American Horror Story

I saw many things, heard many stories on my way from the East to the West coast. Some made sense to me, some less and some none at all. The United States did not feel like a nation to me, or a country, they felt more like a patchwork of nations and countries, of opinions and attitudes, held together by a flag, a five-page constitution, a strong belief in the military and two oceans that sandwich it all together;  it felt like a head-on collision between a third world country, a high-tech company and the remains of an empire.

I noticed how important stories are. US-Americans certainly like their stories, like to talk and like to scare each other. They seem to have an exceptional talent for horror stories.


I only got a glimpse, so it is hard to say what drives this country, but fear certainly seems to be a factor. It seems to me that many people in the US cherish their fears, especially the fear of loosing …

their life …


their property …


… or an argument.


They seem to have developed an arsenal of responses and insist on their rights to use them. Getting even seems to be very important to the american soul … but what if you are mistaken?

On one of my first days in New York I was sitting in a packed subway-car. A man sat down next to me and our arms touched. A random event due to the circumstances of too many people in too small a space, not worth mentioning or reacting to. … So I thought. The man immediately poked me with his elbow and said something that started with “Hey, man … ” The rest of the sentence was lost in slang. I instinctively apologized. The matter was settled.

I learned that US-Americans seem to be easily offended, have a tendency to readily suspect bad intentions and sometimes fail to see their own contribution to a situation. More so than I have seen in most other countries.

This might explain the abundance of a certain kind of small talk (Subtext: “Are you dangerous?” “No. I am not.”), the omnipresence of uniforms …




… fortified real estate …


… and harsh warning signs.


The story is, that the US is a dangerous place. No, it is not. At least not in my experience. In many places it sure looks dangerous, but I attribute this to a combination of a culture of negligence and a certain fashion style.

What about Violence? Well, I witnessed about ten policemen arresting a homeless person in a subway station. They did it in a professional way, … while the black detainee loudly complained about racism and the violation of his constitutional rights. Cliché, I know … but that was the way it happened.


Interlude: Well, there seem to be plenty of clichés around …



Maybe it is this combination of fear and the tendency towards offensive responses that explains the US-american obsession with the military and weapons. Maybe this is the reason why the US are so prolific in producing horror stories of all kinds, be it serial killers or superheroes battling earth shattering aliens or evil gods.


There are other stories: stories about economic success, …



… hard work …


… and brilliant minds.


This stories tell about the US as an economical and technological powerhouse.

They are quiet different from the stories about menial jobs and the host of low-wage workers, the stories about hardship in a society that seems to believe in individual charity as a superior form of health and welfare system.


There are stories about creativity, about extreme opinions and views, …


… but most stories are about normal people …




… and their dreams …


… in a big country …


… that seems to be fragmented …


… and united at the same time.


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