Monday, December 12, 2016

Presidential Politics 2016: The Real, the Ritual, and Beyond the Pale – A Report from Mars (@ 3QD)

Title, of course, is ridiculous, which is the point. I figure I worked on it off and on for an hour or so, picking words, moving them around. It was only late in the process that I decided to use “singularity,” and it took a bit of manouvering to slip it in. Still, I slipped. It should have been “Lord High Singularity” rather than “Grand High Singularity.”

What can I say? You win some, you lose some.

The essay itself took 5 or 6 hours, along with two tumblers of scotch. Some of the prose – the middle section, about The Crown – had already been written. And I’d been thinking about it, of course, for weeks. Alas, it could use more work. Like, maybe I should have written 10K words and then extracted the essay from that.

The problem, of course, is I don’t know what to think about this event. Neither does anyone else. Of course, everyone’s saying this and that because they have to. Maybe eventually we’ll get a handle on it. Maybe.

But what if events unfold more rapidly than we construct categories to make sense of them? The old categories no longer work – and that’s where most of the explication and punditry is going these days, the existing, the old categories – but we don’t have time to construct new ones. We don’t even know that’s what we need to do. Maybe that’s what I meant by singularity. For better of worse we’re never going to catch up.
But have we ever, caught up I mean?

Meanwhile I’ve been wondering if the reign of King Trump were a Shakespeare play, which one would it be? Perhaps King Lear. I know, it’s a great play and Trump’s a power-mad buffoon. But then Lear was rather foolish and gullible, wasn’t he? He actually gathered his children together and asked which loved him most. Frankly, sounds like something Trump might do. Sounds like something he is, in effect, doing all the freakin’ time: Do you love me? – to his kids, his staff, his entourage, the world – Do you love me? Perhaps for a few of them, yes – even more than a few (I’m thinking of those who voted for him, but have never had to deal with him day after day). For most of them, though, they want to use him. But he knows that, as did Lear. Hence the no win lose lose questions.

Will the reign of The Donald Supreme be a think of Shakespearean tragedy, or Marxist farce? Only time will tell.

What will happen with his businesses? He clearly wants to keep his hand in. I can appreciate that. And unwinding his connections to his businesses would be a tough one, but then he should have thought of that when he decided to run. Except, of course, he didn’t really think he’d win, did he? He may never had said to himself, I’m doing it for the fame and the brand; he would have kept that hidden. Nor did he ever think about actually governing, the day-to-day, the long-term strategy. He just ran, ran to see if he could beat those other chumps.

He did. Now he’s stuck with it. And the White House just doesn’t have enough bling for his taste. He doesn’t really want to leave friends and family in New York. And the meetings. Oh, the meetings. And being in the press all the time. PR is PR but this is ridiculous.

OTOH, something might come of his midnight tweeting. Yes, it’s absurd, but also kind of interesting – here I’m thinking in terms of myth, symbol, and ritual. Donald Trump, Tweeter in Chief. That might amount to something. Evolution. In the old days rulers could fight battles by proxy. Each chooses a champion and the champions fight it out. Now its Tweet against Tweet.

I’m thinking there’s some kind of reality media thing here. Not TV. The web. Yes, the tweet streams, by all means. But with graphic interpretation, amplification, and explication:

GiTS2 Innocence 1 data

matrix beyond

matrix1 characterflow

tron2 gamers

Viewers vote on the winner. Obviously a lot depends on the graphics teams.

Hello World!

* * * * *

Frame grabs from (top to bottom): Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Animatrix: Matriculated, The Matrix, Tron.


  1. Marxist farce?

    Social economic argument here in regards to identity I suspect.

    Current situation seems to share some comparable features with the first moves towards being a king and establishing an ethnic identity. i.e in parts of Europe where the Roman urban economy remained intact (e.g France) incoming German rulers opted for the more roman than the romans option.

    In the U.K. where the urban economy had collapsed a coporate race based identity was more appealing. King and his very anglo saxon people.

    1. In the back of my mind I've got the old notion of the king's two bodies, the mortal one that dies, and the immortal one that remains head of state while various mortal bodies occupy it. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on "sovereignty":

      In his classic, The King's Two Bodies (1957), medievalist Ernst Kantorowicz describes a profound transformation in the concept of political authority over the course of the Middle Ages. The change began when the concept of the body of Christ evolved into a notion of two bodies — one, the corpus naturale, the consecrated host on the altar, the other, the corpus mysticum, the social body of the church with its attendant administrative structure. . . . Whereas the king's natural, mortal body would pass away with his death, he was also thought to have an enduring, supernatural one that could not be destroyed, even by assassination, for it represented the mystical dignity and justice of the body politic. The modern polity that emerged dominant in early modern Europe manifested the qualities of the collectivity that Kantorowicz described — a single, unified one, confined within territorial borders, possessing a single set of interests, ruled by an authority that was bundled into a single entity and held supremacy in advancing the interests of the polity.

  2. Not read The King's Two Bodies but I suspect the kindle edition will be mine shortly after typing this.

    He starts in the 12th century. Its seems not unconnected to the 6th.

    Priest as a servant in his masters house gives early christianity a significant advantage, supernatural landholder means no fragmentation of territory, reduced rates of violence etc.

    Church shapes the whole pattern of urban development and settlement in my backyard and beyond.

    Ability to hold territory major headache for secular culture. Kingship as such did not really exist. Anglo Saxons in England had a flat egalitarian society on arrival. Huge question over wither Southern Britian and the remains of the Romano British had kings or just big men engaged in the normal activities big men do (violent land grab).

    Roman and Biblical models of kingship held massive attractions for big men who wanted to wear a new set of regal clothing.

    Its not enough for the new and inovative body of the king to simply look good. It also has to work. Failure here is not an option more an open invatitation for wolves and ravens to dine.

  3. "In the back of my mind"

    Philosophy of time, history of a metaphor, the issue of reproduction.

    A lot of interesting ground lurking backstage.

    1. Well, yeah. There's a short book by the sociologist, James S. Coleman, Power and the Structure of Society (1974), in which he argues that the notion of a corporate body, the corporation, arose in the medieval church. Who is the legal owner of the a congregation's physical goods, the church itself and contents? Does it belong to the local bishop or does belong to, well, you know, The Church, conceived as an abstract entity continuing through time and transcending the individuals who enact it?

  4. Looked at this issue on the ground so never had full sight of the wood as it has lots of trees in various states obscuring navigation.

    Kings two bodies presents lots of forest, with some danger of hitting a tree full in the face. Large scale map, its unusual structure makes you slow down. Footnotes are far longer than the actual narrative on the page.

    Marginal creature.