Look here

I’m fighting the impulse that people–a vast majority of people by my humble reckoning–are not capable of deciding what is in their best interest.  Maybe my attitude is a product of the twenty-four-hour-cable-news-cycle-pandemic that’s currently infecting anyone with the remotest interest in current events.  It’s the most likely explanation really.  But perhaps it’s a sensation that’s always been there in my psyche, hanging-out around the corner from the joint where my favorite brand of socialism set-up shop all those years back, waiting for the exact moment to round the bend and pull a knife on my conscious mind as it unexpectedly happens by.

I bring it up (of course) because of politics and the current state of the world.  I watched over the weekend as political operatives from left and right retreated to the safety of their respective corners over Trump’s latest idiocy and attempted to rain hell-fire and brimstone down on the the opposing encampment who were just as dug in and feeling just as fiery.  Neither side changed anyone’s mind on the other side though because the two sides live in completely different realities.  

The brilliance of Trump is *not* that he’s the greatest showman, or a master negotiator or any of the other titles he’s self-bestowed.  Trump’s brilliance lies in his ability to infiltrate the exact moment where our conscious mind is going to make the decision as to whether or no something is factually true or not and in the case of the ill-informed or angry or just plain stupid, convince them of an alternative truth.  That’s to say he’s figured out how to abuse the fictions we have collectively created as a species–our single largest asset and the ability which has allowed us to conquer the world–and turn it against those who lack the capacity to understand what is happening, tricking them into doing things that are not even remotely in their own self interest.  

Human’s rule the world because we were blessed with imagination.  It’s our gift to the universe.  The fictions that we have created includes but is not limited to, all religions, all monetary systems, all boarders and all educational pursuits.  

We made all of that shit up.  It wasn’t there and then we dreamt it up and it was there.

Even if you believe in some fire and brimstone God, or maybe the Geco-esque God of capitalistic Greed is more your speed, all of those ideals were penned by human hands–not a single omniscient being was present in the writing of any of our religious, geo-political or social doctrines.  We invented the constitution and liberalism and Twinkies and Canada.  We just pulled this shit literally out of thin air.  It wasn’t ordained by God and willed into being.  There wasn’t a lightning-bolt with the old testament duct-taped to it.  

Nope.  Some people sat down, came up with an idea, got enough people to believe in that idea so that it was no longer cult and then people started believing in Jesus, or Nazism, or dollars or the internet.  We fucking invented duct-tape just like we fucking invented the old testament. It’s obviously not as simple as that on many levels but at it’s core, our fictions become “real” to us not when they are birthed into our conscious minds but rather when we tell other people about our ideas and enough other people start to believe them to be truths that they stop being cult and become real.  Real like Fox news or taxes.    

And there’s the tie-in to Trump.  With the advent of the internet, the way that we as a species consume communication requires no work anymore.  It’s not as though we need to read textbook to establish the reasoning behind what the conclusion is.  We just scarf down the Apple News headline and don’t bother to even read the supporting text.  We’re not even reading cliff-notes regarding the communications we ingest in our daily lives.  If we did we would understand the amount of actual data which is being discarded when we read a headline about the latest, horrible, batshit crazy thing that some un-woke, moron did.  We would have done the required reading and thereby we could understand the importance (or lack of thereof) in every word presented to us, or in every podcast diatribe we listen to, or in whatever talking points that expert panelist is espousing when their message reaches our brain for processing in that critical moment where we decide whether or not something is true and real.

Also with the switch from a handful of news sources which would pick through the stories which are deemed important enough to pass-along to the general populous, fact-checked, stripped-down and retransmitted for mass-consumption,  to a system of notification headlines Twitter and Facebook where anyone can break any story and it can reach millions with no vetting, zero fact-checking and with most-likely dubvious intent, we have turned our greatest strength into a high-capacity magazine, fully-loaded, semi-automatic AR15 which we’ve turned on ourselves while repeatedly pulling the trigger.

This is what Donald Trump has figured out.  If you reach enough of the right kinds of people–the people who don’t take the time to understand context.  The kind of people who don’t have the capacity or the openness of mind or strength of conviction to admit freely that they don’t fully understand something.   The kind of people who feel wronged by the world, people who have had a hard life.  If you can find and reach enough of these people and tell them a story–a really great bit of fiction that is easy for them to believe–maybe one that makes them feel better about themselves or the situation they are in or the people they dislike or the world that we live in–and enough of those people come to believe that fiction, well, then by virtue of being human that fiction becomes real and far more malevolent than the constitution and liberalism and Twinkies and Canada.  

The sad truth is that Trump’s truths are easier to swallow for a huge portion of Americans.  They make more sense and like I pointed out in another literary excursion, the only thing authoritarians ask for in return, is blind loyalty and if you lack the understanding of what is really happening, loyalty costs you nothing.  So he becomes their guy!  They’re with him all the way!  MAGA MAGA MAGA!  The hats go on, the chants get louder, his words are their truth!  Look at the crowd sizes and they all believe.

From 30,000 feet we can see what’s happening.  He’s a two-bit carnie who says “look here” and all the suckers look and swear that the ball is under the middle shell when there never was a ball to begin with–the trick was getting 61,943,670 suckers to believe he was actually playing the game to begin with.  They provide him and each other with all the truth they all need.  They willed and birthed Trumpian fictions from lies into truths.  

“Look Here” shot on my Mamiya6MF on Kodak Tri-X film at 1600, processed at the Icon.  

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