Review of Transnational America – Contours of Modern US Culture

Transnational America: Contours of Modern US Culture is an editorial book including 13 essays by different individuals plus a completely illustrated one named photo essay in the work, edited by Russell Duncan and Clara Juncker. Museum Tusculanum Press has published it in 276 pages paperback with ISBN 8772899581 on 2004 in Copenhagen.

Contributors in this one volume editorial are experts in various disciplines mostly English Literature and American Studies.

The work categorized in 5 major categories: 1- Visions and Revisions 2- Secrets and Lies 3- Photo Essay 4- New People 5- New Places, which each one subcategorizes to a few essays.

This book has a pro-American structure, and tries to introduce America as a transpattern and even an Archetype which all other nations and states must follow from its nation-state pattern. Many countries are consciously or unconsciously go after it, and its taste and scent can be sensed in rest of the world. That’s why it’s called Transnational America.

In fact editors believe in an alliteration of Trans in everything related to America as it’s depicted in editors’ introduction:

“A transatlantic voyage can discover a new continent or start new lives, and a transcontinental exploration can give rise to Manifest Destiny. Pioneers can transverse frontiers to build a nation. To transmigrate is to travel through one country on the way to a more permanent resting place. Slaves are transported; immigrants make transitions; people are transformed. Transactions are necessary to property acquisition. Translators mediate among languages. Hopes are transmitted; communities are transplanted; nations are transfigured. Media producers transcribe programs for broadcast. Employees are transferred to regional for international offices.”

It can be said -In deed- the book tries to normalize the trans-Naturalization concept.

“The editors commissioned articles that explain the contours of the ‘glocal’ (global and local) and ‘intermestic’ (international and domestic) tendencies involved in transnational America.” The language of the work is not too complicated but to some extent sophisticated, editors intend to deliver their minds by coining new words using blending method which can be a sign and metaphor of interdisciplinary approach of the book per se.

“They address the complex issues of globalization, American mythology, Christian proselytizing, modern slavery, conspiracy theory, apocalyptic terrorism, Vietnam stories, international feminism, changing gender roles, resurgent regionalism, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Latinos, and the changing definitions of place-be they in Hungary, Nigeria, Estonia, the American South or Canadian cities. As the word enters America, so America enters the world, unfettered by territorial boundaries, and experiencing ambivalent reactions of acceptance and resistance.”

It’s really hard to label it as unique, but undoubtedly it’s a great work for those who are new comers in Americaology and Globalizationology. Popular culture is smelled in the whole; examples, similes and metaphors to different Hollywood motion pictures give a subtle abstract interactive mood to work.

Nonetheless it has a unique part, and it’s the photo essay. 14 Dazzling photos which may represents 14 essays of the work. A well expert eye obviously can find a lot and even more in each; ‘Naturalization’, ‘Mc Donaldization’, American Surreallization, Presidential ExceptionalizationAmerican jigsawization, Phallicist Feminization, Negro-Islam Americanization, Economical Novelization, Mexico-America Hybridization, Amerinadaization, un-American assimilation; are probable conceptualized nominations which I dare to put on them, and of course all are coined by me save in quotation marks. I really recommend everyone who is interested in book and is in lack of time for whole reading even though skipping the rest live a quarter with this photo essay which has a encyclopedic essence.

As it is asserted in the book for American Understanding various notions and concepts must be taken into account; ‘nationalism’, ‘racism’, ‘manhood’, ‘Christianity’, ‘globalization’, ‘immigration’, ‘classic-democratic roots’, ‘militarism’, ‘technology’, ‘advertising banners’, ‘youth’, ‘future’, ‘progress’ and ‘frontier’ are issues which are reviewed in this work, so paves the way for American Understanding. But some other points are neglected in this work if so they are being concerned as modern US culture elements too; Hip Hop music, same sex marriage, new concept of Stew as successor of Melting Pot, Voluntarism, Democratization of the World and pre-emption. Nevertheless it enlightens new horizons in watching America as an insider even out of it.

Feeling Culture Shock in "A Blurry-Bordered, Polyglot Blade Runner World"?

Is America a “culture-shocked society” at war with itself, as is the rest of the world?

Mr. Ian C. Dawkins Moore-a man on a mission, who hates “xenophobic bores,” who, in a continuing voyage of self-discovery, traveled through the heart of Europe back to Africa and then into America-believes it is.

And so, taking the term “culture shock” from Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book, Future Shock, he has set out to wake us up and to help us better understand the multicultural world we live in through the medium of Culture Shock News (CSN), which can now be seen 24/7 around the world in flash video format.

Mr. Moore’s argument is that while we have reached “fantastic heights” technologically, “the parallel development of social interaction, integration, and inclusion has not kept pace.”

He believes societies are “at war with each other and themselves because they do not accept the need to treat each other like they would wish to be treated themselves.”

Nevertheless, ever the optimist, Mr. Moore sees a way out of our culture-shocked state.

“My experiences,” he says, “have shown me that when people listen to each other, each gains positive feedback.

“Every one I meet is a potential creative force that can change the nature of their lives and those around them.

