After teaching this morning I took a moment to listen to Tiger Woods address the planet, not least because our course readings this term contemplate the timeless question of erotic desire. Woods's drama, in other words, is our drama, ancient and cruel.
Also, like the rest of the world, I'm a voyeur, and curious about other people's dirty laundry. (Yet another reason to salute the dignity of fiction: it ain't true; it ain't gossip.)
I must say that I found his speech fascinating. I loved its theatricality, its strategic (by which I mean intentional) futility, its enormous self-regard. I was delighted by the technological failure—exquisitely off-script—that forced us to watch its final minutes in profile, so that Wood's mother, and not Woods himself, became the center of the screen. And I was moved by his return to his mother's arms—the towering infant, back in the maternal sanctuary; and by her obvious love, which any son can imagine: limitless, permanent, unconditional.
But most of all, I realized watching him speak that I was witnessing an event that perfectly embodies the real ambition of middle-class American culture: to avoid the truth, at all cost.
No, I understate the case: the ambition of our culture is not merely to avoid the truth; it is to present the opposite of the truth as the truth.
That's what happened this morning.
I'll have more to say about this, perhaps (I hope!) in a long essay. I'll quickly note that my claim about the contemporary American culture's real goal applies to our current politics, our art (i.e., Avatar), our religions (which is really one religion, the religion of self-idolatry), and our heroes, like this morning's Tiger Woods.