3 Previous Posts on Trump from 2017 & 2016
The Society of the Spectacle (originally posted August 9 2017)
When Guy Debord made films to enable the audience to not be sucked in, leaving long blank silences, he may not have been thinking of Jean Baudrillard’s vision: a blank TV set, due to a strike. Both thinkers have been proven right. The audience is fully controlled by the spectacle. Would we be fascinated with an America v North Korea war, or just switch off? Dystopian visions offer a form of catharsis, and can offer hope. The world seems to have been on the brink since Trump came to power, but prior to his victory the end was predicted by either side should the opposition win. Has there ever been a point in history when the end of the world was not predicted? In the 1960s, when apparently we never had it so good, youth culture was condemned as bringing about Armageddon.
War might be constructed as madness (Lee 1999), but it is often framed as natural, not just a logical reaction but an innately human trait. The need for any form of war, locally, nationally, or internationally, is engrained in the human psyche from birth. Without the other we do not have difference, or an identity. Paradoxically, defeating the other is a defeat of the self. Whether the self exists at all, or should exist, is a larger question. Is this where the problem starts? Within the Buddhist tradition, the self is a false construct, based on a false graspingness. This falseness is fed by capitalism and the society of the spectacle drives the creation of these desires. To say this is natural would be inaccurate. Trump is now seen as creating more problems than he is solving. Inventing this theatre is one way to stay in power. The thought of the emperor without his new clothes may be just too much of a spectacle.
The Criminals In Trump Tower (originally posted November 17 2016)
What’s the connection between Jose Maria Martin, former President of the Brazilian Football Confederation, under house arrest in his apartment; Baby Doc Duvalier, ex-dictator of Haiti; Andrew Lloyd-Webber; Michael Jackson; and Donald Trump? They have all been residents in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Strolling there close to Christmas in 2012, the tower and its stinking wealth was not really part of my consciousness. Buildings come and go, like empires. I came across a black woman who appeared to have extreme mental health problems on the steps of a Catholic church. While the thick snow fell on us, her grey blanket did nothing to combat the freezing temperature, her skeleton face chattering. Inside, the priest was celebrating the life of someone who sounded very heroic and important who had recently gone to heaven, whilst outside it seemed like someone was about to die and not peacefully. Being a tourist with a guilt complex I gave her some money, told her she needed to get inside. Others, with expensive gifts in fancy bags saw but didn’t see. That’s the culture that existed a couple of years ago, and now the epitome of this culture rules. Philip K. Dick in The Man in the High Castle writes of a world where the Nazis have actually won the war; and in some ways they actually have (Lee 2018). But, to repeat myself, empires come and go. Locally, and globally, there is pressure to sit back and let it happen and go with the flow. Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby. This is what those around Michael Jackson did, they just let it happen. This is what those around Donald Trump are doing, worshipping the man in high castle. The question is, how low do we want to go?
Writing Out The Father: Top Trumps (originally posted November 14 2016)
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.