Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Trump Look

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
     (Not A Government Publication)


- Let's talk about the appearance of the president.
- You've noticed how his bronze face, orange hair have recently been changing? Losing color, becoming more metallic. For him, somehow, this seems absolutely normal. The man seems hardly human.
- What do you think is revealed in his appearance, if anything, expressive of his character, the way he lives his life?
- Maybe nothing. Maybe that is why he is so uncanny to look at.
- Would you say he makes a masculine appearance or a feminine?
- Strangely, I think both. The tough guy Trump rushes death row executions before he leaves office, the soft, soliciting, caring, feminine Trump begs his supporters in a low, wheedling voice to see how much he loves and takes care of them. Both behaviors come off to the not like minded as posturing, not revealing anything true about him.
- Why do you think he is so obviously unconvincing? Because he so unpredictably shifts from tough guy to soft gal?
- I don't know.
- We know what Trump and his supporters have in common: placing making money, 'success', ahead of any human concern; any means to the end of moneymaking are acceptable. How does that behavior show itself in personal appearance?
- I think I can often, not always, recognize in their appearance, their gestures and language, people who are strong and people who are caring. Do people who have no character, because changeable with the changeable requirements for making-money and success, ready to be all things to all people, have any particular appearance?
- Think of it like this. The tough guy, the masculine, the ambitious man is ready to do what it takes. We have a theory,* you'll remember, that our action as human beings is always aimed at learning the world we live in, something particular about it, and that learning involves learning how to see the world, involves developing habits of perception that place our bodies, our agents in that perception, in regular relation to the world's habits, or laws, to its regular behavior. The correspondence of habits, our own habits to the world's, allows us to rest, and the particular name we have for this experience is awareness of beauty.
- A theory that traces back to Plato.
- So someone who has no character, is shifting behavior constantly in response to the shifting demands of other people, whose behaviors have no law or regularity, cannot rest in perception of beauty. Looking on at this, what do we see?
- We see ambition that never gets a rest.
- Yes. Similarly, our president's feminine 'please love me I love you so much', his feminine holding to beauty, holding his relation to the world steady because that relation is supposed to be good, is not good, not beautiful, because it is without a history, or even a future, of establishing habits of relation to the world. Masculine and feminine are characteristics more fundamental than those that fall into place as common sex roles. They are names for two phases of our relation to the world: learning in action, resting in beauty. When we look on at our tough guy attention begging gal president we are seeing a break down of this cycle into unrelated fragments. Ambition goes nowhere, rest is without beauty.
- And because this is fundamental to our nature as human beings when it is barred from practice by a money/success ideology what we see is what we see: neither a man nor a woman nor even a human being, a chameleon lizard whose hair and skin tones adapt to background colorings.


- Though on the whole I like your definition of capitalism - a form of slavery in which the slaves are expected to buy back the products they make for their masters - still it doesn't sit well with me.
- What bothers you, if it is an accurate description of what happens in capitalism? 
- I don't know what perversity could account for it being thought up and adopted. Not to mention systemic problems, like the fact that since wages are less than the price of goods that include slavemasters' profit, there must be found consumers outside the capitalist world to buy the remainder, an expedient that fails when the whole world has gone capitalist. But now, what you explained about our president, never able to rest unchanging in what one's done, I think also explains the 'why' of capitalism. Capitalism is a tool people like Trump use to manufacture people like himself, remaking the world, at least the human world, in their image. Marx gave psychological and economic explanations of what it's like to be a slave in its class war: the worker's alienation from the product of his labor, the work's surplus value stolen by the employer. But what's in it for the masters? Profits? Do profits explain the craziness? What if instead capitalists desire to alter the fundamental human nature of others as they themselves have been altered? 
- Why would they?
- Because a character broken down to a condition like theirs is a character that can be made, when propertyless, to accept slavery and put money acquisition ahead of everything else. 
- Why accept slavery? 
- If money making at any cost is the goal then there is nothing wrong with slavery that makes money. Slaves might rather be masters, but with broken character they are unable to give a good reason why their enslavement is wrong. Look at how Americans act in this epidemic. I read today that one billion hotel room days have gone unused. That works out to millions of empty hotel rooms every day in the past eight months. Unemployment is in the tens of millions. The labor force is there to find the sick, hotel rooms available to offer at no charge for quarantine. But instead of identifying the sick and keeping them separate from the healthy, we get lockdowns, business closures, curfews, virtual house arrest. Commandeer hotel rooms? Offer free meals to residents while there? No, these are crimes against the supremacy of money making. Keep people locked up at home, close independent businesses? Yes, of course, but keep open big business owned departments stores, supermarkets, drug store chains, keep airlines flying and airports open, trains and buses running. Break the will of individuals and drive small business into bankruptcy. 


- I'd like you to sum up our discussion that began with what you thought the president's appearance reveals to us about capitalism, in one sentence if you can.
- Capitalism, far more than an economics of profit, or a psychology of greed and alienation, or a sociology of slavery, or a politics of class war, is a complete disarticulation of every thought, word, and act from ending resolution, statement, and deed. It scares me to death.

Further Reading: