Of course one’s sense of identification with the nation is inflected by all kinds of particulars, including one’s class, race, gender, and sexual identification. … But [regarding] national character …, aside from references to a national aesthetic — literary, musical, and choreographic, there are two poles I reference: minimalist and maximalist. I love them both — the cryptic poems of Emily Dickinson folded up in tiny packets and hidden away in a box, the sparse, understated choreographies of Merce; but also the “trashy, profane and obscene” poems of Whitman and Ginsberg, [and] Martha Graham’s expressionism. I am, myself, a minimalist. But I love distortion guitar and the wild exhibitionism of so many American artists. Also, these divisions are false. Emily Dickinson, in fact, can be as trashy and obscene as the best of them! Anyway, Dickinson and Whitman are at the heart of this narrative. They are the Dancing Queen and the Guitar Hero.