England: First Thoughts

London from the bridge...
I find this photo interesting because I did not edit it in any way. This is how the scene looked to my eyes as well.

Being in England is an education in many ways.  I have lived abroad for various lengths of time and each experience provided a useful degree of contrast, but my experience in the UK thus far has been unique–cultural consonance and dissonance reapportioned in new and unforeseeable dimensions.  There is something simultaneously impressive and inscrutable about this place, a puzzle in plain sight.  In many ways, it seems like the mirror-opposite of the United States for better and worse.  I’m still thinking about it to the extent that a full post would be premature.  But I will say that this is not the England that lives in the American popular imagination, and vice versa.  Two very different, yet comparable, cultures dream of each other on either side of an ocean.  Each dream contains a mixture of belief, fear, and desire.  Crossing the water, one finds oneself in a new place that seems deceptively familiar.  And the mechanics of what one believes about Self and Other have to be confronted on a regular basis.  I have only been here for three weeks.  So it is too soon to characterize these things.  But hopefully my ongoing notes will begin to form some developmental arc, some narrative that I can use to gain a more critical distance.