“By concentrating on one person at a time, I’m encouraged by the potential for change there is for the future.

“As the Christians say: If I can help somebody on their road of life, then my life will not have been in vain.”

The qualifications of this writer, teacher, engineer, and video producer, who was born in London, England, to tackle the shocks of a multicultural world-or what a writer has described as “a blurry-bordered, polyglot Blade Runner world” while reviewing Mr. Moore’s work [Anneli Rufus in the East Bay Express, August 10, 2005]-are persuasive.

As “the child of the fifties and sixties,” he believes he belongs to “the first generation perhaps, to give voice to the multicultural reality of the modern world” [Culture Shock Essays by I. C. Moore, Jukebox Press, Oakland, CA, 1999; page 1].

“I’m,” Mr. Moore points out, “a product of an English mother and a Jamaican father,” and because neither of them raised him, he had many surrogate parents and families from whom he learned “to love those who give love.”

And in what was to become characteristic of him in later years, he spent his youth fleeing “xenophobic bores” [“My Bio-Sphere,” Culture Shock Essays].

After graduating in 1970 with a British degree in civil engineering, Mr. Moore began a journey across continents that honed his vision and his role in a multicultural world.

First, he traveled throughout Europe, working various jobs. Then in 1974, he decided to dedicate himself to the teaching profession and traveled to West Africa for two years in search for “the African side” of his nature.

He crossed the Sahara desert and journeyed through Algeria, Mali (visiting Timbuktu), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, teaching English and working as a graphic designer, sales executive, and diamond miner.

Mr Moore writes that his African odyssey had a “profound effect” on his “early manhood” [“The Road to Ramadan,” Culture Shock Essays, p. 51] as he became aware of his real African connection.

It was also during this journey that he became a Muslim.

On his conversion to Islam, Mr. Moore reflects in “The Road to Ramadan”:

“Through faith and compassion my understanding of the world and its different peoples was greatly enhanced. Above all, the search for truth through constant inquiry and self-examination has persisted throughout these many years since I found myself on the road to Ramadan.”

In 1976, he again returned to England and worked on an oilrig in the North Sea as a roustabout, and as a planning engineer for an oil company in Aberdeen, Scotland. He also played saxophone in various bands at local establishments and was involved in a number of theatrical productions.

Then in 1981, Mr. Moore moved to the United States and established himself as a freelance writer, graphic artist, and award-winning video producer, and set out to wake us up with CSN

His mission lights him up. Elaborating on CSN’s exploration of the contributions of all the cultures that make up the American family-including its confrontations, Mr. Moore says, “I have set out on one of the most interesting challenges of my life: Changing the world through poetry and artistic expression, one poet at a time.

“I have a gift for meeting people, and, encouraging their creative spirit.

“Each individual must free themselves, and that can best be done by opening up to their creative spirit.”

He has written four books, two about culture and education, and two books of poetry.

This avid reader, who averages “a book a week,” all of which he finds have an influence on him, says in his autobiographical poem, “My Bio-Sphere” [Culture Shock Essays, p. 110]:

I read like a fish who swims in the night

I spend more on books than I have such a right

I meditate, cool out, and stay un-tight.

My dreams are to learn the heart of the word

My hopes are to chase that winged bird

My endeavors, I pray, are to teach and be heard.

Poem © 1999 Ian C. D. Moore

Based in Oakland, California, since 1981, Mr. Moore lives with his wife Bridgette and daughter Jazmine.

Flash Reviews of two books by Ian C. Dawkins Moore

Culture Shock Essays [Jukebox Press, Oakland, CA, 1999; $13; ISBN 0-932693-04-0]

All of these essays are enlivened by Mr. Moore’s unique point of view. He says what’s on his mind, a mind alive to the multi-cultural possibilities and contributions of our times, as well its confusions, as he describes his travels in essays entitled: ‘Coming to America’; ‘See London and Die’; ‘The Road to Ramadan’ (about his conversion to Islam); ‘China: 6,000 years in 6 days’; ‘The Promised Land’ (his sojourn in Palestine); ‘Jamaica-No Problem’ (his experience during Hurricane Gilbert in 1988); and ‘Nice Chap’ (an essay about his relationship with his father).

The Color of Jazz (Poetry) [Quilombo Enterprises ICM, Oakland, CA]

These poems, which record observations and memorable moments in Mr. Moore’s life, each written with a person in mind–including poets, musicians, politicians, himself, and family, were published in 2001 under the name ‘Kweku Dawkins, writer, poet, raconteur.’ The one I found interesting was a poem for the poet by the poet that reflects an essential aspect of himself, both as poet and person, that he wishes to celebrate and acknowledge:

IT’S NOT WITH EYES OF TEARS (For Kweku D.)

It’s not with eyes of tears

That I greet the new season’s dawning.

Nor do I chase like a butterfly the

Threads of a half-forgotten tapestry.

I sing no song of pain to raise my muse,

For she calls to me in every mood,

A spirit fixed to my inner soul

—-I have only to listen.

Poem: © 2001 Ian C. D. Moore (Kweku Dawkins).