of my California-born-and-raised friends who hate it here. My point was, however, that a lot of the things Americans are hated for, especially by Europeans, are particularly conspicuous here. Consider the high rates of gun ownership, regular and popular application of the death penalty, and highly visible Evangelicalism. I'm not bothered by any of these things, but your average European certainly is.

Cheryl said...

Ah, I understand better now. Thanks for the clarification! The point is well taken. And the idea that all Texans are gun-totin' cowboys and that the entire state is a flat-as-a-pancake dustbowl (or that all Southerners are racist, backward rednecks) is one that is shared not only by some Europeans but also by some Americans who have never been to the South! (People are often surprised when they discover I grew up in Texas because I don't have an accent or exhibit a lot of the stereotypes.)