Beach Theory & American culture

30 April 1992

Jasmine is writing a paper about the tendency of people in modern society to imagine a split between the sacred and the profane/mundane (instead of seeing them as a unity – as existing simultaneously as two necessary sides of the same coin) and this of course makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to deal with either one as it is not fully graspable when divided.

Anyway, I realized two things:

  1. This is very related to Beach Theory. I haven’t explained this yet. Both + Each = Beach, which is both land and sea, and each. It has to do with apparent dualities which are in fact also interrelated. Dan really gets credit with the serendipitous use of the Carrollism "Beach" two years ago. He was inspired by a note I wrote to my housemates, addressed to them "Both (and Each)." And he also gets credit for realizing, in the middle of the night, how "beach" really is both and each (because it is the land, and the sea, as well as the place where the land and sea meet) and hence the theory got a name and a definition (and even the name and definition are each and both since they are derived from each other).
  2. [Now you know why this site is called Rachel’s Beach House]

  3. The thing I like so much about that "American melange grunge culture" is the appreciation of exactly this quality – the representation of the mundane so that it becomes sublime (without being dramatic) or, more truthfully, so that we see the sublime-ness that is already there but we are blocked from seeing it in everyday life because we feel we must in order to function. (Well, different people to different extents.) But of course American culture will be that way because American culture is a self-referential culture, and the culture it refers to is at once a) often very cheesy and oversimplified and b) almost completely unlike the reality. I mean that if you trace the history of America and you trace the history portrayed in American culture, it will look, superficially, like two different countries. And yet, the country is linked to the culture in a very real but very ironic way and so this self-referential thing going on today is very intricate since it refers to two separate "realities" and their dubious connection (Beach again), and it’s pretty subtle, I think.