It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, and I’ve been thinking of a way to celebrate the really great things about it while also stay conscious of the complications in its cultural significance, the narratives associated with it that have tended to blot America’s national and cultural history of some of its darker moments.
To that end, I’ve put together a project somewhat different from anything I’ve done before. Taking a cue from Reasonably Sound’s podcast “Fetish Character,” I’ve made a narrative of my own. The piece below is made up entirely of found text, strung together to tell a story and through that story ask a question about the nature and workings and intersections of ideology, race, power, belief and history itself. How exactly that question could be formulated or answered is something I wanted to keep somewhat open. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.
Keep in mind that this was recorded quickly, excitedly, with a not-so-great microphone and so may require earphones to listen with maximum clarity.
Also, trigger warning: The text includes a depiction of torture (re: slavery).
Louis Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Toward an Investigation), 1970
Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction, 1991
Thom Gunn, Epitaph for Anton Schmidt, 1965
Abraham Lincoln, A Proclamation, 1864
Franklin D. Roosevelt, A Proclamation, 1939
William Bradford, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1623
John Smith, The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, 1624
Dennis Zotigh, Do Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?
St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, 1782
Red Jacket, speech at a meeting held to set up a missionary station among the six Iriquois nations, 1805
Langston Hughes, Let America Be America Again, 1935
Centron Corporation, A Day of Thanksgiving, 1951
Joseph McCarthy, Lincoln Day Speech, 1950
Paul Robeson before the House Un-American Activities Committee, 1956
Richard Blanco, América, 1998
George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789