Thursday, January 12, 2017


BBS  1968

Part of the reason Trump horrifies me is not about Trump.  He summons up my father, who had a concussion in a car crash in 1948 and — possibly because of that — became gradually more deranged until a stroke killed him in 1968.  When I say "deranged", I mean he subtly lost his pre-frontal cortex functions: good judgement, contact with reality.  Trump looks like a caricature of him: both have Scots genes.  My father was never comfortable in his skin, was prone to blowing up, and finally subsided into a kind of Parkinsonian reluctance to move or speak.  His birth family refused to acknowledge this.  He was their beloved brother/uncle who made a lot of jokes and knew a lot of parlor magician’s tricks.  

My mother felt responsible for my father’s state and demise.  Also, she felt responsible for world order and whatever else came her way.  Then my father’s brother, who looked much like him and who had been an airline pilot all his life, carefully monitored for health issues, had a bad stroke which made him violent, irrational and suffering.  He also had one of the most competent and elegant wives, whom he began to shove and berate.  My mother breathed a sigh of relief — she concluded it was hereditary, so she was off the hook.

I think Trump has had a stroke or possibly a brain tumor.  We are interpreting him as being morally deficient — scheming, bullying, cheating and so on.  I think his brain is busted.  He's a nut case, to use his level of discourse.  And on some level I feel responsible for not explaining this to the world so they’ll grab him and confine him before he sets off nuclear winter.

Fat chance.

But at least the situation provides me with an illustration of a split in my identity that puts me at odds with my family, my community and with the culture at large.  Let me explain it this way.  Everyone knows about the “fight or flight or freeze” mechanism in brains, the little part evidently in the amygdala that identifies danger.  That isn’t an easy task because looks can deceive.  If one defines oneself as prey, strangeness means get the hell outta there.  If one defines one’s self as a predator, strangeness may mean a new food source, so it’s smart to investigate.  Paralysis only works if one is well-camouflaged.

Trump is a bunny rabbit who thinks he’s a tiger.  Putin and Tillerson are tigers, who assure Trump he’s got the same stripes that they have.  Consult Aesop.  But it’s clear that bunnies inherit money, so don’t need brains.  Tigers are smart and Tillerson is already putting distance between himself and Trump, if one can be said to differ from anyone so incoherent.  At least some senators are also tigers.  Celebrity is a good disguise, until one runs for office.

Here’s an interesting angle.  Trump does not want to sell or otherwise divest his holdings because many of them are simply licenses to use his name, which carries the aura of being smart and glamorous — though most of the glamour is cheap nouveau riche gilt (like the faded imitation European grandeur of Russia) and tall blonde women who’ve had plastic surgery.  In a blind trust, would the Trump name have to come off?  Is the idea of the sons taking over simply a strategy for preserving the Trump name?  If the hotel is renamed “Smith Hotel” or “Nonentity Hotel”, the profit will be lost.  "Trump" is always going to be provocation for giggles.

Trump’s behavior and exposure in this insane bid for the presidency (much aided by Republican sneaking around in the night) has so sullied his own name that owners of hotels, golf courses, et al, are probably even now trying to think of new names.  (I would not suggest Tiger Woods.)  They could at least open negotiations for cheaper licensing fees.  (Also, I would recommend they’d better increase their supply of rubber sheets because, well, “monkey see, monkey do” even if the vids aren’t available yet.)

How about “Carrie Fisher Hotel”?  Here’s an example of someone who can keep a secret for a very long time — just not forever.  (Ask Harrison Ford.)  She fought grandiose self-deception (chemically augmented) all her life — and won.  The value of her memorabilia has already tripled.

Of course, she has the same advantage that I have: the extra leg on the sex chromosome, an X instead of a Y.  I’m hoping that will save me from strokes.  I’m hoping my mother’s genes and epigenes are strong.  At least something impels me to get to the bottom of things, to expand my consciousness to the limits, never to turn away from a challenge. 

Animal control is the most obvious example.  I saw things I never suspected were common in neighborhoods and that I have no wish to see again.  Physical danger, suffering, and vulnerability were everywhere and it was my job to at least report or, better, intervene.  Some of the other officers (all men in the beginning) would find ways to just “not know.”  A few would take action in drastic ways.  (One Vietnam vet simply euthanized any dog he had to catch for the second time.)  But my boss said out loud and in front of everyone that I had “balls.”

The upshot was that when there was a challenge, something horrifying or unresolvable, he sent me.  Usually it was banal and not shocking to a country person, like a dog run over in a way that pressed all its organs out its mouth, preserving their order.  The man who called it in for three days running (no one seemed able to find it) said it was horrifying his wife, not him.  Why he didn’t go out and put it in a garbage bag is a mystery.  So horror can paralyze people.

I went from that to ministry, thinking that it would let me gaze into the abyss perceptively.  Instead, it was the culture’s belief and the ministerial practice to avert their eyes.  They felt the role of Christianity was to “Look at the stars and ignore the gutter.”  Congregations would not tolerate anything but reassurance.  

Ten years of people struggling to control me was enough. They call it “standing on the side of love” but I haven’t been able to keep from laughing at the word “love” since seeing Stephen Colbert’s take down of Trump twittering hatred and signing off with an exaggerated “luuuuuuv!”  The people who think up these easy slogans are naive and limited.  Like the people who block obscene car licenses, they mostly pick up the standard cussing.  (I don't think the UUA will choose yellow t-shirts for their slogan next time.)

The question is always how bad can it get?  Transgressive peeing strikes me as a toddler’s act, hardly sophisticated, not even a Shade of Grey.  Our culture is capable of much worse:

After reading this article, I came to the conclusion that our “entertainment” productions feature far more graphic and more intense images than those being censored from Facebook et al.  They have become the norm.  And yet the population keeps demanding something more extreme, something that will make them feel.  “Watersports” aren’t very extreme.  Nothing like the indecent tortures inflicted on “James Bond”.  Nothing like photos of dead children we see daily. 

But if we can’t be bothered to drum up some concern about conflicts of interest, nepotism, sedition — maybe a little pipi play will get through to some people, because sometimes jokes can penetrate the denial wall.

1 comment:

Chaz said...

"My mother breathed a sigh of relief — she concluded it was hereditary, so she was off the hook." --Love it.

Followed you here from Muder's blog. I'm in Roanoke VA, also a UU. My father grew up in Opheim, where his family moved in 1913 from Nebraska. He's now buried in Hamilton.

Fun comments about UU culture. Yellow t-shirts, yes.

Like your discussion of big T. I actually fully believe the dossier info, based on Greg Laden's posts, link:

It just makes perfect sense. Laden makes a strong argument. But maybe Muder's right.