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For some time now I have thought it possible to believe that America was going insane. In her own way. And why not?

Countries go insane like people go insane; and all over the world countries reclined on couches or sat in darkened rooms chewing dihydrocodeine and Temazepam or lay in boiling baths or twisted in straightjackets or stood there banging their heads against the padded walls. Some had been insane all their lives, and some had gone insane and then gotten better again and then gone insane again. America: America had had her neuroses before, like when she tried giving up drink, like when she started finding enemies within, like when she thought she could rule the world; but she had always gotten better again. But now she was going insane, and that was the necessary condition.

In a way she was never like anywhere else. Most places just are something, but America had to mean something too, hence her vulnerability -- to make-believe, to false memory, false destiny. And finally it looked as though the riveting struggle with illusion was over, and America had lost.

From London Fields by Martin Amis (written in 1989), which I have just finished reading.