(A guest post by Gary MacLennan, a retired communications professor, socialist activist, Marxism list veteran going back 20 years, and a very dear friend and comrade.)
Yesterday, piqued by my increasing (from a low base, mind you) interest in the US presidential elections, I decided to break a deep sworn vow and went on YouTube in search of Trump in his reality TV mode. I loathe reality tv and have sworn to go to my grave with the boast that I have never watched a Big Brother show, Master Chef, Australia’s Got Talent or a 60 Minutes episode.
But I yielded to temptation and searched for Trump and “you’re fired”. I came across a 7 minute compilation of the “best” of Donald Trump. Alas, words fail me here like they did when I tried so hard as a young man to become a poet and a novelist.
I had always imagined that Narcissus would be a pretty boy like in those old classical paintings, kneeling by the water side and languidly contemplating his own beauty. But no, here he was – ugly, red faced, bug eyed and it all topped with that hair-do.
This Narcissus was not drunk on beauty but on the the grossest and most arbitrary displays of his own power. “You’re fired” he would snarl and almost without exception they would whimper, apologize and slink out of the throne room. There were two exceptions. One of the contestants glared in deep hatred but said nothing. A young woman defied the Emperor and tried to defend her leader who was about to be fired. Trump’s wrath was almost incandescent.
Icarus plunged to earth when he got too near the sun, but these poor souls had gone down into Hades to become victims of the wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command.
I tried to work out what viewing the tape meant to me other than fill me with despair at the sad search for 13 minutes of fame that has so many in thrall. This post is, I suppose, part of that working out. As a teenager I remember being deeply puzzled and depressed by the Marabar Caves episode in Foster’s Passage to India. Mrs Moore goes into the caves and experiences some kind of nervous breakdown when the echo in the cave seems to say to her, ‘Everything exists, nothing has value’. Mrs Moore leaves India, decides not to write to her children and she then proceeds to die. Thank you Mr Foster! Watching the youtube tape I wondered if this would become my Marabar Caves moment?
I have, though, since read Vasant A. Shahane’s Zen Buddhist reading of the Marabar Caves incident. For him, Mrs Moore encounters the Void and comes to understand the essential meaningless of life. BTW I am not absolutely convinced by Shahane’s insistence that his reading is an optimistic one.
I can accept the proposition that all that Trump stands for – his wealth and power and vulgarity contain nothing of value. I can understand that for him to be strutting the airways is a sign of the almost absolute decay and decomposition of late capitalism. But I feel that what Trump represents must be actively resisted. It is necessary to be horrified at the spectacle of him doing dirt on life, but it is not sufficient. Instead of quietism and acceptance, we must stoke the fires of revolutionary resistance. it is necessary to say once more *encore un effort.*