Contradictions and similaraties between "Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopia" by David Brooks and Lewis Lapham's essay "Who and what is American?"

Essay by xtwister161College, UndergraduateA-, May 2005

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Suburban Lies

In his essay "Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopia" David Brooks defines the American dream as an idyllic world that is comparable to Lewis Lapham's essay "Who and what is American?". The American dream is not just a shared imagination, but a fantasy. Brook's humorous descriptions help him describe and critique the many suburban and ex-urban communities today. He characterizes the American dream as very unrealistic and argues that a our dreams cause a "Paradise Spell", a mysterious longing that causes a "great dispersal" from cities to suburbs. These suburban developments is where Brooks states that people hope to find their dreams. These dreams rarely come true; therefore, a lot of Americans start to lie to themselves, imagining that they are content, and their dreams have been fulfilled. According to Lapham, the suburbs represent "the pleasure of telling lies" and are a "mist of lies [...] that bind [Americans] to the theaters of wishes and dreams" (194).

Lapham states that people lie to themselves to reach their unrealistic dreams. There are two types of dreams: ones that can become a reality and are rational, and ones that are unrealistic and unattainable. The rational dreams include an individual's choices in educational institutions, and location on where to live or work. Although, that is not what the American dream is, most suburbanites have goals that are impossible to achieve and include components only found in fairy tails.

Brooks states that Americans are looking for a Paradise Spell. This Paradise Spell is entirely fictional. Americans buy houses that haven't been constructed so that their kids can go to schools that haven't been build; these actions are taken in hopes of finding "just the right moral revival, the right beer and the right set of buddies" (63). According to Brooks, Americans move from...