Wesley’s Inferno, Canto 2

 

 

Canto 2

 

Outside the cab colors swirled,

like a miasmic kaleidoscope,

obscuring the street. The whorl

 

eventually dissipated. A sign. “Abandon all hope,

you poor pathetic bastards.” A guard

nodded to Catullus, unhooked a rope,

 

and we drove on past, through a junkyard

of cars stuck in an epic traffic jam.

“We call this Limbo Boulevard,”

 

Catullus said. “Hollow men and women stranded;

You know the Eliot poem. These nobodies

In life never took a stand, didn’t

 

vote, etc., Not bone fide sleazes,

per se, so this is their punishment.

“Can they one day cop a plea?”

 

I asked. “Make atonement?”

“Naw, but this ain’t nothing,

not having no movement.

 

“What you bout to see on the other side will wring

your heart, if you think this here is hell.

Like, I said, tain’t nothing.”

 

Looking in the cars it was hard to tell

any of the passengers apart. We drove past,

swerved left, through a dell

 

towards the car ferry, the last

stop in Limbo. We took our place in the line

of cars. Across the river lightening flashed.

 

You can read/listen to “Canto 1” here.

 

Mentally Diagnosing the Donald

trum-narcissist

After yesterday’s barrage of Cheetos-stained tweets claiming that Obama had wiretapped Trump Towers before the election, some on my Twitter feed conjectured that Donald was in the throes of “a nervous breakdown,” accused him of harboring paranoid delusions. In fact, for some time now, mentally diagnosing the Donald has become a popular topic of conjecture for amateur psychologists all over the Internet.

Well, as I am fond of asserting, “Although I am not a psychologist, I do sleep with one” [not to mention that my undergraduate minor was in psychology, which means I had a least 30 hours of instruction (and in fact became very proficient at darkening bubbles on multiple choice tests)]. These two “facts” certainly establish my credentials as a credible source of wild conjecture, so allow me to weigh in on the mental pathologies that plague our 45th president.

I’ll list and then debunk two prominent theories before I share with you my ultimate diagnosis.

Theory 1: He’s bat shit crazy

bedlam

Although the phrase “bat shit crazy” sounds cool with the consonant t-sounds and its spondaic bang-bang-bang beginning, in the case of Donald, it’s simply not true. He’s not bat shit crazy, nor, fortunately, “crazy like a fox.”

A bat-shit-crazy person couldn’t have read from a teleprompter to deliver in relatively hushed tones (albeit dripping with insincerity) a speech even as pedestrian as the State-of-the-Union Trump delivered last week. A bat-shit-crazy person couldn’t have systematically turned his head from teleprompter to teleprompter as if he were watching a Ping-Pong match in super slo-mo. No, bat-shit-crazy people twitch and constantly scratch themselves.

A bat-shit-crazy person would have seen the original letters of the speech transform on the screen and start dripping blood as he shrieked, “Evil Triminicons have launched an evasion from Faltour and will be arriving on earth at any minute to destroy us all!!!

Conversely, a crazy-like-a-fox person wouldn’t lurch from crisis to crisis because you can’t be a lazy ignoramus and be crazy-like-a-fox. You need systematic thought, and Trump’s thought is about as systematic as shards of glass spraying from an empty Jim Bean bottle launched from a car in the parking lot of a frat house.

On the one hand, Donald is too well functioning to be bat shit crazy and on the other hand not well functioning enough to be crazy like a fox.

Theory 2: Trump suffers from “Narcissistic Personality Disorder

At first glance, this theory seems rather convincing.

Here’s Wikipedia’s (the go-to source for amateur psychologists like myself) list of criteria:

  • Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
  • Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  • Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
  • Needing constant admiration from others
  • Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  • Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  • Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
  • Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  • Pompous and arrogant demeanor

Okay, check check check check check check check check check.

But, whoa, hold on; it’s more complicated than that.

In fact, according to Raw Story, Professor Allen Frances, “the psychiatrist who wrote the diagnostic criteria or narcissistic personality disorder” wrote a letter to the New York Times in which he stated “[Trump] may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.”

