Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Existential Expansion

August 10, 2017

Styriaxis

(making your life more difficult to justify complaining about it)

Donald Trump cat 

 

I have been writing poems about made up words posted on the Internet from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig.  When my friend, Donn Trenton, heard this, he sent me the above word among others he has invented.  Serendipitously, the word ‘Styriaxis’ has provided the bit of grit needed for my oyster like mind to shape a pearl around – one whose nacreous layers of meaning have been searching many years for a nidus around which to condense and harden.   (Beautifully, I hope.)

Styriaxis is a word which describes a process of existential enlargement.  Styriaxis defines a method or an intellectual ‘machine’ for creating an expanding world of complaint.  It is an idea, embodied in a word, whose actions, be they beneficial or not, create a larger and larger playing field for a further action, which would be ‘to complain’.  There are many words like this, and not just words but aggregations of meaning which act the same, which have been fascinating me for some time.  They are thoughts which perform as generators of existence.

For example, take the county/folk singer John Denver.  He sings in a lovely, clear, tenor voice about love and other matters of a mostly lyrical nature in verses that are general positive and suffused with warm feeling for the modest life.  But, especially on his Christmas album, the ringing clarity of his voice has the chiming of a struck bell.  There is a profound hollowness, an expanding emptiness within each note.  This expanding emptiness is covered over by the warm and good wishes of his lyrics as best they are able.  Nevertheless, we hear and feel it.  The hollowness of his vocal clarity creates a demand for the warm embracing quality of his songs.  The two qualities thrive and expand each other.

And it would seem a lot of popular art has incorporated this self-expanding mechanism.  As another example, take a simple black box theater where the performance takes place under the klieg lights against a black backdrop.  Visually, we are seeing existence portrayed against nihility.  The nihility demands life.  And the life is dramatized by the nihility is skates across.  Put together, the two are an emotional machine for generating and capturing audience interest.  Their synergy is compelling.

Most of art criticism, to my mind, is of the surface exhibition and not enough of the nihilism which underscores it.  I would think that the artistic evocation of this nihilism would be as important a contributor to the total power of the aesthetic experience (and perhaps moreso) that the surface exhibition itself.  As examples of artists who might excel at the creation of the nihilism of the background and who are balanced otherwise, I would suggest the sculptor Giacometti and the playwright Beckett.  (Though here, I would have to say, my thinking remains ‘unfinished’.)

 

Which brings me to politics.  These ‘existential generators’ do not exist I think only in the art world.  I would hypothesize that they are everywhere, and perhaps more are being created as we speak.  In fact, perhaps these ‘existential generators’ are the precursors of our conscious existence.  Perhaps they create the stage on which we play out our lives.  Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.  But they certainly exist in politics.

Reality is like a rock; it neither knows that we exist nor that it exists.  (Okay, this is my guess.)  A rock pretty well describes the nihilistic backdrop to all life as described by a materialist.  If we were to compare Socialism to a John Denver song, the materialism of their outlook would be the ringing silver bell of his voice.   Socialistic dogma would be the warm suffusing lyrical melody and lyrics.  “Isn’t it lovely to think so,” as one of Hemingway’s characters once said of another character’s hopes near the final page of “The Sun Also Rises” – a finally bleak, barren narrative.  The blindness of the lyrics to the realities of the sound leads to bad outcomes – which in turn accentuate the nihilism of the background demanding an accentuating of the foreground, and vice versa, ad nauseum.  The existential expansion occurs.  Socialism can generate its own popularity.  So can a Hemingway tale.  So can a John Denver song.  So can Donald Trump.

Contrast socialism with capitalism and free markets, whose goal is to fulfill the need.  By fulfilling needs, the free market decreases the volume of the nihilism or the vividness of reality, and in turn requires less of itself.  It is a machine which naturally disintegrates audience.  It is a machine which gradually begins to look unnecessary.  Humans are problem solving creatures.  Left without problems to solve they suffer cultural collapse.  Socialism creates problems and brings about cultural hardening.  Free enterprise eliminates problems and creates cultural softening.  This pretty much brings us to the political state we are in today.

