Global America? The Cultural Consequences of Globalization

By Ulrich Beck; Natan Sznaider et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
The Internet: An Instrument
of Americanization?
Rob Kroes

Once a year the Netherlands celebrates the Week of the Book. Every year an author is commissioned to write a book, usually a novelette or short story, as a gift to everyone buying books during the week. So far, for obvious reasons, the authors have been Dutch. In 2000, however, the theme for the week was ‘Writing between Cultures’, and the author invited was an avatar of intercultural writing, Salman Rushdie. The book he wrote was translated and came out under the Dutch title Woede (Fury). It is the story of a man haunted by his private version of the Greek Furies of old, cut adrift from his past, his friends, his wife and son, and ending up in self-imposed exile in New York. There, in an attempt to restore his creative powers, he invents an imaginary world, called Galileo–1, peopled by human beings and their cyborg replicas, who in a complex saga of war and ultimate victory replay the primal sagas as every culture in the world knows them. With the help of an odd assortment of computer whizzkids, the narrative is turned into a cyberspace story, accessible through a website. It becomes an instant, worldwide hit. Immediately, the characters break out of their fictional cages and begin to people the streets of the world. Messages come from all over the world about gigantic representations of the story' heroes scaling the walls of high-rise buildings. They turn up at celebrity events, sing the national anthem at baseball games, publish cookbooks and are invited to be on the David Letterman show. As the book' protagonist, Malik Solanka muses, in an ironic aside:

Everywhere in the world …people were obsessed by the theme of ‘success in America.’ In India people took exaggerated pride in the achievements of fellow-Indians, living in the US, in areas such as music, the publishing world …Silicon Valley and Hollywood. The British hysteria was, if anything,

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