Monday, February 06, 2012

My Doppelgänger

I paused to reflect, on reading Steve Sailer's review of Jodi Kantor's new book, The Obamas, how much in common I have with the president, in lots of ways I Don't Blog About, and in two ways I will:

  • We both spent part of our growing up overseas, I in South America, Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia (Hawaii being a foreign country in every way that matters). We are both in many respects products of and at home in an international milieu.

  • Nothwithstanding our backgrounds, or perhaps as a reaction to them, we have both constructed for ourselves radical identities that are at some level inauthentic. Like Obama, I was raised by cultural elitists, and still take comfort at the strains of the Morning Edition theme. Unlike Obama, I actually attended public schools rural, urban, and suburban (and, I should add, with far more American blacks than Obama ever saw), an experience I hated without reservation. But despite my alienation from just about every aspect of modern American culture, I atavistically identify as a nationalist. Obama, for his part, and with the exception of his apparently genuine obsession with NBA basketball, has exactly nothing in common with the descendants of American slaves either genetically or culturally, yet has taken for himself the role of their avatar.

These two may be related. Were I of a more philosophical bent, I might speculate that Obama and I are attempting to create for ourselves membership in mythic communities of a kind we found only fleetingly in our lives as we actually lived them. But it's 4:00 a.m. and I'm not really very philosophical.

3 comments:

Professor Hale said...

Also, you are both black.

Justin said...

Come on, Hale, don't One-Drop-Rule him! He's trying to pass...

Elusive Wapiti said...

"I atavistically identify as a nationalist"

I don't think Mr. Obama identifies as a nationalist, either. His wife might, tho...