The genius of Donald Trump’s nature is that it reverses the background and foreground.  His foreground is the authoritarian, ignorant, undisciplined, bellicose, impolitic and bullying personality which forms the background of the Socialist aesthetic.  His antics – narcissistic as a rock – absolutely rivet his opposition’s attention.  Meanwhile, his background employs the capitalistic/business principles he wishes to advance and in which his backers believe – and which actually does make things better.  Trump’s existential expansion wraps up Socialism’s  existential expansion in bravura antics and twitter feeds.  His paper wraps their rock – and gains him the election.  His capitalistic/business principles will cap his administration’s successes.  My take.

If you enjoyed this post, you may try more of Carl Nelson found here:  http://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html

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American Home Life

August 17, 2016

Home life

A Modest Lack of Proposal

 

It’s harder to imagine Hillary Clinton not running for President than her candidacy.  She pretty much outlines the nature of a ruthless political animal in the current political age, where one’s accomplishments for office are that you have held a previous office – or a relationship to that office, and your ‘vision’ is whatever triangulates for a plurality of the Electoral College.

But in trying to imagine Donald Trump as an actual candidate for President, it’s hard to quell the fear of having landed in a parallel universe.  The idea of ‘the Donald’s’ candidacy is preposterous, and the performance outlandish.  But the result is success.  Where has this creature come from?

 

I would propose that ‘the Donald’ has been living here among us the whole time.  He or she comes home from work every day.  He or she sleeps in the same bed and we share the same bathrooms.  And when possible, we eat at the same tables and discuss the same budget.

For his supporters, I would propose that ‘the Donald’ represents the owner, the boss, the division manager, who has defined how success looks and acts.  For ‘the Donald’s’ detractors – who would claim the Blue States and who pride themselves upon their moral conscience, their educational degrees, their better salaries and their higher intelligence, status and overall enlightenment  – I would propose that ‘the Donald’ is representative of the crude atavistic impulses – their ‘second natures’ which have propelled them there.  That is, that Donald also represents for them the owner, the boss, the division manager, and the hoary roots of the upwardly mobile – which they deny to see in the mirror each day.

 

Ideally, the reason we head off to work each day is to earn a living and to realize our abilities in a way that contributes to our society and our own development.  This is a good start.  But when one does get to work, one find that modern products are quite complex.  A lot of tasks need doing to create these products, get them to market and sell them.  Our ideal person doesn’t necessarily command their ideal job.  And their ideal portfolio/resume doesn’t necessarily land them this ideal job.  What lands them this job is what I would call their “job charisma”.

Charisma has been at least partly defined by sociologists as the judgment by others of the number of people who would bend to your opinion or bow to your lead.  Whoever is in a position to place our candidate is looking for that person who can lead a project to success, whether it be a simple, one person task, or a complex, highly technical collaboration of unusual minds.  In other words, what entices an employer to grant you the job opportunity you would like is their judgment of your leadership ability in this particular area.

For this reason, (and I suppose many others), being the leader is a very sought after position.  Corporations, the military and Ivy League schools all scour the landscape for the newest crop of leaders with which to fill their ranks.  A body of leaders would seem to be most effective and lead the organization to greater success.  In turn, the candidates all try to present themselves as leaders.  Leaders get to do what they want.

 

What does leadership, and in some sense popularity, entail?  Leaders generally share the same personal qualities of us all.  We can empathize and be charmed by them.  They can be generous, humorous, good natured, and warm.  But the character of a leader is defined by their priorities.  A leader might be all those things as you or I, and perhaps be even better endowed with any of these qualities than you or I, including charity and selflessness.  But what defines their (and our) character are priorities.

For example, many sales firms subject their job candidates to a personality inventory.  They are looking for candidates who like people, who enjoy understanding people, and who like bonding with people.  This would mark their category of say, ‘relatedness’.  Another category would be an assessment of the candidates’ desire for achievement.  Are they extremely competitive?  A good sales person would be that person whose ‘Achievement’ priority is higher than their ‘Relational’ priority.  This makes the difference between the employee who loves to chat with clients, and the employee who enjoys the time spent but also is always looking for that way to ‘close the deal’, to retail the relationship.  It’s the difference between making a lot of friends and making a lot of sales.

