Wednesday, January 24, 2018

All is Said But Not Done

     Earlier this month, I'd written a post trying to explain why I had brain freeze and found myself saying the same things over and over again about this shit show of an administration. I discovered it was getting increasingly difficult, if not outright impossible, to continue writing commentary about said shit show. I began to suspect I was losing my mojo. Perhaps I wasn't looking hard enough. Between September and December last year, I'd drafted a complete novel and a week later this month had begun another. Perhaps my mind was divided, I thought. But bifurcation isn't an excuse considering since I'd begun blogging almost exactly 13 years ago and had written by my estimate over 4000 posts totaling at least a couple of million words, I'd written or finished four novels of 130,000 words or more and another of 117,000 words. I'd started about two dozen others.
     So, it wasn't that. And then I realized something today- Everything we ever needed to know about Donald Trump we already knew during the campaign. From the day he rode down that escalator like a bored mall husband then started talking about the wall to the lackadaisical and glacial pace of the transition team, we'd had already known all about Donald Trump and what he stands for well before Inauguration Day. All he's done is confirm what we knew or suspected.
     So why are we so obsessed with him? Even though tens of millions still stubbornly refer to him as the president, the amount of press he gets exceeds even that of his most recent predecessors. And Trump is in a unique position to both deliver policy and be the official conduit of the fake news that he keeps spewing forth. Through his Twitter account, the army of journalists and bloggers who follow his every move, Trump is uniquely positioned to, through his very physical and online presence, reshape reality, logic and mathematics itself moreso than any of his predecessors. In short, Trump is radically altering the ontology of the United States,
     And since those of us in the reality-based community know Donald Trump is a lying, furtive, tax and draft dodging, womanizing psychopathic racist, the only things we have to write about is the fallout of a man who'd elevated identity politics to monstrous proportions (It was identity all along, as the man has proven time and again he has no policy positions rooted in pragmatism, reality or even basic human compassion).
     While President Obama maintains a Twitter following of an even 100,000,000, Trump tells his 47,000,000 followers (over half of which are as fake as his first campaign crowd in Trump Tower in mid June 2015) what he feels he needs them to hear and, of course, 99.99% are lies, innuendo and bullshit. But the feedback and efficacy that Obama had enjoyed is dwarfed by that which Trump gets. Any truth that emerges from Trump are Freudian slips that it's up to the rest of us to decode and follow to its logical conclusion. And we're waiting for the shit show's glorious or inglorious conclusion, an amorality play that never seems to end.

     Two and a half years ago, while researching a novella I was about to write, I'd learned about a train crash that had occurred in Crush, Texas on September 15, 1896. It wasn't an accident but a staged train crash that was thought up by an executive of the Katy Railroad, the aptly-named William George Crush. After putting the two trains on a nationwide tour, one painted red and one green, Crush had incorporated Crush, Texas for one day, immediately making Crush the second-biggest city in the Lone Star State.
     People were given free train tickets so they could travel to the ostensibly controlled carnage of two trains colliding with each other, each traveling at a speed of 45 miles per hour. Then the big day came. Scott Joplin himself had been commissioned by the Katy to write a song commemorating the event, the "Great Crush Collision March." Every one of the 40,000 in attendance knew what to expect. Or they thought they knew.
     Because seconds after the collision, debris rocketed out of the train wreck at supersonic speed. Both boilers on the trains exploded and two or three people were reported killed. Mortified, the railroad fired Crush until they realized that, despite the heavy hype and publicity in advance of the crash, fewer newspapers than expected had reported on the carnage. In a telling move smacking of corporate privilege, the Katy had rehired Crush the very next day.
     This is what we're waiting for. Aside from the millions who still support Trump no matter what he says and does as long as his murderous and ruinous policies are enacted, we envisioned the train wreck that would result from Trump's election. Humans have always been attracted to destruction on a large scale. We watched in awe as the first fruits of the Manhattan Project sent up mushroom cloud after mushroom cloud, then gawked at the even larger mushroom clouds that resulted from the first H bombs. We marveled at the scope, scale and destruction of the Twin Towers and Pentagon being hit and, again, when the Twin Towers and WTC 7 inexplicably fell. There was an element of horror, yes, but also a sense of wonder that we would be privileged to see so much destruction on such a large scale.
     This is why humans have to look at train wrecks that they know will happen. In that respect, we have not changed one bit as a species since our ancestors in 1896. Creation, while often a beautiful thing, is always on a smaller scale or too incremental to hold our increasingly beleaguered attention. Destruction, as is the wont of that selfsame species, can be offered on a much more massive scale. We're drawn to it like moths to a flame.
     This is why we watch Trump so obsessively, record every move this lumbering oaf makes. It's not because he's so fascinating. Trump is bottomlessly superficial, a man living in an ever expanding inner universe where the population always stands at one. We've run out of things to say about him because there is nothing new about him that can be said save for what had gotten chucked into the memory hole.
     We all know Trump cannot last four years or even two because, to quote Yeats, the center cannot hold, especially if there is no center. We're all figuratively eating our peanuts and popcorn and wondering, as we watch this sick, doddering, crazy old man shamble from golf course to golf course, if this will finally be the day.


At January 26, 2018 at 4:54 PM, Blogger Stan B. said...

As you alluded to, it's not so much Trump (there's simply not much there). It's waking up each and every day, hoping for the inevitable- the blessed, long anticipated day of implosion...


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