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

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Love In The Time Of Trump–Sex, Fantasy, And Existential Romance

Macy Feller was not exactly young, but certainly ‘old enough to know better’ as her parents kept reminding her – a suggestion that her life and career paths had been not exactly either fruitful or they way they had planned.  She, now thirty-something, well-off but not accelerating, not on any particular career path but not forgotten either. In fact it was her parents’ fault – if blame were to be laid anywhere – for her diffidence.  Careers were not all they were cracked up to be, and her apprenticeship in a K Street law firm did nothing to abuse her of that notion. 

As dry and unpalatable as torts, contracts, and liability seemed at first blush, they were nothing of the sort.  There was a bit of the Roman arena in court.  There was nothing like watching the defense squirm as she taunted, feinted, sidestepped, attacked, and delivered  coup de grace, a sword driven up to the hilt as her opponent slowly toppled to the courtroom floor, defeated, and dead.

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This joy of bloody combat was of course not enough to make partner.  It was too in the moment, too joyful.  The firm cared little for theatrics or the dance of the toreadors. It only wanted a winner’s score sheet, full billing, and far more wins than losses.  Nevertheless, Macy felt lucky to have chosen a career which was suited to her personality and character.  Most lawyers get into the profession for the wrong reasons – parental influence, peer pressure, money, consistency, and career longevity – but Macy knew that the law had little to do with any of the above; east of all a stone in the pillar of liberal democracy as her Harvard professors had limned.

No, it was the gladiatorial arenas of fallen warriors and the unmatched vaudevillian, side show antics of the courtroom that appealed to her.  Winning was of course important - she had much in that column to show for her courtroom shows – but it was the bloodied sand, the staggering, defeated enemies, and the absolute, willful pursuit of total victory which excited her.

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Henry Kissinger once said that power was the greatest aphrodisiac, and Macy Feller knew exactly what he meant.  She interpolated of course – she would never ‘sniff at the hems of power’ as Arthur Schlesinger rudely criticized politicians manqué – but still felt that Kissinger was on to something.  There was something exhilarating if not sexual in watching the disassembly of an opponent, reduced to stumbling, mumbling, and collapsing before her attack. 

And then against all odds and presumptions Donald Trump won the 2016 election.  He was not supposed to win.  Hillary Clinton, groomed with an Ivy League pedigree, married to a two-term President, a stint as Secretary of State, and a term in the US Senate, was the anointed and all but sure victor in November; but out of nowhere came this dirty street fighter, squire of beauty queens, television prima donna, New York real estate mogul, Las Vegas showman with nothing to lose.

He was not only a political outsider, but the outsider, the man who cared nothing about Capitol Hill or Pennsylvania Avenue propriety.  ‘Drain the swamp’ he said, dismissive of Washington and the incestuous insiders that had ruled both parties for generations.

Trump beat Hillary soundly, and for the next three years her gob-smacked, gut-punched, disillusioned supporters first dropped to their knees in disbelief then rose up in anger and hatred, vowing to dismember and dismiss the new president.

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They had no idea, however, whom they were up against.  Progressives thought that if the ‘truth’ were told, the poseur in the White House would be dismissed for the charlatan, the misogynist, racist, homophobe that he was.  They challenged and expected him to respond in kind, to defend himself, citing chapter and verse from his own playbook; but to their surprise, his  response was nothing of the sort.  Trump answered with scurrilous tweets, ad hominem attacks, distortions, and shameless innuendo.  He called Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the progressive Left, ‘Pocahontas’ for her self-interested claim to be an American Indian.  He mocked disabled reporters, went whole hog on hairdos, fat shamed, and paid no respect to the ‘diverse’ crowd of political pretenders.   No gay man, Latino woman, or old socialist would get any respect from him.

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The more progressives shouted in hysterical wonder at the man’s irredentism, his shameless dismissal of modern liberalism, and his downright cracker, backwoods, inbred, genetic ugliness, the more he piled on.  They thought of Trump as a circus sideshow freak, an aberration in the Utopian trajectory.

Yet Trump did not go away.  In fact with ever charge of misogyny, racism, and historical ignorance leveled at him, the President had responded in kind and then some; but progressives, brought up in a culture of tolerance and inclusivity, did not know what to make of his use of gutter language.  They had no response for an unreconstructed, politically incorrect, politician who not only disagreed with their idealistic views of Utopia and a grand, inclusive future, but who laughed at them.   They were unprepared for a populist vaudevillian with not an academic bone in his body who mouthed the existential interpretations of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Sartre.  Utopia?  Bullshit.

All of which is to say that Macy Feller was in her element.  She was living in a country whose President, for the first time in her memory, thought like she did.  Trump was unconcerned about position papers, courthouse rectitude, geopolitical compromise, and nostrums about the poor.   He was a Nietzschean nihilist after her own heart.

Of course there were thousands of Macy Fullers, men and women who were just as disengaged from politics as she, just as amoral in attitude and philosophy, and just as happy to live and let live as long as they could lead an unencumbered life; but it did take a special twist of serendipity for her and her lover to meet.  It was a genius cluster, a coincidence of genes and upbringing, and a particularly unusual correspondence. 

D.H. Lawrence wrote of sexual epiphany , a sexual coming which, when achieved by the perfect symmetry of dominance and submission would lead to an existential understanding.  While many critics have dismissed Lawrence for his excess – his windy prose and his over-claims of sexual potency – others have thought him right.  There is nothing like sexual symmetry for good sex.

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Macy and her lover did not match Lawrence’s sexual equipoise.  Neither he nor she had pronounced dominant or submissive traits; but it was the perfect harmony of their ‘spiritual indifference’ which made them sexually complicit.  It was they against everyone they knew and could imagine.

When a circus performer shows up in a political arena, only the defensive, the arriere garde bay at the moon.  The very few open the flaps of the big tent and welcome him in.  He is one of us, ‘one of us’, goes the refrain of the movie Freaks.  Only the insiders, the ‘freaks’ who see his native intelligence and spontaneity, say 'Come on in'.

Image result for images movie freaks

Macy and her lover were too engaged with each other to consider political sexual maturity; but had they had the interest, they would have concluded that no Lawrentian existential spa would be right for true believers.

The affair between Macy and her lover lasted only a few months.  Love affairs, even concluded within a unique supra-sexual context, cannot exist forever; and in fact by their very nature they are temporary. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley, having found sexual union and complementarity with the gamekeeper, Mellors, assumed a lifetime of continuing satisfaction with him; but life intervened, and she had to be content with knowing that even though such complementarity could exist, it was beyond reach.  Macy knew it could exist, had it, and had no regrets when it ended.

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