Friday, May 11, 2007

My American Dream

Greetings all, now given how I explained that many of my sessions have titles that have nothing to do with that actual content of the session, I must now contradict that and give a session that does factor in with the title. But then again I did give the cavet that the non-relation between session and title was not a definite rule (or at least that was implied) and I said that that was mostly the case for personal sessions and this (at least once I get through this introduction) is a topical session, so in short if you're surprised by the title relating to the topic then you're a bum.

So having read that you would probably assume the title had something to do with the American dream and if you did so then you would be right. However if you assumed that this session was actually about my personal American dream you'd be wrong, the "My" part of the title is actually just a shoutout to Scrubs which I usually watch while I write my sessions. I will at some point visit the subject of my American dream because I'm just that interesting, but today I will start with a little something I've been thinking about which is my favorite movie Rushmore and one of my favorite books The Great Gatsby.

Both I think have to do with the American Dream, The Great Gatsby more famously but also Rushmore. What is the American Dream you may ask? You may ask, but you'd be asking a computer, and that would be a little crazy but anyways I think the American Dream really comes down to chasing a goal and a dream with all your passion and not giving up. The Great Gatsby was like that, Jay Gatsby chased his dream of being a man that could win Daisy's heart, that is the ideal rich swinging 20's man. But Rushmore was like that too. Max Fischer is always chasing after a dream with all his heart and passion, at first I really couldn't tell what his passion was about but then I thought about that opening scene where he is dreaming about giving the perfect answer to the ultra-complicated math problem and that gives the whole class no homework (or is it A's) for the semester (an unattainable dream for him since he is an absolutely horrible student, just like being Daisy's perfect man was ultimately unattainable goal for Gatsby since the means which he used to become a rich man stained him in front of Daisy). And then factoring in his absolute love for the school (the Rushmore of the title, a elite private school which he got ad and all his ton of extra-cirricular activities it occurs to me that his dream, his true dream is to be the absolute perfect student. Unlike Gatsby his dream intially is not attached to a romantic factor (although it actually might be a desire to please his dead mother who first recommended him to the school), but later it takes on a romantic dimension when he falls in love with Ms. Cross a teacher at Rushmore for little kids. His dream takes on an added dimension now, to become the man that Ms. Cross wants (he believes he can do this by building an aquarium and acting as spunky as her late husband, and also by becoming a perfect student as his later attempts to get good grades I think show), I think these two dreams are actually intertwined especially considering Ms. Cross is a Rushmore teacher.

But ultimately tragedy ensues. With Gatsby it is the loss of Daisy whose husband reveals Gatsby's true nature as a bootlegger and ultimately shatters his image as the perfect rich man. With Fischer the fall is more prolonged and complicated. First, he is expelled from Rushmore due to his pursuit of Ms. Cross, then after several rebuffs he is finally told off by her after he gets her fired from Rushmore. He also loses his best friends, an eccentric millionaire who becomes his rival for Ms. Cross, and his sidekick who like Daisy has his image of the protagonist shattered. Fisher is ultimately defeated, and actually he takes his defeat worse than Gatsby, for a moment giving up his dream (although it is suggested that Gatsby does this as well, you have to take into account the unreliable narrator who is also trying to justify his life I think, where he eventually gives up dreaming). I could bring out the parrellels more, but that would take time I don't have (maybe I'll turn this into a more formal essay and post it up somewhere later), so then we must move on to the aftermath of the fall. Here the differences between the two become very striking.

While Gatsby retains one good friend, the narrator, who attempts to encourage him, he is ultimately surrounded by fakes and as the narrator points out "careless people" like Daisy and her husband. These people ultimately cause Gatsby's demise because they play around with people's lives and then avoid the aftermath, like Daisy's husband whose affair sends his mistress running wildly into the street, and Daisy who finishes the job by killing (accidentally running her over, but still carelessly) the mistress. This sets into motion Gatsby's demise (they actually might have had a more direct role by directly the mistress' husband to Gatsby's house, but this is a matter of interpretation). With Fisher it is different, and ultimately I think it is because he is not surrounded by careless people, but by caring people. His disillusioned friend, his father, the girl he rejected all help him to recover and pick a new dream, a better one, which is to try to help all those around him. And in the end, despite the grave problems his friends and associates have he does help all of them. He achieves his dream, he may have been hurt badly and lost some hopes along the way but ultimately he recovers chooses a new direction and really wins.

Gatsby I think could have also chose a new dream if he was given the time, especially since he was stronger than Max and did not sink into the depression Max did. The narrator might suggest he did but again I think this is just the narrator trying to justify his choices, when he left Gatsby, Gatsby was smiling. Even if he had the depression I think Gatsby could have recovered after all he recovered from his first rejection from Daisy and maybe hopefully with the help of his friends he could have chosen a new dream especially since he recieved the news that he was better than the whole lot of the rich people with a smile, perhaps understanding finally that it was true. But he didn't have the time to recover or choose a new dream, because the rich people in whose circles he hung around were careless, most especially Daisy and her husband, and they destroyed him with their carelessness as well as destorying the poor husband of Daisy's husband's (I should by now start using his name Buchannan) mistress (Myrtle). Fischer triumphed because he lived in a better world of caring people.

Maybe that's what we need in America. Not a country that's less ambitious or less willing to pursue our dreams, even though often the dreams are ill-chosen (Max's dream of being a perfect student was certainly ill-chosen since it was a dream that was ill-suited for him, someone who was bad academically, and overall it didn't make sense because eventually you have to leave school (a fact he was trying to avoid in the beginning of the movie, partly simply by ignoring it or trying to add another year his stay at Rushmore)) and/or lead to spectacular failure. What America needs is people who are caring, who will pick up those who fail and help them regain their cofidence and find a new path. Maybe America needs people who will take responsibility for their actions (which Max in the end had to do as well, which was part of his process of recovery and his new dream of helping those around him), instead of Daisy and Buchannan who ignored their responsibilities and the fall-out from their actions. Maybe in such a kinder world, Gatsby could have survived and reached his potential. Maybe instead of the narrator saying in the end I think Gatsby was alright (I'm paraphrasing), he'll say of course Gatsby was glorious. And if that's what I need, and I think it is, maybe it's time we all aimed are lives towards that and started treating each other with a spirit of love and caring, without forgetting though to dream the magnificent dreams (I think dreaming that magnificently is also an act of love, a love for the goal and a love for the world that allows it, as well as a love for the human spirit that is capable of such passion and the Creator of that spirit), the kind of dreams that made Gatsby great even in defeat. That's at least how I think, and that's at least how I think. Anyways, I thought it was neat that I could combine ideas from two of my favorite works, and so now that I've done that I realize I actually need to get going (to Rutgers, to get credit for an internship to help me along in pursuing my dreams, of course, I must be careful never to forget to act with caring). So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart (this phrase actually works very well for this session), and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

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