I flew into Indianapolis on Thursday. I'm in the States for Matt's wedding to Aida and have come out a little early to offer help in the inevitable stress of the build up. Afterwards I'm hoping to travel South before heading back to the UK in mid August.
I'm in the heart of the mid-West here, and after three days here am still really acclimatising to the left brained culture that is modern America. I think part of the problem is that, incomprehensibly, to most of my hosts I can't fathom the grid system (or any form of pure logic) easily. To me It's a number based, accident prone and purely abstract. In fact I've become aware that without visual architectural landmarks I struggle to trust my sense of direction at all.
Trust is a huge part of the sense of freedom here - and this includes a very literal use of language. Being clear and saying what you mean was , I suspect, vital to the survival of the first pioneers pushing westward and it's a quality that is celebrated and maintained in every social transaction. I've already confined several passages of my best man's speech to the bin as 'over ironic,' they'd work in London, but die here.
The efficiency culture also has a major downside. In February I spent three days at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin and was amazed at the obesity levels amongst in the town. Again walking around the malls here it feels like a dangerous warning. It's a car driven society - meaning all journeys need planning. The restaurants serve huge portions of cheap food -fast, and every major domestic breakthrough is still focused on convenience, mechanisation and ease. For an aging population this is fantastic news, but for the young, the sense of compromise needed to be part of united and efficient team America lacks spontaneity, rebellion and feels almost intellectually dispiriting. America is so vast that, of course, it teems with counter cultures but I can't help wondering if an encouraged subservient infantilism, masquerading as freedom of choice, isn't terrorism's hidden victory.
The Hoosier hospitality though is wonderful and Matt's extended family of Aunts, cousins, sisters and his parents, who are putting me up, couldn't be doing more to welcome Aida into the Hahn tribe.
Thursday 15th February 2018
2 days ago