Astrinda Nilasastri Iswalono(1*)

(1) Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta
(*) Corresponding Author


Written by young Reagan, Life is a poem with a distinctive discourse as a literary work in the beginning of American modernism. The study of Life in the present article focuses on the interpretation of “we” and is contextualized within the historical narratives of the Puritans and the spirit of American Dream in the 20s. The analysis of the poem’s representations of the symbolic, the imaginary, and the Truth presented here is a Žižekian reading of the subjects “we” in the poem’s text who appear to get themselves into a pseudo activity in relation to the narratives of the Founding Fathers as the chosen ones in the holy journey of establishing America. The speaker of the poem, which is part of “we,” reflects the spirit of American Dream and reminds his fellow Americans to keep going amidst the feeling of alienation caused by the modern capitalism that is expressed by words “suffer”, “struggle”, “weep”, “drench”, “break”, “jade”, “sorrow”, “warp” and “pain” 15 times in only 8 stanzas/32 lines. The speaker’s sense of Americanism becomes the only Truth for the “we” until they grow their own Cynical Awareness.


Subjects “we”, American Dream, pseudo activity, Cynical Distance, Žižek

Full Text:



Cullen, J. (2003). The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Foerster, N. (1980). Image of America: Our Literature from Puritanism to the Space Age. Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. Retrieved from

Jones, J., & Rowland, R. (2015). Redefining the Proper of Government: Ultimate Definition in Reagan’s First Inaugural. Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 18(4), 691–718.

Karim, A., & Butt, N. (2011). Creativity, Psychoanalysis, and Eugene O’Neill’s Creative Process. K@ta, 13(2), 236–248.

Komlos, J. (2019). Reaganomics: A Watershed Moment on the Road to Trumpism. Economists Voice, 16(1).

Marx, K. (1976). Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1. Penguin Books.

O’Callaghan, B. (2004). An Illustrated History of the USA. England: Longman.

Tyson, L. (2006). Critical theory today: A user-friendly guide. Newyork: Routledge.

Washburn, W. (1975). The Indian in American. United States: Harpercollins College Div.

Weeks, E. J. (2004). From Reaganomics to Ebonics: The Urban Cultural Dissonance of Hip-Hop. United States: University of Utah.

Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2011). The Enduring Myth of the American Dream: Mobility, Marginalization, and Hope. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behaviour, 14(2).

Žižek, S. (2008). Violence. United States: Picador.

Žižek, S. (2009). The Plague of Fantasies. London: Verso.

Žižek, S. (2011). How to Read Lacan. London: Granta Books Inc.

Žižek, S. (2014, March). The Poetic Torture-House of Language. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved from


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 1360 | views : 679


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Poetika: Jurnal Ilmu Sastra

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

ISSN 2503-4642 (online) | 2338-5383 (print)
Copyright © 2022 Poetika under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

free web stats View My Stats