Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Donald J. Trump: Postmodern President

Practical men who believe themselves to be quite
exempt from any intellectual influence,
are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air,
are distilling their frenzy from some academic
scribbler of a few years back.  John Maynard Keynes

What can be thought must certainly be a fiction. — F. Nietzsche,
The Will to Power (1901) , quoted in 
Frank Kermode's The Sense of an Ending  (1965)

David Lehman paraphrases [Jacques Derrida, 1966 f. …]  with,
"Nothing exists ahead of language or outside it;
there are no things or ideas except in words."
Alternatively put, "Il n'y a rien hors du texte,"
which Andreas Huyssen renders [possibly maliciously]
"there is nothing outside the text."Richard D. Erlich

 “But it is very difficult,” Shan said, “to live without the notion
that there is, somewhere, if one could just find it, a fact.”
 “Only fiction,” said Forest, unrelenting. “Fact is one of our finest fictions.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin,  “Dancing to Ganam” (1993),
collected A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, 1994.

         Until the late 1990's and Coyote's Song, my book on the works of Ursula K. Le Guin, my one serious foray into the epistemological part of the culture wars — "What is truth?" issues — was published in a very minor and very local anthology, Ambergris 1.2 (1987), a poem called "Andersen (post)Modernized": Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" (1837) tweaked to bring it up to date. My poem was written thirty years ago. Andersen published nearly 180 years ago — and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four appeared some sixty-eight years ago and was celebrated in the real-world year 1984, over thirty years ago.
         The thematic core of Nineteen Eighty-Four includes "the Grand Inquisitor" sequence — the re-education of Winston Smith in the Ministry of Love — and the core of that re-education program is converting Winston Smith to the doctrine, the deep knowledge and conviction, that reality is created in the human mind and therefore controlled by those who control people's minds.
         Add to these the blatant untruths of much advertising and marketing — "Every kiss begins with Kay®" (really?) — our unthinking acceptance of everyday bullshit, and it should be no surprise that we have shambled into a "post-truth" world of hucksterism, epitomized in the candidacy for US President of Donald J. Trump and more so by his Electoral College election.
         I immodestly reprint my poem below, / And mutter with my betters, "Told you so …"

"The Emperor's naked!"
The little boy yelled, 
"Bare-assed, buck, stark, unclothed!"
So they grabbed him up (the earplugged men, silver-eyed)
And threw him into the Official Car,
For quick trip to the Ministry.
Sat him down to discourse philosophical—and prudential.
Let him know
Reality is made between our ears
(While beating him and shocking him
Raping him and breaking him).
Until the Minister came in
To tell him,
"You've done sacrilege
Finding your view privileged"
And stuck a large pistol (a 45) into his little ear
And asked him what now was real,
"Relative to Emperors, sartiorialwise."
And found all monarchs fully clothed
In all Reality that is (or can be)
Inside the head of a little boy
Who's learned how worlds
Get made by human brains and
How guns dress emperors.

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