In the letter he goes on to note that

Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy. It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).

Frances concludes with a statement that throws a very cold towel on the very purpose of this post:

His psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.”

Well, obviously, I disagree with the idea of Trump’s psychological motivations as not being interesting. After all, you’ve read on this far, right?

Theory 3: Trump is merely a lazy, ignorant and intemperate non-reader whose mother and father didn’t love him

 freud-couch

(How do you copyright a theory? Is it enough to superscript a © over the “him” above?)

Anyway, I’ll quickly and eloquently prove my theory so you can get off this site and contact your representatives.

Exhibit A:

A temperate person who is not lazy would have done a little research to remedy his ignorance and discover that a president doesn’t have the power to order a domestic wiretap, that only a federal judge who must have compelling evidence can bug US citizens in the US. This intemperance will now cost Donald at least 3 days of bad press. Indeed, if there’s a document authorizing a wiretap at Trump Tower, Donald has in essence declassified it with his outburst.

But Donald doesn’t like to read as his misspelling of “tap” suggests.

Why read intelligence briefings when you can be watching Fox and Friends. Steve Bannon, Ph.D will explain them to you anyway.

Exhibit B:

web-ny1-trump-queens-long186376jpg

Certainly, if Donald had received paternal love, he wouldn’t be so starved for affirmation.  Look at the expressions on those wretches posing for a family photo. Sad!

It’s always the parents’ fault, people.

Was Follygras a Disaster or Perhaps Not So Much So?

Aging punks too lazy/cheap to dye their gray/white hair descend on Folly Beach

Aging punks too lazy/cheap to dye their gray/white hair descend on Folly Beach

I fear that Trump’s propensity to amp up his descriptions past hyperbole’s red line might be politically contagious.

A sampling of blaring Trump[eted] overstatements from the last debate before the election:

Our energy policies are a disaster.

Your regulations are a disaster, and you’re going to increase regulations all over the place.

We invested in a solar company, our country. That was a disaster.*

Not surprisingly, these “disasters” have transformed our once great nation into a hellscape where billionaires have to scarp over a higher percentage of their wealth than they did before Obama to fund health insurance for the poor.

Carnage!

Kiawah Island, the barrier island just south of Folly.

Kiawah Island, the barrier island just south of Folly.

[cue impatient cough]

Okay, okay, okay, back to my main point concerning contagion. Folly Beach’s mayor, whom I like just fine and would vote for tomorrow, has declared last weekend’s city-sanctioned Carnival street party known as Folly Gras “a disaster.”

You can see footage of the festivities here (with the extra attraction of hearing a soundtrack featuring the Wild Tchoupitoulas).

Trigger warning. If inconveniences and non-lethal foolish human behavior drive you to despair, you probably don’t want to read the following list of off-putting occurrences that when totaled = disaster.

The Post and Courier reports that Department of Public Safety Director Andrew Gilreath cited numerous problems with the festival, where his officers arrested 21 people and wrote 29 citations for “[l]itter, extreme drunkenness, disorderly conduct, underage drinking, public urination, narcotic use, indecent exposure, drunk driving, etc.,” [. . .]. “We could have arrested 100 people and not made a dent, and that was just within the confines of Center Street.”**

C’mon, Tim. Remember Hugo? That was a disaster. The Japanese earthquake that destroyed the nuke plant was a disaster.

Words matter. What we had last weekend on Folly was merely a shitshow – or in the words of the Public Safety Director — “a perfect storm that happened because of the combination of sunny skies, unseasonably warm 80-degree weather and the popularity of the festival.”

Folly after Hurricane Hugo

Folly after Hurricane Hugo


*Writing tip for today: “Disastrous” can be a handy, economical adjective for writers wanting to liposuction flaccid phrase-fettered verbs-of-being like “are and “was.”

** No telling what those aging hippies on the dirt road section of Huron were up to!

Lunch at a Truck Stop with Wallace Stevens

FSA/8a34000/8a344008a34421a.tif

 

Lunch at a Truck Stop with Wallace Stevens

We are the mimics. Clouds are pedagogues.

