Friday, January 18, 2019


I'm on Twitter and risk my eyes there too often because if I wade through a lot of nonsense, there are valuable insights.  The ones I like the best are the ones with which I agree.  For instance, James Gleick -- a respected science writer -- says:  "Trump is inadvertently sharing more about his dark fantasies than anyone wanted to know."

He is reacting to Daniel Dale, a Toronto journalist, who remarks:  "Experts on human trafficking say Trump’s tales about women being bound, gagged and stuffed in airless vans to be brought in from Mexico do not resemble any reality…"

We're already aware that this big lump of a boy-man gets his information from the most sensational and opportunistic medias.  He posts to Twitter all the time, but I have no fantasies about him reading the comments or responses.  He imagines he is devastatingly powerful and doesn't want interference with that notion.  It's rather clear that Putin has replaced Fred in Trump's mind.  At first Trump didn't know he was owned, even though he's mafia born and bred.  He was a fish not recognizing water.  The moment of truth was probably Helsinki if I'm accurately reading the body language in the photo of the two men emerging from a private frank talk.  Putin grins like the cat that ate the canary, Trump looks like one mauled and chewed little bird.  His shoulders slump, his head hangs.

I've hinted that when Putin is through with Trump, he'll simply rub him out, the way he has so many others, but the truth is that Trump is so obviously a blind child who doesn't realize that Manhattan is neither the Vatican nor Moscow, that his limitations are known to everyone by now:  there will be no need.  He is a weak reed who cannot even deliver on a set-up that should have sent all the marbles into his corner.

So now I wonder whether Putin, like May, is going to be confronted with his limitations and whether disrupting the world order (destroying NATO, for instance) might not throw him into the bonfire of his own vanities.  Once it was all based on the atomic bomb, but now that is a trivial lever in a world where the whole planet is turning against human beings with no button to push, no red emergency phone, no bombers in the air -- just human refusal to see and understand that we're using up all the water, that the ocean is awash with plastic, that the tiny trajectories of our lives are swept away by aeons of cosmic inevitability.  I've never seen any indication that Putin can operate a computer or understand how the internet works.

But Gleick and Dale, almost acting as therapists, have pointed to Trump's own inescapable internal horror films.  The only reason Trump hasn't run screaming mad in the night is that he has a fantasy that he can be a super-hero who socks the threat in the throat -- when in fact he only has a check book and the stupidity of all the people who fail to see it's only a book of IOU's.  I suspect Putin has seen the real horror of life and accepts it as a norm.  No fantasies as protection against the possibilities of a terrible fate.

The only thing more ridiculous than Trump throwing rolls of paper towels at flood victims (so far) was mocking state dinners with a table of fast food flanked by elaborate candleabras.  Reworking his grinning "host" image with the monster from Pan's Labyrinth was very apt, the staring eyes literally in thehands of a child-imagined monster.

This quote is from M.M. Owen in Aeon.  "On the right, there is the attempt to preserve the old tribal markers of people and place, despite them being, at the deepest level, basically imaginary. On the left, identity is framed as at once gravely determined, tying you to entire human histories of either victimhood or guilt – and also so self-determined and infinitely flexible as to be almost meaningless. Whatever your affiliation, we are consumed with thinking about our identity, and everyone is confused."  He's talking about Erikson, who was a fatherless German psychoanalyst who believed that people like Luther or Gandhi were exemplifiers of their time and place. 

So is Trump an exemplification of our times?  (Is Putin the same except in a different place?)  Insurgencies and new dictators abound.  It's possible to make a pretty good case that life is following art is following life is following nightmare is following living horror.  A story that imagined putting children "on ice" in cages would have been considered preposterous until we all saw it on television.  Such stories have made the reports seem preposterous, even as we're looking at them.  The ability of a computer/TV screen to be hoaxed by CGI-altering images has convinced us even more that there is no reality -- not really.  

All of this atrocity and preposterousness can only be dealt with as circus.  Except the circus doesn't normally include real and lethal events (Two children dead so far while incarcerated in the US.  Many more deaths on the way north.  At least one adult forced to return home has been murdered.)

Various challengers say to Trump, "We're killing children!" and his answer is "So does everyone else."  It's a child's morality.  The trouble is it's true. Reformers hope that putting photos of the most desperately starved children on the news will motivate us to do something about it.  It only throws the real story into the Halloween category.  "A warning, some people may find these photos hard to watch" means in reality "call the kids that want to test their thrill-meter once more."  Writers, esp for television shows, are challenged to think up the most ghastly stuff.  How can we not-quite-kill James Bond one more sexual and deviant time?

At least it relieves the boredom.  For a while.  The shine has been off sex for quite a while.  It takes a lot of energy and stagecraft or it's not "real".  Violence is the backup.

No comments: