2012 Spring Issue 2 (April 13, 2012)
If I were really part of a grand tradition of flocking to cultural centers to learn from great scholars, I would go to New York or San Francisco, not Rome- and it wouldn't even matter nowadays, because globalization and the internet have spread cultural prestige so completely across the first world that talking about 'centers of knowledge' is essentially absurd.
A few weeks ago, I read in passing that an excess of potassium in your bloodstream could cause cardiac arrest. Having eaten probably four bananas that day, I immediately proceeded to Google to confirm whether this was true and whether I was in danger. It turned out I wasn’t the only one concerned. The first question that I found read: “I eat 25-30 bananas every day. Is this too many?"
It was a strange thing, using my mind to get out of my mind. The constant feeling that a shark was going to come speeding out of the blue and attack me, the fear of being stung by something foreign and terrifying, the fear of drowning, of getting left behind, still entered my mind. Yet, for the first time, I found the ability to accept I had no fear.
Nationalism is an invention. A damn useful invention. Picture this: a force that can control the mind, body, and soul of a huge mass of people and unite them under a common understanding of human cooperation and governance. That’s nationalism, and it’s a powerful tool. If you don’t think nationalism can be “used,” you’re wrong. Patriotic appeals are all over the place.