America is the original version of the Modern. Europe is a dubbed or post-synchronised version. A version with subtitles. America ducks the question of origins. It cultivates no origin or mythical authenticity: it has no past and no founding truth. Having known no primitive accumulation of time, it lives in a perpetual present. Having seen no slow, centuries-long accumulation of a principle of truth, it lives in perpetual simulation, in a perpetual present of signs. It has no ancestral territory. The Native Americans’ territory is today marked off in reservations, the equivalent of the galleries in which America stocks its Rembrandts and Renoirs.
But this is of no importance – America has no identity problem. In the future, power will belong to those people with no origins and no authenticity who know how to exploit that situation to the full.
Clearly, this is something I read.
But this is how we get to Lance Armstrong. When he re-entered the scene post-cancer, without knowing it, it already belonged to him. As it belonged to Greg LeMond, when he made the move from America to Europe. Back then Cyrille Guimard, Bernard Hinault and, later, Bernard Tapie, knew where the future was found, and it wasn’t in Old Europe. Johan Bruyneel must have felt the same with Lance Armstrong – a hollow body to be stuffed, filled and exploited to its utmost.
We can’t judge America’s crisis as we would judge our own, the crises of the old European countries. Ours is a crisis of historical ideals facing up to the impossibility of their realisation. Theirs is the crisis of an achieved Utopia, confronted with the problem of its duration and permanence.
The Americans are not wrong in their idyllic conviction that they are at the centre of the world, the supreme power, the absolute model for everyone. And this conviction is not so much founded on natural resources, technologies, and arms, as on the miraculous premise of a Utopia made reality, of a society which, with a directness we might judge unbearable, is built on the idea that it is the realisation of everything the others have dreamt of.
More of what I read.
Put Lance Armstrong into all this, and he plays out as a very fine American. Effortlessly applying his very self to the occasion.
Seven occasions. Fierce. Ruthless. No centuries-long accumulation of a principle of truth. No identity problem. Just an idyllic conviction. Nike. Just do it.
From Rouleur issue 51. Part five to follow