"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Donald Trump, William Blake, And The Inevitability Of The Tiger And The Lamb–This Too Will Pass

The progressive Left has vowed to never give up their fight.  Respect for the Office of the President, tradition, patriotism, and simple civility have gone by the wayside since Donald Trump’s election.

Not only has the other side won, but an evil incarnation sits in the Oval Office - a devil, a perverse character out of Hieronymus Bosch.  Sinful, carnal, ignorant, and bestial. 

Image result for images hieronymus bosch painting

This hellish demon could never have been imagined even by William Blake who understood the nature of fearful reality.

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Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Yes, He who made the lamb did indeed make thee.  Life is a fearful symmetry of innocence and predation, perfectly balanced, harmonious, and essential.

So why the chaotic dissent after the recent election? Why the lamentations and breast-beating? Why the predictions of Armageddon and the End of Days?

Blake understood that the same God who created the Lamb created the Tiger.  They co-exist; and whether happily or unhappily is of no concern to the philosopher-poet who understands the essential nature of the moral duality which has existed ever since Man reached the age of reason.

Life would not be life without the tiger and the lamb – innocence, predation, and  sacrifice.  All  of us must eventually understand the human nature which dictates the swallowing of the weak by the strong.

It is perplexing, therefore, to see these lamentations.   How is it that so many people feel that not only has an election been lost or even that an era has been turned over, dumped, and discarded, but that a Miltonian battle has been engaged? 

The only difference is that Satan in Paradise Lost is a hero, unfairly outcast from the Conclave of Angels for disobedience and insurrection; while Donald Trump is only a novitiate just beginning to express his defiance of God.

Image result for durer illustrations milton paradise lost

Of course the ascendency of Donald Trump to the Presidency is a far cry from the revolt of Satan to overthrow his maker; but it seems that way.  Apparently the liberal order established by Barack Obama, the tradition of Lyndon Johnson and the New Deal on which it is based, and the historical legacy of Eugene Victor Debbs, Samuel Gompers, and Marx has not only been overthrown but unceremoniously tossed into the dustbin of American history.

Nonsense. History has a way of repeating itself; or more appropriately put, the same venal, self-centered, territorial expansionism of Henry VIII exist today. 

Donald Trump is no historical anomaly, no sudden incarnation of Evil,  no Mephistopheles , no Satan; only an American who happens – serendipity,  chance, dumb luck -  to mirror the hopes, aspirations. desires of millions of his compatriots.

It is understandable why many Americans feel otherwise.  It is hard to imagine one’s self-image, self-worth, and  self-esteem to  have taken such a knock.  This election never was simply about Republicans and Democrats or even Hillary vs Trump. It was about values, moral purpose and authority, and righteousness.  The high ground vs the lowest of the low – the immoral base, the bottom of the ethical barrel, the ethical point of no return.

Or was it? Of course not.   Trumpism  is nothing like National Socialism; and Donald Trump is nothing like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the Argentine generals or the Brazilian colonels.

He is not the homophobic, misogynist, racist, schizophrenic  Beelzebub characterized by the Left.  He is simply a child of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the streets of Queens and New York – an uncultured bourgeois rube with a taste in baroque appointments, bright lights, tinsel, and chorus girls. 

Image result for donald trump at miss universe contest images

He is one of us, although with a lot more money.  He woke up one morning to discover that not only was he the darling of the Middle Class, champion of the working man, but their hero.  He was as surprised as the rest of America after November 8th; but he deserved to win.  He is one of us.

All of which is is irrelevant.  Whether he is an avenging angel, a Hercules sweeping clean the Augean Stables, a Charlemagne saving Western Civilization from the invading Muslim hordes; a Genghis Khan, slaughterer of millions, rapist, expansionist savage, and unstoppable personal crusader; or most likely a Johnny-come-lately,  unexpected, unlikely political reformer in an exceptionalist nation losing its exception, he is here to stay.

Those who take such a dispassionate, historical view of Trump and his presidency – i.e. the inevitability of all possible possibilities – are hooted at, marginalized, and dismissed as nihilists and at best neo-philosophical fence-sitters.  How could they not be outraged? There diffidence is tantamount to treachery.

Nothing of the sort, of course.  These dispassionate realists are simply watching history unfold as it has untold millions of times – the rise and fall of civilizations, autocrats, compassionate visionaries, and bumbling fools.  Nothing new here. Nothing to get exercised about.  No cause for alarm.

The battlefield of this election is not simply littered with the bodies of the fallen; but with the walking wounded – damaged beyond repair, but consigned to living under a reign of evil.  Death would have been preferable.  Seeing him in the White House with his white, gorgeous wife, his white children, and his white billionaire advisers is more than anyone should have to bear.

Image result for images trump family

He signs executive orders like a Gatling gun, leaving no pause for reflection or breath.  He is fulfilling every absurd promise he made during the campaign.  He is reshaping the American landscape.

Progressives are convulsing with pain.  Protests, demonstrations, outpourings of liberal sentiment and solidarity, petitions, and demands are paroxysms of grief and irrelevant to the business of politics. 

In time they may finally accept their defeat,  regroup into a political movement of opposition focused on particularly distasteful policies and programs, and show the force of a loyal opposition; but for now their protests are no more than lamentations.

Time to relax and let go, say the dispassionate observers of history who have seen it all time and time again.  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même, said the French philosopher.  Nothing to get exercised about.

Some concerted political action might blunt or reverse Trump’s edicts and executive orders.  Many a community advisory group has stopped high-rise development or feeder roads through the neighborhood.  The issue is not about the efficacy of political challenge is about the emotional and moral investment in fighting inevitable, predictable, and circular change.  It isn’t worth it.

It is too much to ask of Hillary supporters to sing a hearty Hail to the Chief.  They will never come to that; but a little encouragement to recite a compassionate psalm or a verse of Blake might be in order.

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