…….Huck and Tom represent two viable models of the American character. They exist side by side in every american and every american action. America is, and always has been, undecided about whether it will the the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck. The United States of Tom looks at misery and says: Hey, I didn’t do it. It looks at inequity and says: All my life I have busted my butt to get where I am, so don’t come crying to me. Tom likes kings, codified nobility, unquestioned privilege. Huck likes people, fair play, spreading the truck around. Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders. Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes. Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies. These two parts of the American psyche have been at war since the beginning of the nation, and come to think of it, these two parts of the World Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the world, and the hope of the nation and of the world is to embrace the Huck part and send the Tom part back up the river, where it belongs.Excellent stuff. Mr. Saunders is the recipient of one of the "genius" grants from the MacArthur Fellowships. He deserves it.
P. 204-205, in The United States of Huck (essay), part of The Braindead Megaphone (collection of essays) by George Saunders
A final quote from a different essay in the book:
...The British are, it would appear, allied with us Americans in the “War on Terror.” I found something rousing about this sense of shared purpose --- this sense that they too were fooled by spurious intelligence; they too were, while in a state of fear, too quick to believe what they were told by their leaders; they too are willing to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of an endless war against what is essentially an imprecise noun, a war that is, semantically speaking, analogous to a War on Patriarchy, or the Very Energetic Siege of Narcissism.If you haven't read anything by this fellow, get to your library pronto and be prepared for a treat.
P. 94, A Brief Study of the British (essay), from The Braindead Megaphone (collection of essays) by George Saunders.