Wednesday, 21 November 2007


Of course John Updike famously called America 'a vast conspiracy to make you happy'. One objection would be to retort 'happy in material terms only; America gives you the opportunity to shop yourself happy, and there's no true or lasting felicity there'. But this isn't it, I think. Religion is a much bigger deal in the States even than shopping; and religiously committed folk want to spread the bliss of Jesus around the population even more earnestly than car-dealers want to sell cars. It's hard to know how to resist this, except by saying, I prefer not to share in your happiness, and perhaps conspiracy to commit happiness upon other people ought to be a criminal offense. Which is how I choose to read the tenor of Updike's original statement.

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