November 9, 2016
Waking up this morning to Trump’s victory and your invitation to write a short essay about present America I am ambivalent, having half-expected to receive such an invitation from somebody, somewhere and inclined to refuse it, because the problem is, always has been, in this country that there is TOO MUCH TALK, too many ‘opinions;’ opinions that mostly don’t come from the heart but are adopted like armor or inflated to fill the content abyss of the internet.
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I had to leave the bar where I went to watch CNN last night after a half hour because I couldn’t bear watching Wolf Blitzer tapping his pointer to parse the demographics and voting histories of every county in every swing state. The whole electoral show is so well rehearsed, so tired, diversionary and Trump’s victory was a foregone conclusion by then. It’s not as if a win by Hillary Clinton would have been such a triumph, it would have been more like a lull: an assurance we could remain in our east-and-west coast neoliberal cocoons, our personal fortunes secured by insanely inflated real estate values so long as we own our own homes, pursuing our personal agendas that are instantly fed back into the mediascape – because we’re part of the machine that creates the mediascape – and then blanketed all over the world, while those too lazy, too stubborn, too proud, too smart or too stupid to leave their ancestral homes in the fly-over states are unemployed, semi-employed, addicted to opiates, living in sub-standard trailers. Check out the small towns just two or three miles away from the Interstates: municipal governments bankrupt, abandoned community centers, businesses shuttered, houses foreclosed, left vacant and then finally demolished. Driving through the northern Midwest, my partner Philip and made up a game, “Saddest Town,” ranking them on a list, and there were so many to choose from …
A strange and peculiar condition of life in the US has always been our strident immodesty: it’s not enough to simply hold an opinion, the opinion then must define you, as if you’re no one without it. Transgender bathrooms and gun-rights … the right the create a designer fetus and the right to punish women for having abortions, It’s Not A Choice It Is A Child … the endless 18-month election cycle, all of the punditry, spins and re-spins. The “meritocracy” in which no member of Obama’s cabinet did not attend an Ivy League school … Jean Baudrillard’s The Ecstasy of Communication published in 1987 in France but so prescient of the effects of social-media culture … ‘information’ reduced to sensation. The 20th century, Peter Sloterdijk writes, really began in 1915 with the introduction of chemical warfare.
There will be an endless analysis-discussion-interpretation of the election results, and such “discussion” can only yield more of the same. I wish for more quiet, less information.