Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Genre Wednesdays: silver-lined Commander-in-Chuff

On dark days, there is the serious pursuit of the silver lining, and then there is the pursuit of an even wispier kind of glimmer. A thing that is not really a ray of hope exactly, but stands in the same relationship to a ray of hope as a bump of some cheap and nasty norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibiting quasi-legal high crystals stands to cocaine. These are the possibilities you entertain entirely for the short term affective hit they can give, in full if somewhat suppressed knowledge that that is what you're doing. These are like the reasons that dreams give you for going from one frame to the next. They aren't even really stories you tell yourself to make yourself feel better. They are more like stories you buy on your Kindle to make yourself feel like if you read them they might make you feel better. They aren't much different from scrolling through puppy pics, only the puppy pics are formally morphed into political analysis.

Inevitably, this genre -- which might be a bit too fantastic to include among genres of the fantastic, but where else would you put it? -- has a certain ingrownness about it. Its narrative forms are difficult to make social, difficult to share with others, because they don't really invoke conventional communicative norms so much as seek loopholes and glitches in those norms. Trying to tell these things would be like trying to put the pleasure you get from tonguing a mouth ulcer into the form of a kiss.

Sometimes, perhaps, if you are willing to filter such notions through powerful abstracting platitudes, they might just flutter from one person to another. That Trump's bark is worse than his bite; that history is complex and you never know what anything will lead to; that this is why we have checks and balances, and besides, it's hard to make progress down-ticket while your party holds the White House; that what will be will be; that this is a wake-up call; that maybe now America will finally have to admit to itself what it's actually like; that if you're Pakistani or Yemeni the unpredictability of Trump could be a pro compared to the alternative; that we can still love each other and make the difference where we are and those differences are never small; that Trump doesn't exist in a vacuum and this way those supporters can be disappointed by their demagogue's lack of a YA science fictional wall with Mexico the way some of us were disappointed by Obama's deportations and drones; that Trump's defeat would have been little more than imperialist neoliberalism successfully adopting the mantle of a fierce, principled, and progressive defence of basic decency, a mantle with which its skin might easily begin to merge; that maybe now we'll get four years of Trump followed by eight of oh Elizabeth Warren instead of four years of Hillary followed by eight years of oh Ted Cruz; that you will not believe the ferocity with which the world, having been grabbed by the pussy, is now going to fight back; that maybe the new president means it about shaking up NATO, or about tariffs and protectionism and turning back the tide on outsourcing, and who knows where stuff like that might lead. There have been two reasons why these wisps have not really coalesced to sufficient stability to meet the low bar of -- not "plausible-sounding," but -- mistakably implausible-sounding platitudes that might feel good to momentarily entertain. The first reason is something that happened early in the night, if not earlier still; something that would have been true even had Hillary edged Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and some other state. All those fucking racists. Fuck them, including the ones who didn't vote. The second reason is the fucking planet.

Several temporary populations spring into existence on shadowy days like these, and then disperse when things get normalized, when our eyes adjust and it's as if it brightened. Maybe you are part of one of those temporary populations: the one with renewed political will, or at least a fight or flight reflex going crazy about now. Maybe you're a kind of ephemerid, possessing a perfect perspective and a whose mind is a towering cloud of ice. You're a kind of ephemerid, a creature who only lives for a few days, only the few days you live are scattered across time: you live only on the days after barbarian coronations. Loosely speaking. You might wanna lock yourself into something. Joining a mailing list might not be enough. Think big. You might not see this version of yourself for four more years. Do something you in four years' time would be proud of.

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