A big but delicate man,

he doesn’t flirt with the waitress,

a comely gal in calico,

but orders brusquely:

meat loaf, mashed potatoes, sweet peas,

piping hot biscuits fresh from the oven.

 

The fluttering napkin looks small in his hand

as it parachutes upon his lap.

When the grub arrives, he bows his head,

Closes his eyes, and says,

“Tink a tank a tunk a tunk tunk.”

Opens those eyes, raises that head,

and smiles amid the clatter of saucers and cups.

old_21_truck_stop_1950s

Trump Agonistes: (Or Let’s Gouge His Eyes Out for His Own Good)

trump-agonistes

Hubris has consumed Donald Trump, devoured him from the tips of his toes to the top of that bleached, brittle confection he considers hair.

It’s blatantly obvious that even if Trump’s minions and Putin’s lackeys didn’t directly collude in election manipulation, Trump’s close association with Paul Manafort and the host of mobsters, oligarchs, and convicted felons linked to him guarantees that Trump’s businesses are steeped in corruption.[1] If you think this mere conjecture, I suggest you check out Adam Khan on Twitter. He has been unraveling in great detail the byzantine entanglements of those connections and providing documents to support his arguments. For example, according to Khan, son-in-law Kushner’s is in hock “$4+ billion to foreign investors, pushing Russian expansion, Israeli settlements, [. . .].” No telling what secrets of the hoary deep Trump’s income taxes hold.

Allow me to don my dark glasses and engage in some Tiresias-like prophesizing: in the next four years, those returns are bound to surface, whether through investigation or IRS leakage — or some underling facing slammer time squealing — and Mr. Big Shot is going to find himself in a world of shit.

Why would anyone so compromised expose himself to the super scrutiny that comes with running for president?[2]

ύβρις – hubris.

I’ve spent the last 30 years studying its effects on such worthies as Antigone, Kreon, Oedipus, Macbeth, Caesar/Brutus, Milton’s Satan, the Mayor of Casterbridge among others.

Indeed, if Trump doesn’t get a presidential pardon from Pence, he will fit nicely into Aristotle’s tragic formula of the protagonist plummeting from Olympus high to hades low because of a fatal flaw, in Trump’s case, excessive pride.

And as far as Trump’s “soul” is concerned, karmic comeuppance would be the very best thing that could happen to him. Stripped bare of the false grandiosity in which he’s wrapped himself, he would have to face nakedly the existential truth of his true vulnerability.

At the end of Oedipus Rex, we stand in awe of the fallen king because he has gained insight by gouging out his eyes and exiling himself to the desert where he will come to terms with what it really means to be human. He is, in Coleridge’s phrase, “a sadder but wiser man.”

How sad – pathetic is the word — it must be to be Trump, to be addicted to the adulation of the blaring resentment-filled rubes who attend his rallies, to take such deep umbrage at the slightest of slights, to be so utterly benighted.

Of course, it’s doubtful that Trump will undergo an anagnorisis – the tragic recognition of his guilt – but how cool would it be if he could.

It would truly make him great, a true hero. I can see him now, humbled, his head shaved, a real man instead of a manikin, tapping a stick on the hard ground of reality.


[1] Trump’s empire isn’t centralized but consists of several disparate LLCs.

[2] I think Trump ran as a publicity stunt and never really believed he could win. Hence the total lack of planning for his transition.

Lord Buckley Seance

lord-buckley-seance

Et Tu, Breitbart

 

Milo,

Simon Sez,

You gotta go.

 

See you at CPAC.

Uh-oh!

The ol’ heave-ho?

 

Canned?

Banned?

Spited?

Disinvited?

 

First Amendment

Infringement?

 

I don’t think so.

There’s some danger

in being an asshole.

Fine-Tuned Machine

Fine-tuned machine

My ass!

Administration

sputtering

like a

tubercular

lawnmower,

hacking away

day after day

loud as a

vodka-fueled

leaf blower

as well-oiled as this here

mixed metaphor.

Deplorable!

Talking EPA Blues

Poison the atmosphere,

Poison the sea,

Soon you gonna be poisoning

Little ol’ me.