 

When he or she heads out of the home to their employment, their success in the outer world will depend in a large part on their ability to project leadership.  But in its barest essentials, leadership can appear grotesque – even monstrous.  No one in a sales firm would want for the common public to witness their in-house activities or be a fly on the wall of their in-house culture.  The bosses are extremely aggressive.  They are extremely competitive.  They do not countenance insubordination.  They make extreme demands.  They do not admit to being wrong in any significant sense.  And at the furthest end of the spectrum, they define what is true and what is false.  What is true is what they say is true.  What is false is what they say is false.  These two things can do a switcheroo at any time.  The question most pressed upon every employee is whether they “embrace the company vision” and whether they are “personally invested”.  Anything short of this is treasonous.

To survive and thrive in these environments, the culture must become second nature.   You must react, just like in competitive athletics, without thinking of these basic tenets:  You always put on the pleasant face.  You never surrender your standing.  If someone professes to know something you do not, and you cannot top them, then you ignore them or change the narrative.  You do not wander into areas where you might be vulnerable, or which are populated by the vulnerable – for example, in the business world it would be the ‘arts’ or poetry.  You aggressively limit the conversation to your strong areas.  You aggressively control the narrative, while loyally parroting the narrative of your superior.  You must worship the hierarchy.  Those above you, you listen to.  Those below, you patronize.  Your equals, you compete with.  If the boss says something which immediately contradicts what they’d said before – it doesn’t matter.  The best you can ask for is ‘clarification’.  But don’t ask more than once.  Otherwise they might not think that it is because the thought behind it is too difficult or requires remedial explanation.  If you ask more than once, they’ll either flirt with the idea of you being either insubordinate or a dullard.

Donald Trump is the public embodiment in probably its most pure form to date of all these strategies.

 

A problem arises when these employees return home.  What has become second nature is not left at the office.  If a mate suggests a failure, they either ignore it, or demean the origin.  They don’t admit to contradictions.  They assume leadership in all areas.   If it isn’t granted, they stand in the midst of the activity until it grinds to a halt without their direction.   They ask, delegate and command without a thought.  It has become their way of conversing.  They do the deciding.  They establish whatever conversation they will listen to.  They drive the narrative towards the result they want.  They retail affection.  They accept generosity as their due, and try to tweak it for a little more.  Eventually, the goal of our employee’s second nature is to make everyone of the household an employee of their personal brand, a helper towards their achievement.  It easily happens that the second nature strategy of outside occupations becomes a family tradition and a root nature of the family in a way that travels down generations.

This whole scenario can become toxic to the family and even lethal to its members.  Once a mate or family member decides to “be all they can be”, it becomes a race to see who can love each other the least, (all the while claiming the opposite).  As Donald Trump himself remarked about his older brother Freddy, an airline pilot with a fun-loving nature, who died as an alcoholic at the age of 43.  “For me, it worked very well,” Mr. Trump is quoted as saying in the New York Times.   “For Fred, it wasn’t something that was going to work.” … ‘The Donald’ ended by saying, ““He’s like the opposite of me.”

To see all of Carl Nelson’s published work, (plus that of others), visit: http://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html

March 29, 2016

Black Lives Matter2

“Black Lives Matter”

There is very little news, but an awful lot of politics.

 Most people, when they are looking for a safe neighborhood to live, don’t visit the local police station.  They do not check out the operational state of the police motor fleet or their effective fire power, nor even research the level of officer training, minority representation, nor their level of community representation, nor the sheer number of officers on the street.  They do not travel to city hall for a run down on the applicable laws in place so that the neighborhoods behave and whether Federal Law might come into play.  If they inquire, it’s about tax and sewer rates, and proximity to good schools and medical aid.  When normal people judge the safety and desirability of a neighborhood, they do so by going there and looking around.  The laws in Ferguson are pretty much the same laws as in Pocatello or in Buffalo.  And if you see a lot of police activity or bars on the window or pit bulls inside of cyclone fences, you don’t want to be there.  And if you don’t see an active police presence and the homes and the lawns are kept with pride, the fences are picket, and a lot of idle groups of young males aren’t giving you the eyeball, it’s more than likely a good spot.

