Magical thinking, suspension of disbelief be Trump-ed
Magical thinking, suspension of disbelief be Trump-ed
What I hate most about myself is my belief in magic: that life will replicate fairytales and all bad, evil, and terrifying will end happily ever after. It makes me gullible and results in cynicism, for when life proceeds as it does, I, am crushed, saddened and angry. Who taught us that we would eventually gasp at silver linings and bouncing pink lambs? Certainly the holocaust tales I savoured as a child did not forecast miraculous resurrections to parents lost or burnt, and even the three pigs did lose their houses of sticks and straw. Where did I imbibe this penchant for gold at the end of rainbows? What is it about me that yearns to put my faith in places that turns out as life does: some good, some bad, most so- so.
Back as a student in third year U of T, daydreaming in classes I must have somehow alighted on Coleridge’s mantra of willing suspension of disbelief. Stated by Coleridge in one of his tediously verbose books of criticism that I likely only skimmed, ”…. so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” True enough, he was thinking about literature and the banishment of superstition and witches and the supernatural as once acceptable forces in the 18 th century. Ironically as he pushed medieval and shetl superstition further away, he and the Romantic poets opened the door to another ‘ imaginative’ way to perceive the world with a passion for nature and believing in a pantheistic spirit, allowing for a viewer’s eye that saw beyond the foliage of rustling trees, deeply, connecting one to the great beyond of G-d, of Beauty, of Truth. Keats’s ode on a Grecian urn froze but extended the meaning of the racing figures carved into the sides of the pot so he could write, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. (lines 46–50)
Wordsworth’s reverie on the woods taught him about himself and the world around him. To escape the noisy, bustling cities, the result of the first industrial revolution, he took to the countryside, to find solace. These magical moments, are escapes from a world too much with us” he penned .
Ironically, the present day political race between Trump and Clinton satisfies my needs for diversion in a strangely complex way. From the start Trump for some of us was a terrible possibility – as we yearned for the Camelot of Kennedy or the clever honest machinations of even Lyndon Johnson. Barack Obama was a star that somehow entered and won the race and brought with him healthcare, even as it appeared not fully realized. But the race between the businessman and the standoffish unlikable but experienced Hillary made me wonder at a world where two such unsavoury characters might clash and yet one take hold of the reins of the country to the south of us.
I used to believe Canadians were wiser, more thoughtful and less brash than the folks in the US, but last weekend we visited our daughter in Philadelphia and were confronted by a fact that pierced our illusion. Sitting at breakfast we began to chat with a pleasant man at the next table. The tv in the room was turned to CNN and the latest Trump fiasco was interrupting and spoiling our waffles and coffee.. The man beside us explained he was one of our First Nations from Canada, but having inherited a farm in Pennsylvania he was now an American. Disparaging of other aboriginal people who were still complaining of their treatment by “ a few colonials who passed through” his hometown, he was now a businessman. And he was voting for Trump, that the personal and public personas were different and in spite of the media’s love of inflaming any news story, his vote was for Trump. I mentioned The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, which I had just finished reading, and he didn’t exactly scoff. Similarly a very nice border patrol agent a few months earlier had also affirmed his support of Trump. Although Hillary was no light at the end of the tunnel, how could these people actually take a chance with this megalomaniac. Once again my heart sank and I considered whether I should run into the woods as Wordsworth did or imagine myself into a field of roses.
Trump’s new repulsive business( language) regarding women appears to have turned the tide although from the outset Trump’s behaviour, his ignorance and arrogance has been for me consistent. My husband says in American politics, this is “The October Surprise”- although it may be a surprise for Trump, it is not for the rest of us. Yet as has been noted by many columnists, the dramatic split in the States between voters may eventually herald a Donald clone.
Last week’s Globe reviewed a book by Daniel Levitin that caught my eye as it seemed to target the rhetoric that has made Trump a candidate for president . What Trump appears to do according to A Field Guide to Lies:Critical Thinking in the Information Age is to provide the appearance of truth. Because of economic inequality( how the disenfranchised could believe that Trump will level the playing field for them is way beyond my imagination!),the tweetable quotes that take precedence over facts extend an atmosphere in which everyone’s view resonates credibility. Much as celebrity endorsements or disparagement do with the public and some still insist as Jenny McCarthy did, that vaccines cause autism. Levitin refers to this as basic logical fallacy: B happens after A, therefore A causes B. NOT.
Perhaps too, the sensationalism of the media propels the truth into hyperbole or the loss of any truth has been reinterpreted by any one’s take one it, changing and perverting the facts.Therefore, if the news is circumspect with its outrageous “ flashes” and blinking lights, the converse quiet fearful thoughts of Everyman is also truth. Levitin says, “ We’ve grown quick to outrage, quick to form online lynch mobs: we trade our opinions and “ facts” as though they were beads at a bazaar.” So Trump’s denial that he did not vote for invading Iran or his regret at the loss of housing for the poor somehow stands as truth even though the record, the emails, the actual proof counteracts his lies. Yet his supporters accept what they want to believe:, reality, truth, facts be damned. Like my magical thinking that only occluded the truth as I hide in my imaginary fields of frolicking lambs beneath rainbows.
The demise of Trump, Clifford Owen from University of Toronto, suggests in The Globe October 13, will be missed, he suggests. His presence in the media, the caricature, our loathing, his place as scapegoat ave become a preoccupation, a diversion for many, particularly the civic minded, watching a new soap opera unfold. Some, I imagine, have blocked it all out, deciding not to vote and escape into their own mental reverie. ). Rabbi Elyse Goldstein from City Shul in her Yom Kippur speech addressed the impact of the media. She targeted peoples’ readiness for diatribe, not discussion and the inability to listen to the perspectives of others, thereby engaging in thoughtful debate: what Bahtkin referred to as the dialogic conversation wherein people actively listen and build on the other’s utterances. However, no matter what, as exemplified by our breakfast mate, some will follow him to the end and support Trump’s sneers that everything has been rigged against him, been manipulated by the media intent on lambasting and dishonouring the celebrity of the celebrity. Rather, these are “ tale[s]…told by an idiot . Full of sound and fury.Signifying nothing( Macbeth, Scene v)
No wonder Keats, Wordsworth and the others when the world became too much with them fled to the woods to contemplate the beauty in the trees. The madness of Trump makes one want to turn back and embrace the suspension of disbelief.fluffy clouds and billowing curtains, all.
Tags:Levitin, Keats, Wordsworth, Trump, Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian, Clifford Owen, Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, City Shul, Bahktin, dialogic, Macbeth, Globe and Mail,A Field Guide to Lies:Critical Thinking in the Information Age, Jenny Mc Carthy, Yom Kippur, October Surprise., Keats, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, holocaust.