America has identified itself as an open space with no external or internal boundaries. It has been a beacon of welcome in the Statue of Liberty (“give me your huddled masses…”), claustrophobically felt the limit set by the Iron Curtain, triumphed with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Unlimited freedom, expansion and hegemony without borders, the American dream of social mobility — the absence or immateriality of the walls make up many reasons for loving America, and many reasons for fearing it.
So, the Trumpian idea of ”making America great again” by closing it with a wall is paradoxical. But it is a paradox that has materialized in reality, with the process to wall off the southern border already begun by the U.S. administration. The four companies that will build it were selected and, in the meantime, also the four prototypes (models) of the wall were chosen, with a key characteristic: to prohibit climbing.
The absence of boundaries that made the world permeable to expansion and American hegemony fell in permeability with respect to the world of an America without hegemony.
Walls and borders always have two faces, they cross in two directions. Jack Kerouac ended the journey on the road breaking the border with Mexico as a Yankee in search of drugs and whores; in the reverse direction, laborers and migrants crossed the Rio Grande and the desert looking for work and wellness.
Trump may have the illusion that the wall will only stop those who rise but will let through those who come down like the Oz wall, and maybe Mexico will not pay the United States back with the same coin; but the wall enters the consciousness, transforms America from a universe into a province. It blankets the sky of imagination, it generates paranoia and fear. In order to feel big, Donald Trump’s America shrinks and goes back in time.