Friday, February 26, 2021

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations(#22)

The Donald, live and in person, has been absent from the tube till now. It’s rumored he is to appear on Sunday at CPAC, the Republican organization, not to be confused with the CPAP breathing device for sleep apnea, though both items are fused in my mind, given the GOP’s predilections for wearing weird outfits, all suspicious. Trump’s image hasn’t gone away, thanks to the news hounds of media that can’t let him go, and with the help of the slice of Democrats that share the same jones. We Need Our Trump! I don’t need him, but the damage he has done to the republic will live on longer than he, unless he has the life-span genes of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. After Congress impeached Trump again and the Senate, post inauguration, acquitted him once again, and after the January 6th attack on the Capitol has been replayed by various committees, using, largely, the same smart phone videos replayed over and over, the air time Trump shares with President Biden (who Andrea Mitchell and other commentators keep calling Vice President Biden) is about 50-50 thus far. Though redundant – much of the Trump years were duplicates of outrages – the climax was the temporary take down of the Capitol. What a way to end! A TV movie at its worst. But, all of culture has gotten worse, and that trend, unfortunately, did not begin with the Trump Administration. He was the effect, not the cause. None of his Republican enablers ever took his loathsome blabber seriously. He was the fool they would humor as long as he let them do what they wanted. They would tolerate the buffoon, never thinking he could actually unleash the intolerable. But he did so on January 6th. If you ask me, which you haven’t, I would ascribe it to the triumph of the resurrected oral culture, new version, Oral Culture 2. I’ve written about this language topic before, but the violent culmination was Trump’s assembling of the mob – mobs tend to be the epitome of the oral culture. Note the Sermon on the Mount – and then he dispatched the aroused to the Capitol, armed with cudgels, poles and pikes, all Medieval oral culture weapons of war. Alas, I’m not sure that is going to be the last gasp of the new oral culture taking over what passes for culture here at home. People still read, obviously, but it is no longer the wind in the sails of the culture. If I extend this out to the world at large I could quickly become – because of the handy examples I might use – a likely target for all the political correctness and language police on duty. I will admit I favor the literate culture, evidently a passing phenomenon of history, existing from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg, from the printing press to the internet, and its spawn, facebook, twitter, etc, being among the leading transformers. Those practitioners, wealthy as they are, did not invent the internet, they just knew how to exploit it. See John D. Rockefeller. So much woe to contemplate and people continue to drop like flies from Covid-19, also, unfortunately, a large part of the oral culture, letting people breathe together. Pandemics, too, are practically Medieval, flourishing, as they did, in the oral culture world. Perhaps this sort of disease is the apotheosis of the present era. Science, though, is getting a lot of play – at least some – these days and it is fairly literate, though its language is mainly numbers, equations, amounts, chemistry, etc., not Shakespeare, or seeming to favor those who aspire to the written word. On the bright side, so to speak, more mechanical spiders have been sent to outer space, one to land on Mars recently. Terrific! It all begins, it seems, with a countdown. 10-9-8-etc. Counting came before language, but language did catch up, at least to a decade or two ago. Talk, as they used to say, is cheap, but no longer. Podcasts rule, belatedly climbing out of their ancient dens. As Trump proved, it is the oral culture that allows for the Big Lie. Just say it over and over. Proof would have to be found on the page, documented, to be checked and read. Proof, not always, but often, is set in type. Speaking, as I was above, of counting, Biden is the oldest president. When Reagan left the presidency (after two terms!), he was addled with Alzheimer’s at age 77. (Though I don’t blame his final impairment for all his follies, but the stuff he was spouting long before he even became governor of California was borderline nitwittery.) Biden is 78. Numbers, numbers. I’m 75, so if I’m an ageist, it’s the self-criticizing kind. We have a bit less than 23 months before things will get worse. And they’re pretty bad now. But the less I see of Trump the better for the precious months ahead. That would be the ticket. Or, at least, my ticket to ride, as the Beatles once sang.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations(#21)

