Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Frontier and the City of Angels

        Has anyone ever taken a moment and considered why it seems that people all over America, and perhaps even the world, are so infatuated with California? Perhaps I may be more specific and say, Los Angeles. Though I suspect that some may disagree with this opening assertion, I am certain that all will acknowledge that there exists in our society a certain "Los Angeles mystique" that is very real. I would like to take a moment and consider why this might be the case.
Now, on the surface, a simple answer to my inquiry might be: "It is because of Hollywood and the Movie/Celebrity Culture, duh." However, I suggest that the answer runs much deeper than that.
Frederick Jackson Turner, in his essay "The Significance of  the Frontier in American History," asserts that American expansionism and colonization of the frontier was central to defining the American nationalism, culture and ethos. Borrowing from Turner's ideas, I suggest that the "American Dream," in a very real sense, both evolved from and is played out in the frontier narrative. Perhaps I can better convey this concept in these words: from the very inception of the idea, concept, nation, thing which we call America, people have been driven west into the "wild and unknown" in an attempt to attain for themselves a better life and circumstances. At the time, it was noted that nothing would stop this westward movement except a physical, geographic boundary. (I think we read the in either our readings or in class, if you could point me to the quote, it would be most appreciated). Obviously, this came in the form of the Pacific Ocean.

I therefore suggest that California, epitomized by Los Angeles, due to its geographic location, both literally and symbolically represents the culmination of the frontier narrative.

--More on this to come!--