• February 18, 2016
  • 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Room 565
    1453 Mission St
    San Francisco, CA 94103
Add to Calendar 02/18/2016 7:00 pm 02/18/2016 9:00 pm America/Los_Angeles The Myth of Innocence with Barry Spector Barry Spector is the author of “Madness At The Gates Of The City: The Myth Of American Innocence” (winner of the 2011 PEN/Oakland Literary Award). Room 565
1453 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
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On February 18, we will look at American history and politics through a new (or very old) lens: mythology. We will consider the unique historical circumstances that led to a vision of a heroic American nation divinely ordained to bring opportunity and freedom to the world - while simultaneously denying those goals to large segments of its own population. The way that white Americans live with these massive contradictions is to subscribe, consciously or not, to a complex and privileged mythology that allows them to define themselves as both exceptional and absolutely innocent of all evil.

Holding to such an identity, however, requires America to project its darkness upon the "Others" of the world. Since the very beginning, our writers, politicians, preachers and filmmakers have supplied us with abundant images of dark, evil strangers to provoke our anxieties, beginning with Native Americans and slaves. Later, communism took on the mantel of The Other. When that vein was exhausted, the media discovered the twin menaces of immigration and terrorism. For four centuries we have spun back and forth between fear and denial.

How to grapple with this condition? We all sense that life wasn't always like this; that we once knew how to live in harmony. Our indigenous souls long for a different story. But first we need to comprehend how dreadful our plight actually is, to feel and grieve how much of our ancestral heritage we have lost. Then, mythology may provide the new imagination that we need.

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