Might As Well Trump

Two hypotheses regarding Donald Trump’s surge in the polls.

The first: Trump’s plain-speaking approach serves as a political corrective, a rallying cry against tired postmodern identity politics. His campaign is a referendum against evil Progressives and their audacious demands that all persons deserve dignity and a chance to succeed.

The second: Trump’s rise signals the next stage in the natural progression of a morally bankrupt political system that bears no relation to the people it claims to represent.

Ann Coulter but with less testosterone, Trump “gets” nothing and he’ll get nothing done. He’s the political voice of disaffected Americans who sacrifice their economic interests for the promise of making America great again—code for kicking out Mexicans and drug-testing welfare recipients.

Obama became a celebrity president. Trump wants to be celebrity-in-chief—executive producer of a new brand of must-see TV.

Sensitive Subject

In my encounters with other depressed and anxious people I have found behind their struggles a deep sense of compassion. Are they compassionate as a result of living with mental illness or is their “sickness” a natural response to being highly sensitive to their own bodies and the needs of others?

Like Forrest Gump says about whether we are free or determined by outside forces, maybe it’s both. Maybe both are happening at the same time. Sensitive folks take things harder than most people, and in coping with their pain want to ease the suffering of others.

I’m a sensitive guy, no doubt. While we’ve made some progress, it’s still unmanly to be sensitive. Dare I say many alpha males find sensitive guys “womanly,” or another hot-button name for lady parts? Don’t forget what term middle school boys (and grown men who act like boys) hurl at anyone deemed “gay.”

That’s the thing. Sometimes I feel the need to come out as straight. Just because I write poetry or don’t wave my dick around and drool like a frat boy, doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer or almost any woman who is both: (1) conscious; and (2) in my line of sight.

Maybe it’s my below-normal testosterone levels or how high my voice sounds over the phone. Thank God I’m not into musical theater and don’t have any fashion sense.

Okay, now I’m being a dick. But if you’re reading, J-Law, I hope you get my point.

The Nine Billion Names Of God

In The Perfect Crime Jean Baudrillard references Arthur C. Clarke’s short story “The Nine Billion Names of God” to set up his critique of virtual reality and our desire to actualize the world in its totality.

Clarke’s story centers on a group of Tibetan monks who for centuries have been transcribing with great care the nine billion names of God. Logging the final name, we’re told, will trigger the end of the world.

It’s a tiresome task so the monks call in technicians from IBM. Computers finish the job in a few months.

On page 27 of The Perfect Crime Baudrillard describes man’s fate: “As they walk back down into the valley, the technicians, who did not really believe in the prophecy, are aghast to see the stars going out one by one.”

I believe the monks not only knew their project would end the world but actively wished for it.

The rise of IBM and its solution-focused IT professionals facilitated a quicker exit. Computers relieved the monks of their duties. Ethics and the Middle Way no match for algorithms and HTML.

Computers relieve us all from the burden of being human. Tools for the realization of every fantasy, computers fulfill our secret wish to disappear. Social media posts serving as our collective suicide note.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops communicate for us, but not necessarily on our behalf. “I’ll text you,” we say, as if the text creates you—a “you” we never meet. If the medium is the message, today the message is singular: “Show me your text and I’ll show you mine.”

In the valley of the shadow of tech we are all monks—all “IBMers”—exchanging the pleasure of face-to-face interaction for the stupor of screen-to-screen manipulation.

All For Ought

The Three Major Musts (irrational beliefs that make us miserable) from author Will Ross:

  1. I must do well and win the approval of others or else I am no good.
  2. Other people must do “the right thing” or else they are no good and deserve to be punished.
  3. Life must be easy, without discomfort or inconvenience.

Nothing and nobody’s perfect. Therapists and direct experience keep telling me this.

It hasn’t stopped me this week from going all the way back—197 posts ago—to my first Sharp Left Turns entry in 2008. Going back, that is, to check for errors. Broken links. Questionable word choice. An errant comma or block quote improperly marked.

It’s kinda nuts.

I want to present my best work, my best self. High standards matter, but having everything turn out just right is the dream of robots or super-smart little green men from Mars.

Overthinking past performances drains pleasure of its fantasy, and fantasy of its pleasure. A blog’s charm is its immediacy, its quick reaction time. Events happen and words spontaneously flow. Obsessing over minor flaws tends to kill the mood, like tracing a lover’s mole during foreplay.

For me perfectionism is about control. If things aren’t in order I freak out. Somehow a single mistake detracts from the overall message. What’s behind this? Essentially I want you to think I’m clever, that my thoughts matter, that my words speak magic. I’m looking for acceptance that’s impossible to attain—impossible because not everyone will (or should) like me all the time.

If the world were perfect, there’d be no need for perfectionists. No need for humans, really—by the grace of God made wholly imperfect.