Washing dishes this morning while listening to the HomePod play the New World Symphony. Hannah Arendt isn’t the only one who writes about the new world’s work on the old one’s mind. Reading between Tocqueville’s lines, of course, one learns more about the old world than the new. Democracy in America is about the beholder.
Dana Villa, writing in 2005, resolves his chapter on Tocqueville’s conception of a public sphere akin to “Montesquieu’s pouvoirs intermédiares” with this reversal of fortune:
It is an irony of history that the political conception of civil society Tocqueville introduced to Europe must now be reintroduced to America — from, of all places, a democratic and secular Europe.1
Researching the HomePod, I was sickened by this Apple ad. Our protagonist leaves a cramped public space — she apologizes her way out of an elevator car packed with impersonal shoulder blades — for her small apartment, which she widens with waves of her hand as the HomePod plays a favorite. If our new worlds are private ones, Tocqueville warns, the old world will hunt us down.
Title page of the autograph score of Dvorák’s ninth symphony
- Villa, Dana. Public Freedom (2008) at 45, 48. ↩