What if the U.S. isn’t special?

I’ve never been one to believe in happy endings.

Not that I always object to them in a movie or novel. In music, I definitely prefer a satisfying resolution at the end of a song or a symphony to a conclusion of crashing dissonance or irresolution. But a fulfilling end to a work of art is precisely that — a work of artifice, conjured in a mind, executed with intent, and brought to a moment of deliberate completion. The tidy tying up of a plot or the pleasing return to the tonic chord is a function of the human will to create a world more orderly than our own — one with a firmly defined beginning, middle, and end, and with internal movement that culminates in something beautiful.


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