What has Trump wrought? But I have spoke With one that saw him die; who did report That very frankly he confessed his treasons, Implor'd your Highness' pardon, and set forth A deep repentance. Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it. There is no character in Shakespeare that mimics The Donald. He doesn’t have the brains of Iago, the language of anyone who struts upon the stage. And he, of course, is more than a clown. The bard didn’t do, it seems, malignant clowns. (But our modern popular culture seems to love them.) So, the lines from Macbeth don’t exactly fit Trump, though there is a kernel of pertinence there. Nothing in his presidency became him like the leaving of it. Two weeks earlier the mob invaded the Capitol on his behalf, the whole crew wearing disparate costumes, some military, some madcap, some bad-taste-middle-class – sporting feed caps embossed with Make (& Keep) America Great Again, many with patriotic-themed knitted stocking caps, all the usual winter dunce wear – befitting a hodgepodge of various Shakespeare characters tossed about in a Cuisinart. Another white-tribe mob in full fury. An appropriate capstone indeed. After the Capitol riot a silence fell on the presidency, since Trump was deprived of, banned from, Twitter, his primary public voice. The voice he used in private, typing away with his short stubby digits, surrounded by fast food wrappers, whatever leavings that get picked up by White House servants. Trump, himself, during the second candidate debate in 2016, described a guy – an unwitting prophesy on The Donald’s part – “sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” as a likely candidate interfering with the election, other than the Russians. The beginning turned into the end. His other, secondary, voice, after Twitter, was that of important personage on the way to the helicopter, disclaiming to the sad minions of the press shouting questions. All this silence was, is, as they say, deafening. Some technically imposed, some self-imposed, Trump revealed what was below the surface during his reign. That he had no public voice to serve him at length. Speeches needed to be written for him. The only form he could manage on his own was rally speak and he never desisted from rallies during his entire presidency. So his post Twitter silence echoes on. Curiously, the only protocol of former presidents he has followed is this after-departure silence. The Democrats can’t let go, though, giving him the benefit of a second impeachment, another first he can brag about. The Republicans still advertise themselves as the worst people in the world and the GOP will never recover, unless, of course, they win both houses of Congress in 2022 and run the government once again. Everything is moving as fast as the Covid virus, except for the immunizing of citizens. It is impossible to remember The Donald’s initial victory without contemplating Hillary’s loss. What a price to pay for her defeat. My problem remains with all the folk who normally would have voted for the Democrat, but couldn’t bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary. The gamut ran from hatred to boredom, from outrage to ennui. All those ersatz nonvoters had their reasons. So too the ludicrous Third Party candidates. Yes, there were reasons. But all those semi-informed individuals should have had some knowledge of who The Donald was. We all have paid a terrible price for their delicate feelings. Their Hillary-that-bitch disdain. Again, the shock this time around was how popular a complete imbecile can become. Trump has no redeeming social value, but nearly half the country voted for him in 2020. The country has become use to occasional nitwits being elected to the House, but now they are more lethal than ignorant. And though the Biden/Harris administration is barely two weeks old, the Trump virus still spreads, reinfecting those who, one thought, might back off a bit. No no no. There’s no undoing, it seems, the Republicans’ disastrous pact with the Devil. Mitch McConnell still acts as if he is the majority leader and “Chuck” Schumer can’t seem to fully displace him. Democrats fight each other with more relish than they confront the Republican opposition. The same old same old. There is something dispiriting about all the photographs showing Biden sitting at the desk, mask less, and Harris standing in the corner wearing hers, as if she is at his beck and call, the usual lady in waiting. The new administration is in the position of going from too little to too much. But all the antagonisms remain the same. Trump silenced – no Twitter no Trump – is the only thing that seems to be permanently positive. Trump truly was the president without any clothes. But television couldn’t point that out since they had made him a star. A star to whatever percentage of the deluded had watched – and enjoyed – The Apprentice. The profitable media couldn’t and didn’t want to admit that the people had elected a complete idiot President. The last couple of months of his reign some of the press did curtail their self imposed ignorance, meaning they began to point out the depths of his know-nothing-ism. Though the I-Won mantra continued to be aired day after day, hour after hour on most every platform. It is still likely that without the plague year The Donald would have been reelected. That’s another appalling truth this country doesn’t like, or want, to face.