May 292012

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Memorial Day saw the annual Indianapolis 500, the nation’s most famous car race. Many consider this race to be an icon of modern American culture, with deep underpinnings in our communal national identity. “This race represents the futility of our existence,” said Janice Dobson, a philosophy professor at Brown University. “The drivers believe they are heading towards a goal, the archetypal American Dream, but in reality they are simply going around in literal and metaphorical circles. In a grand expression of denial, they refuse to acknowledge the pointlessness of it all, and simply increase their speed in a vain attempt at warding off an existential crisis.

“Their journey, represented by the track, is often strewn with danger, with injuries and even death being arbitrarily visited upon the competitors. Not even good character is a defense against the capriciousness of this gauntlet, and those who finish the race are not so much winners as they are survivors.

“And there’s beer,” Dobson added. “Mobs of gap-toothed rednecks getting sunburn on their tattoos while consuming the equivalent of several regulation Olympic swimming pools full of beer. The parallels between the Indy 500 and American life are endless.”

While the race may be a synchronistic manifestation of the American collective unconscious, its meaning is clear at a more immediate level to many race enthusiasts. “Number 3 forever baby, yeah!” said one spectator. “Dale Senior will never die! Woo! Woooooooooooooooo yeah!”

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