On Devil Country
At the outset, I would like to proclaim that I love you, dear soul, no matter where you fall culturally or politically. Humanity has given birth to such a vast spectrum of personality, and it seems as though it was written into the background code of reality that we should not all experience this reality the same, but there is no reason why we should not attempt to love one another despite our differences. Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely couth to love your perceived enemies while also continuing to stand for what you believe in.
That being said, chances are relatively high that you will not believe in or agree with at least some of the things contained in this work. There is always the likelihood that you’ll create a level of cognitive dissonance between yourself and the reader when writing about personal experiences that contradict widely held and vehemently guarded opinions. I’d like to be frank with you here, at the outset, and proclaim that I have no emotional investment in whether or not you believe the things I’ve written. It isn’t required of you, and to be quite honest, you should be skeptical. I don’t know if I believe it all myself sometimes.
Before I get too deep into this thing, it may be worth making a few disclaimers. What follows is the story of life in America through the eyes of a wandering millennial wastrel during the tumultuous administrations of both Donald John Trump and Joe Biden, a period of American history that I truly believe will be marveled at for generations to come. It is also a recollection of how I came to write about politics—a choice that single-handedly contributed more stress to this author's life than any other decision I’d ever made. At the same time, this choice eventually led me to spiritual liberation from the self-imposed and socially encouraged confines of hardcore nihilism and atheism.
It is not my intent to ruffle any feathers but I doubt this can be avoided in a world as broken and polarized as the one that we’ve inherited. Regardless, any real writer or artist knows that when the muse directs you, you must either act on that supernatural direction or learn to heal your shame. It is not my intent to start a debate nor to convince anyone of anything they don’t already comfortably believe. Rather, it is my desire to produce a form of highly personal art that I can only hope others will at least find entertaining, if not informative.
At its core, Devil Country is the abstract recount of life in the United States of America in a time when the rare glimpses of truth were harder to believe than the wildest fiction of the day. I suppose the work at hand should be classified as creative nonfiction; though the people and events contained within are all very real, I have taken creative liberties for the sake of artistic expression, and for the privacy of certain individuals.
I have always experienced a sort of debilitating uneasiness when writing in the first person, which was the primary hurdle for me in coaxing these experiences out from the solitary confinement of my mind and onto the page for public consumption. For so long I’d assumed it would come off as narcissistic to think that anyone would care about my personal experiences, let alone take the time and effort to read about them. Who the hell was I? What qualifications did I have to give my words any sort of weight or importance? Well, as it turned out the only qualifications that I needed to proceed were being a member of the collective human family and possessing the desire to reveal the truth as I had come to understand and experience it. Naturally, some truths are more subjective than others.
Frank Herbert once wrote that “fear is the mind-killer”, and to me, these words ring true throughout all of time and space. I’ve chosen to put my thoughts and experiences into print regardless of how visceral a reaction it might cause in some of my fellow doomed, thoroughly indoctrinated hipsters. Those poor individuals still suffering from the modern pop-culture cult-of-personality mind virus curated for us by the entertainment industrial complex, tax-exempt foundations, and billionaire-funded NGOs. There are those who will instinctually pigeonhole the point of view that nature has provided me, and that is ok. We are all human, and subject to human error, especially when it comes to judging one another. I have found forgiveness to be the most effective prescription in treating the distortions between us, so think what you will, I’ll love you regardless.
It’s a hot, sticky night here in the quiet hills of northern Georgia, the perfect conditions to squeeze out some texts and flirt with my shadow. We all have our own homemade devils, doing the macarena in our hearts and minds, and America itself is no different. If we can forgive one another then it only stands to reason we can forgive whatever disdain we harbor toward the country we inhabit. They say forgiveness leads to healing, and this great nation desperately needs to heal. I can only hope that this book will help to facilitate that in some way.
-Ryan DeLarme, 2023