June 28, 2011

Has America Lost Its Edge?

Roger Cohen, New York Times


The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once remarked that the United States was "aesthetically inferior but morally superior" to Europe. On the aesthetics, there’s not much doubt. Savoir vivre is a French expression that English finds it needs. Style is many things but one reason Italy elevates it is because it is a fine disguise for lost power. When you’re running the world you don’t have much time for Windsor knots.

The aesthetics of European cities offer the consolation of the past’s grandeur but seldom the adrenalin of future possibility. It’s wonderful to be lost in Bruges or Amsterdam, Venice or Vienna. The palaces bear no relation to current obligations. They have become outsized repositories of beauty.

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Related Topics: economy


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