the moon / by mrm

Someday I hope I succeed in tracking down the full version of the "Encyclopédie capricieuse du tout et du rien" (in English, of course) an excerpt of which I recently read in the May 2009 Harper's (Vol. 138, No. 1908). According to Harper's, the encyclopedia "explains the world in a series of 800 lists." This is part of the list about Americans:

"Americans consider themselves polite, but they stick their hands in their pockets, drink from the bottle, speak in raised voices. Someone ought to train them how to behave in museums. Not only do they converse as if they were in their own houses; they do so in order to give educational lectures. With all their terrible goodwill, they wish to learn and to make all things serve this purpose. It is an American vice to believe that a work of art must teach something. In the same way, they were persuaded to drink red wine because they were told that wine was good for them, without consideration of pleasure. Their passion for learning is naive and honorable...

In the end, what we forget about countries is everything banal that we want to call characteristic. Isn't that what goes by the name of sociology?

They are overly fond of brown.

They eat all the time. What anguish must be theirs!

...It is the only country in the world where no one remains a foreigner. A person can go by the name of Zgrabenalidongsteinloff and no one will raise an eyebrow. 'In New York there are no impossible names,' as I was told by a novelist whose name raised the eyebrows of elegant racists in Paris. This is what makes everything possible. They walked on the moon because they are the moon."

- Charles Danzig, trans. by Lorin Stein