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The Much-at-Once$
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Bruce W. Wilshire

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823268337

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823268337.001.0001

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The United States: Experimental Nation

The United States: Experimental Nation

(p.147) Segment Six The United States: Experimental Nation
The Much-at-Once

Bruce W. Wilshire

Fordham University Press

The United States itself was a kind of experiment. As Lincoln expressed it, the venture was to see if a government of the people, by the people, for the people could long endure. We have been dealing so far with an elite, rather than the mass of Americans. Emerson and Peirce were caught up ecstatically in the whole cosmos—in evolving states of hyperawareness. For Jefferson, “Nature and Nature’s God” entranced him and he wanted to stamp the world with his understanding of it. Today spirituality and religion have become polarized between too simple a belief in fundamentalist or fideist religion and an easy secularism enmeshed with the materialistic surface of life, deaf to its deeper rhythms. The barren fate of many Americans today is to believe no longer in such a transcendent Father, hence to live bereft of belief in anything sacred. As a slaveholder, Jefferson haunts our collective memory, given that slaves had been deprived of their own most essential right, liberty, and stripped nearly totally of whatever African past might have been retrieved—that which could have empowered, guided, woven them out of the past and into a future. They had to, and did, radically improvise. This new intersubjectivity and intercorporeality was a new power.

Keywords:   African Americans, American experiment, American music, creativity, Black Elk, Jefferson, religion, self-government, slavery, spirituality

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