Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Open thread: How do we cope with the theory and practice of New Albany?

Four years and 2,200 posts ago, we made an assertion and asked a question. The assertion remains unchallenged, and the question is unanswered, although we've certainly devoted much consideration to it:

New Albany is a state of mind – but whose?

Beginning on January 8, I’ll be taking a step into uncharted territory when my first Tribune guest column is published. The plan is to submit 900 words each week. No stipulations have been placed on the content of these columns, and while there is no denying that the blogging experience will come to bear on the finished products, I was an essayist before I was a blogger, and there is a certain style intrinsic to the print format that will take time for me to master.

That said, I’ve already informed my wife, closest friends and confidants that given the task at hand, I’ll need help – not in writing, but with ideas and creative prodding.

On Sunday, I obliquely referenced one possible angle for my approach in the columns of Jeffrey Bernard. Also, most of you know that HL Mencken is a vital and continuing influence. In their respective ways, both of these writers devoted their words to a catharsis of sorts, and I've always felt the same way.

Stated simply, it goes something like this: How does one cope in a place where one's own worldview is devalued in cultural, political and institutional senses?

And, what is theory and practice of New Albany, why does it prod me to catharsis in writing, and how do we (collectively, you and I) cope with it?

Your thoughts are appreciated.


Iamhoosier said...




Jeff Gillenwater said...

Question one: Why do we choose to cope?

1. The inability to walk away from a fight. Or the obvious.

2. The cliche is "Don't hate the player, hate the game". There's an implication that players have to accept the game as played. That's a cop out.

3. The realization that many people in other parts of the world who've reached the "right" conclusions did so just as blindly as locals who've reached the wrong ones. A uniform is a uniform, even if it's a much cooler one.

4. "Well-adjusted" is an insult. It's interchangeable with "benign" and "inconsequential". Why anyone would purposely seek that is a mystery.

5. Whatever intellect natives have in this slice of the world is usually developed as part of a defense mechanism. It's more difficult to implement outside of that context.

6. Regardless of what they believe, people who fire missiles from hundreds or thousands of miles away aren't war heroes. They haven't even been tested.

7. People who've never experienced oppression don't appreciate freedom, making it problematic to appreciate them. While local circumstances aren't generally comparable to more direct threats on life, we appreciate freedom as prerequisite to a life worth living. That others have usurped patriotism as their own is criminal.

8. Hearing a close relative, upon returning home from a first trip, describe Europe as "Not really better or worse, just different" ranks among my greatest moral victories.

9. Authenticity can't be underestimated. According to Rilke, who would've written the Bible if there was any justice, "In everything real, one is closer to it."

10. Flailing against enui.

Boy this is going to be a long conversation.

Bayernfan said...

I just spend the last 10 days in a city of about 15,000 people where there is a completely walkable city, bike lanes, beautiful public parks, a tremendous public transportation system, etc... Not to mention solar panels EVERYWHERE! I just kept thinking to myself, why can't we do this? What would it take to begin a process to allow us in New Albany have this type of progress?

G Coyle said...

sometimes I wonder if there was an "industrial revolution" toxin unleashed on the city between the 1930s and 50s+, some horrible neurological agent that poisoned the water and lowered the mean intelligence and we are seeing the lingering effects of that in the devastation wrought over 50 years.

Christopher D said...

Personally speaking I think the biggest issues with our fair city is the lack of a sense of priority, and the unwavering, never failing name recognition electorial process.
We continually see the same names in the same positions term after term after term, and in the midst of those terms we see little if any progress towards real change.
On the rare occassions when we do see new blood in the political arena, the next elections we see the ones we "fired" make a come back.
I strongly feel that Mr. Gonder represents a strong and lasting change change in the political landscape, however I am only luke warm at best regarding others.
Change in this city is not up to the elected/appointed officials, it is us, the voters, who shoulder this burden.
We need to demand political change, we need to stick to our demands, spread the word, educate one another, and hit the pavement during election times for those who will stand up for a rebirth of this city. Otherwise we will end up paying the Price for another 4 year Coffey break.