Simon: More people pay attention to fiction and to narrative than pay attention to journalism. That’s quite sad. More people pay attention to television than to prose. That’s equally sad, if not more so
Nobody reads anymore in America. Reading has become the least effective delivery system for narrative. That’s sad because prose is the means by which you can deliver very complicated, nuanced explanations of problems and possible solutions.
Q: Another theme that crops up a lot in Treme is authenticity–who belongs here, who doesn’t, who’s really from New Orleans, who isn’t. What are you trying to say with all that?
Simon: It’s a form of patriotism. That is the patriot- ism that was once reserved for the nation-state. Where immigrant families would compete against other immigrant families over who had been here the longest and who was the most invested. That was when the identification with the American ideal and the American collective seemed not only utterly desirable but essential. Because America, in turn, was identifying with the collective, with every class. It wasn’t as if the rich weren’t going to get richer; it wasn’t as if the poor didn’t have a harder life. But everybody, certainly from the time of the New Deal, believed in the ideal that we were all in this together. Or at least enough people believed it that we bought into that notion that the poor and the middle class and the rich were all invested in the same collective outcome. Nobody was going to get there on their own.