An American paradox

To blunt the terror of freedom, we celebrate our national independence by enslaving ourselve to mind-altering substances, gustatory excess, and spectacular entertainments. If I sound like a killjoy, it's just the hangover talking. In the midst of my third pass through Infinte Jest, with a heightened awareness of how America's combination of insatiable desire and the ability to fulfill it leads inexorably toward ruin, I feel a bit ashamed of how I treated my body yesterday, and awoke with the ESL eloquence of Infinite Jest's Quebecois, wheelchair-bound assassin Remy Marathe, holding forth to a U.S. agent on American freedom as it relates to a fatally compelling entertainment cartridge, resounding in my thick head:

"This is a U.S.A. production, this Entertainment cartridge. Made by an American man in the U.S.A. The appetite for the appeal of it: this also is U.S.A. The U.S.A. drive for spectation, which your culture teaches. This I was saying: this is why choosing is everything. When I say to you choose with great care in loving and you make ridicule it is why I look and say: can I believe this man is saying this thing of ridicule?....These facts of situation, which speak so loudly of your Bureau's fear of this samizdat: now is what has happened when a people choose nothing over themselves to love, each one. A U.S.A. that would die - and let its children die, each one - for the so-called perfect Entertainment, this film. Who would die for this chance to be fed this death of pleasure with spoons, in their warm homes, alone, unmoving: Hugh Steeply, in complete seriousness as a citizen of your neighbor I say to you: forget for a moment the Entertainment, and think instead about a U.S.A. where such a thing could be possible enough for your Office to fear: can such a U.S.A. hope to survive for much longer time? To survive as a nation of peoples? To much less exercise dominion over other nations of other peoples? If these are other peoples who still know what it is to choose? who will die for something larger? who will sacrifice the warm home, the loved woman at home, their legs, their life even, for something more than their own wishes of sentiment? who would choose not to die for pleasure, alone?....Us, we will force nothing on U.S.A persons in their warm homes. We will make only available. Entertainment. There will be then some choosing, to partake or choose not to. How will U.S.A.s choose? Who has taught them to choose with care? How will your Offices and Agencies protect them, your people?....This appetite to choose death by pleasure if it is available to choose - this appetite of your people unable to choose appetites, this is the death. What you call the death, the collapsing - this will be the formality only....Someone or some people among your own history sometime killed your U.S.A. nation already, Hugh. Someone who had authority, or should have had authority and did not exercise authority. I do not know. But someone sometime let you forget how to choose, and what. Someone let your peoples forget it was the only thing of importance, choosing. So completely forgetting that when I say choose to you you make expressions with your face such as "Herrrrrrre we are going." Someone taught that temples are for fanatics only and took away temples and promised there was no need for temples. And now there is no shelter. And no map for finding the shelter of a temple. And you all stumble about in the dark, this confusion of permissions. The without-end pursuit of a happiness of which someone let you forget the old things which made happiness possible. How is it you say: "Anything is going"?....For your walled up country, always to shout, Freedom! Freedom!" as if it were obvious to all people what it wants to mean, this word. But look: it is not so simple as that. Your freedom is the freedom-from: no one tells your precious individual U.S.A selves what they must do. It is this meaning only, this freedom from constraint and forced duress. But what of the freedom-to? Not just free-from. Not all compulsion comes from without. You pretend you do not see this. What of freedom-to. How for the person to freely choose? How to choose any but a child's greedy choices if there is no loving-filled father to guide, inform, teach the person how to choose? How is there freedom to choose if one does not learn how to choose? The rich father who can afford the cost of candy as well as food for this children: but if he cries out "Freedom!" and allows his child to choose only what is sweet, eating only candy, not pea soup and bread and eggs, so his child becomes weak and sick: is the rich man who cries "Freedom!" the good father?"