However, when there is a ‘newsworthy’ problem, reporters generally do just the opposite.  They interview the police, city hall, victims and onlookers, and sometimes either the victim or the perpetrator’s neighbors.  Then they interview the experts.  Until finally we get to the talking heads and the national pundits, if the level of interest should climb so high.  Eventually the politicians chime in.  Because in the final analysis the news is showing us the politics of what is going on: claim and counter-claim, heading into to the jury trial.

In short, a lot of the news is not the news of what it purports to be.  The average Joe, given a brief glimpse of the situation, could often deduce that there is no news here, that things are pretty much as they would expect and move along.  They could resolve the issue just about as quickly as they could decide whether to move to the neighborhood.  And that would probably be a big, “No”.

It would seem that nowadays most of the news is politics.  The facts themselves are shared, only in so much as they would affect the public temper.  And depending upon the particular tenor of the media source, these facts are revealed either sooner or later – or not at all.

So herein lies the disconnect.

The signs say, “Black Lives Matter”, but the visuals say, not so much to us (the majority) – “what with the way they dress, the way they act, the way they talk and the arguments they pitch”. Angry  pundits say the police are “out of control”.  But the more complacent visuals say, “I’d hate to patrol this place” and moreover, “How can they find people to do it?”

Best move along.

What is interesting about the ‘news’ nowadays is that with the advent of the internet search engines, we can actually see how the ‘news’ is assembled.  There has been talk in the media of how the internet has fractured the ‘news’ into slivers of self-referential fiefdoms with each audience ‘bubble’ opting to hear what is most comfortable.  What is also interesting, I would say, is that we can now see what the ‘news’ is and how the narrative has been assembled.

Many years ago I added some Adobe movie software.  Afterwards I found that some other Adobe software wouldn’t work, though I hadn’t connected the two issues.  So I went to the Adobe help link to find why my software had these problems.  The offered help was not helpful.  But Adobe said on the link that if the offered help was not sufficient, that for a certain price/hour you could talk to a technician for further assistance.  This seemed like buying a pig in a poke.  So instead I Googled my problem using a quotation technique offered me by a friend.  Soon, the nasty underbelly of the software industry was revealed!  Here I found that the very problem Adobe was going to charge me to help fix, was a problem the new addition of their software program had caused and that they very well knew this, but weren’t saying.  I was astonished!

Flash forward to our current conversation:

A narrative is created in one prejudiced ‘news’ agency, which is countered by facts from another prejudiced ‘news’ agency, so that these later facts must now be incorporated into the narrative of the first.  We can see the ongoing battle for narrative that occurs throughout the life of a news ‘story’ displayed on the internet right before our eyes.

We can now witness what the ‘news’ is, and how it is assembled from a meticulously controlled release and spin of information.  But, we are forced to do at least twice the research and reading to discern some truth.

There are other complications.  As the news entities become more polarized so do they attract more prejudicial, polarized readers.  This in turn allows these more advocating journals leeway to spin and to slant their information – all the way to downright fabrication and lying.  This leaves the discerning reader in a quandary.  As the poles of advocacy journalism and their chosen audiences separate further, it can happen that the polarities become so estranged as to ignore one another.  And a discerning reader can wonder whether they aren’t reading a story published in two separate parallel universes.  There is less and less of the common tale to compare!  What to do?

Keeping up on the news has gotten a lot harder than opening the newspaper over coffee in the morning with June Cleaver.

Another complication ensues within the competition for audience i.e. market share.  “Life is not fair,” Jimmy Carter re-iterated famously.  Life is rarely balanced.  There is usually a winner and a loser.  Such is the case with the media.  Currently the liberal sources dominate.  Studies of the political bent of journalists shows that the liberal majority of them vastly outnumber the conservative.  A liberal slant controls the news, which in turn controls the narrative.

