Writing out the Father: Top Trumps

Why exactly do we need presidents or monarchs? The answer with Donald Trump is easy. Trump is an excuse for our selfish id to let rip. He’s the father figure who says it’s fine and dandy to hate, to bully, to be totally narcissistic, to be that kid in the playground who is never happy. Trump isn’t that unusual. Selfishness and ruthlessness, even bracketed with a veneer of charity work, is often the norm. A number of films and books, such as K-PAX (Iain Softley, 2001), and more recently A Street Cat Named Bob (2016, Roger Spottiswoode), concern absent father figures, focusing on how characters negotiate through this absence to find acceptance. Seeking the father, through politics and religion, is an endless game often of top trumps. We may spend our whole life attempting to win the love of our father but, whether physical or spiritual, this is pointless.

Exterior efforts to ‘win the love’ only brings false consolation. For Freud the origin of all art is sexual, concerned with gaining a partner. What if all acts of evil and selfishness are just attempts to appease and conquer the father, pointlessly playing top trumps. But this is no longer a game, is it? Trump is no joke. Not caring for others, especially the most weak and vulnerable, is an ideology that Trump supporters buy. This is the golden calf half of American voters worship. Is this because, fundamentally, they were never loved enough to care for anything beyond themselves, only seeing themselves as valuable if they trumped others? For Saint Ignatius every word written is a smite against the Devil. So write. And the best writing steps into the shoes of the other, acknowledging the other as deeply as possible. This is the way to truly triumph over and trump Trump.

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