Jeff Crouch

The Puzzle of Suburbia

In "Understanding Epistemology, Part Three: Justify Yourself," Duncan Pritchard nicely articulates knowledge as based on a belief structure (The Philosopher’s Magazine: 28 (2004): 83-85). What I found most interesting in his presentation was that the belief structure itself seems to parallel another type of structure, namely architecture. The house most fitting this architecture is, of course, the courtroom. However, while Pritchard presents a geometry of space, he does not encounter knowledge as a build-out taking place in space and time. To do so would be to describe epistemology not as a single ground, but as a landscape, a region, a continent, a world, … .

Riding the roller coaster over and over.

The drunk uncle sure to bring financial ruin.

Gratuitous use of the topological trope: "Moebius strip."

In short, philosophy as history. That is to ask, does our knowledge ever have a single foundation, or is it as multiple as history? For such epistemology that does not make these considerations negates knowledge as a construct of history where the actual grounds of knowledge are much more like bricolage than blueprint. And beliefs too are like bricolage

Therapy for John Candy as the dweeb security guard. Jelly-of-the-month club. No bonus.

Briefly, let’s discuss knowledge outside the structure of belief, justification, and certainty. While these terms depict a particular architecture for epistemology as the grounds for knowledge, they only give us a geometry of floor and ceiling and condition us to understand knowledge as stacking, and in these terms, everything stacked needs something to be stacked upon. The ground of knowledge then becomes a question of firstness--the foundation needs a foundation. Of course, in these terms too, the foundation needs to be sturdy.

Kidnapping the boss, wrapping him in a bow, delivering him to the host.

Cornell West, he’s the best!

Perhaps the argument for knowledge here is merely analogical in the sense that it makes us at home in a physical universe where parallel conditions apply: for example, National Lampoon’s Vacation series—even if the children are not played by the same actors, and we are never really sure where the children—or the family for that matter— are in their development. On vacation, the family is, however, at the point of breakdown because it has to function as an institution and take over the role of other, time-consuming institutions. The TV turned off—the headphones on tight.

Family vacation—the anxiety, the big fun, the let-down. Vacation, I dare say, its own institution—an institution outside school or work, an institution that requires us to negotiate truth: family.

Two solid weeks of meeting the relatives.

Forgetting the dog and leaving it tied to the bumper.

Finding Aunt Edna dead.

Finding the cat in one Christmas box, jello in another.

The dog, Snots.

Sitting the corpse in a rocker on the porch and leaving a note on the corpse.


Sometimes I take a great deal of license in segues for my segues are not necessarily analogical, and analogy implies that my narrative logic is not simply associative , that it has more than a tangential structure, that the parallels I assert are somehow valid.

Harry Bailey now George Bailey, father as drunk uncle, a.k.a. Clark Griswald as Jason, Jason? –chainsaws off the faulty knob on the staircase.

Fantasizing Christie Brinkley.

Fantasizing the lingerie model.

Fantasizing cabaret.

Families absent of their governors are like steering wheels spinning wildly—a 360 degree whip of the wheel just to turn right. Driving through, the city abandoned except for, from the perspective of the middle-class family, the wrong class of people. The city—an occasional public space. An occasional demonstration, an occasional riot. Mostly though, peace and quit. People going to work, people going about their business.

Is it true? They do not live here. The dangerous people are just hanging out. The dangerous people have no home—no home in the suburbs.

Married with Children as Not the Cosbys. Polyester. Closed for repairs.

We do not want to be dangerous people—is that the point of A Raisin in the Sun?

Not Kathleen Turner as a neighbor. Archie Bunker.

Trying a game show stint—a slight name change, off to Europe.

City government. A committee, a behind-the-scenes something. In the usual historical sense, the city is the polis, the body politic. But what happens when the city is but a ghost town? Everybody—meaning everybody that counts—goes home, and home is in the suburbs. When people no longer dwell in their polis? Who then governs? Even in the

suburbs, the polis once had a center called Main Street. But Main Street gave way to the intersection, the mall. Where is the place of government? Is it as invisible as home ownership? The 1950s chronicled by David Halberstam.

Winslow Homer/Homer Winslow. Mr. Winslow on Family Matters. Homer.

The Beastie Boys/Baudrillard.

What about those who have returned to the city for entertainment? Vacation—in the near vicinity, Bedford Falls. But it does not all go to pot. Yet in It’s a Wonderful Life is not the point that the city without the suburbs—i.e., home ownership—turns librarians to prostitutes?

Christie Brinkley keeps smiling, and Clark Griswald fumbles all over himself.

Beverly D’Angelo plays a Doris Day re-do. Russ with a prostitute. Divine intervention. Parents. Children.

Having held a BB gun on a Wally World security guard, Clark Griswald has an explanation for his crime. The Golden Rule—we came all the way to Wally World only to find it closed. We suffered death, threat of prosecution, near financial ruin. Mr. Wally, we are not dangerous people; we only wanted to ride your rides.

"These people are terrorists"

"Would you do what I have done, Mr. Wally?"

The answer is no.

The dinner prayer: Play ball!

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