This, in turn, has created oppositional sources such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh etc. which are not sources in themselves, but doppelgangers to the dominant established media.  That is, they exist as an oppositional slate of faux conservatism which respond like zombies to the established liberal narrative.  (And to my mind, perform about as graciously also.)  These faux sources have no ‘being’ in themselves other than opposition.  (“Only a head shot will take them down.”)  They are exactly such ‘obstructionists’ as the liberal media intended.  In a sense, the prejudices of the dominant media create ‘hate-groups’, of which Donald Trump is the most recent conjuration.

The authentic conservative sources currently fight as an insurgency.  Their position is described in weekly periodicals, such as “Commentary”, “First Things”, “The New Criterion”, “The National Review”, books, and think tank publications such as “Cato” and “The Discovery Institute”.  But fighting from these rag tag positions, it is almost impossible for them to influence the narrative.

So.  Sadly…

With this current election cycle we are determining which side of the progressive/liberal narrative we chose to follow.  Their direction, however, is the same.  This election is like a dysfunctional family.  You can chose to align yourself with either the mom or the dad.  But it’s still the same screwed-up clan.

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March 6, 2016

MSNBC

It Is Very Dangerous to Control the Conversation

 About Donald Trump.  Plainly, a large portion of the electorate want a different conversation than is currently offered, and this matter would seem to ‘Trump’ all other considerations in their selection of a political candidate.  Do they care that Trump swaggers with braggadocio, insults candidates and citizens?  Apparently not.  Do they care that he makes outrageous claims?  “I will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.”  Apparently not.  Do they care that he seems to have done little or no homework regarding the job he is applying for?  “I will cut the Medicare budget by 300 billion.”  (When the Medicare budget is only 78 billion?)  Apparently not.  His approval numbers just keep climbing.  What is going on?

The people I’ve seen voicing support for Trump seem intelligent enough, look to be running their own lives successfully, and give no signs of mental instability… aside from polarizing a conversation very rapidly.

It seems a large portion of Trump’s support has materialized out of a disparate electorate as if precipitating from a clear American solution.  Or at least from the clear solution as it has been presented to us by the dominant media and cultural outlets: a Progressive rainbow coalition of answers which are relayed to us as having no serious contenders – that are not ‘beyond the pale’ of accepted thinking.  And yet, all of a sudden, all this collective animus?

Conservative thought would seem to have made no inroads in breaking the Progressive grasp of our politics and culture.  The universities are increasing learning institutions devoid of Republicans, as are the Arts.  The press is near wholly in the grip of the Democratic Party.  The few bastions of vocal resistance, like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s Talk Radio, are more demonic Id dominated doppelgangers of a Leftist psychological condition than original entities.  Small periodicals, think tanks, editorial boards in the fly-over states and the Wall Street Journal still produce reasoned, considered and temperate conservative argument.  But they garner little traction in the national conversation.  And the Church, possibly the most conservative of all institutions, is on its heels from attacks on all sides.  Sometimes I wonder if the Church itself doesn’t wonder if God hasn’t “left the building”.  Current conservative reasonableness has been given the brush off in the media so many times that it has the traction, in the public’s mental landscape, of a fly.

It’s been said that Donald Trump represents the current American Id.  I’d say that’s a fair assessment.  Trumps platform wants what it wants when it wants it and that may change on a moment’s notice which makes no difference if Donald says so…  I would take that to be a reasonable assessment of the basic Trump position.

The overweening objective among political strategists in these post-modern times has been to “control the conversation”.  The Left has been extremely successful at this.  And I would hazard that this is a very dangerous thing to do.  When you deny reasonable disagreement at the table, what you reap is unreasonable disagreement from off the table.  The Left is very good at summoning creatures like Trump, whose outrageous nature is to make the Left look like the reasonable party.  Getting these summoned demons back into the box can be a lot harder.  And when they appear, they injure us all.

My advice.  Pull back from these extremes.  We need a Conservative/Liberal coalition which will restore reason to the national conversation.  Conservatives and Liberals are like man and wife.  When behaving properly they can become the best friend they will ever have, and more productive than either alone.

When politicians demonstrate great respect for their opponents’ positions, personas such as Donald Trump will dissipate like the smoky huffing apparitions they are.

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