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English Never Trumpers (ENT)  Part Two

“This constant coverage becomes a compulsion fixation for us all…Yet, we gorge ourselves on such toxic infotainment with a niggling sense of impending doom” (Betty T. Peng, in Lee,  pp. 231-2).

I am no exception. I’ve ‘gorged’ myself on the following since early 2018:

Fire and Fury - Michael Wolff; Fear - Bob Woodward; Everything Trump Touches Dies - Rick Wilson.  All 2018.

Siege - Michael Wolff; A Warning - Anonymous.  Both 2019.

A Very Stable Genius - Phillip Rucker & Carol Leonnig; A Year at the Circus - Jon Sopel.  Both 2020.

Add to these seven the above mentioned Mary Trump and Bandy Lee books, and you have NINE tomes. So, as opposed to books on Trump’s ‘malignant narcissism’ and the ‘malignant normality’ that it engenders, I have less on Bob Dylan, and I’ve been buying books on him since 1972! What on earth is it all about then? One theory is that it represents an epistemological ‘anxiety attack’, ‘DERIVED FROM A REALITY ONLY HE KNOWS’ (Teng, page 230, my upper-case), which invites a paranoid existential weltanschauung. ‘Trumpanschauung’ is not ‘objective’, so we sink into its world of subjectivity, which only the Trump Corporation can explain. Look at the medieval Catholic Church for another example of ‘reality banditry’, one which I’m sure that Mike Pence would fully endorse.

This new world has its own Trump-related pathologies/norms/symptoms, which is a remarkably perverse triumph/achievement for the former ‘reality TV star’, who has now achieved an almost Palmer Eldridge-type (dis)continuity over his ‘world’ (a reference to the Phillip K. Dick novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldridge), with Chew-Z and Can-D replaced by hydroxychloriquine and  bleach/’light’ injections. This is truly the stuff of horrors. Some have come up with diagnoses such as ‘Post-Trump Stress Disorder’ (with PTSD- like effects) and ‘Trump Anxiety Disorder’, to reify the New Era of Trump-related symptomatology. One simple definition of a ‘delusion’ is ‘a fixed, false belief’. so are Trump and his followers deluded and ignorant, or merely suffering from ‘magical thinking’? Or all three, in one toxic package?

This is merely one conundrum for the Goldwater/Tarasoff disputants to argue out. Whatever the ‘confidentiality’/’duty to warn’ dilemma, there are many of us who worry that “Donald Trump is causing a trauma epidemic” and at times feel “overwhelmed and immobilised by anger or anxiety in the face of Trump’s erratic and vindictive behaviour” (Lee, pp. 223-4). And that’s before we get onto the more parochial topic of Brexit and Boris Johnson’s government-of-all-the-crooks, which is our very own creek/paddle, self-imposed nightmare.

Confessions of an ENT (English Never Trumper) Part One

I’ve just finished reading one of the first of the now many, many books exploring the #Donald Trump phenomenon. This is a 2017 compilation of 27 ‘duty-to-warn’ American mental health professionals, edited by forensic psychiatrist Bandy Lee, with an epilogue by Noam Chomsky even, so it’s hardly a ‘kiss and tell’ opportunist project. The latter category might be applied to the work that I finished reading just before commencing The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, written by Trump’s niece Mary, and published only a couple of weeks ago, called Too Much and Never Enough. In fact, the latter is probably, on refection, the best account that I have read on the subject of Trump World, in that it describes the ‘making of a monster’ in a dispassionate manner, and is a valuable first-hand account of the sheer dysfunctional quality of the Trump family/menagerie, going a fair way to explaining why ‘The Donald’ is such a fuck-up, both as a human being and a effective leader of the Land of the Free

I appear to be one of those middle-aged UK men who have become discombobulated by the Trump saga of ‘falling upwards, all the way to the very, very top’ (thus giving hope to us all?). Acronyms for this process include: ENT (as in this blog’s title), TOB (Trump-Obsessed Brit) and MABOT (Middle-aged Bloke Obsessed by Trump). My family certainly think that I have ineluctably become a member of this club, however it is acronym-ed. Some quotes from the Lee-edited compilation will serve, however, to indicate that my Trump ‘addiction’ is hardly a solitary one. To start with:

“Trump has mesmerised our national psyche like no other public figure in memory”. (Singer, page 281) 

There might be a few musical/sport/entertainment figures who can be said to have occupied this role, but surely not a Republican politician? On page 294, Thomas Singer, a Jungian analyst, opines, in his chapter entitled ‘Trump and the American Collective Psyche’ that “one of the most disturbing thoughts about the Trump Presidency is that he has taken up residence not just in the White House but in the psyches of each and every one of us”. Trump is imagined here, as both an Internal Persecutor and as a psychic ‘rapist’ (or, at the very least, a frotteur of cosmic proportions) - “the way a president lives inside each of us can feel like a very personal and intimate affair…(Trump’s) masterful skill at invading and groping the national psyche” (page 295).

Just in case you though that Trump was a-religious, he here presents a messianic message, one which I am sure that he entirely convinced about:

“I AM THE TRUTHFUL HYPERBOLE”. (a mission statement originally put forward in his co-written book with Tony Schwartz, The Art of the Deal.

Yet another bellicose and hubristic big-up of himself, this book of questionable-truths, was an early Trump bible, a tablets-from-the mountain account of his extraordinary deeds and pronouncements. With his (and his enablers in the GOP) ongoing propositions of ‘alternative truths/facts’, and, taking this to its reductio ad absurdum of alternative realities’, who has need of hallucinogens when you’ve got Trump, the alt right’s own Timothy Leary? This b/s fundamentally calls into question one’s perceptions of both truth and reality, and any ideas of ‘consensus’, in either realm, start to fragment under Trump’s ruthless assault on both. 

Trump’s epistemological dirty fighting, between belief and mere opinion, has become, over just three and a half years, a scary attack on decent values and the decent ideation that must underlie these.

To be continued.

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