A Stranger in a Strange Land

You can’t go home again… nor ought you try.

Thomas Wolfe, dear brother, lost and gone, but never far from my ear, I remember reading your wild books the first time, raging around that mountain college campus, no one giving a damn, you and I silently trading stories in the catacombs of my soul.

But the trade was mostly one way as you had lived and I was just a cheap 1980s version of a half-drunk Childe Harold and Eugene Gant filled with great sorrows at the ruins of humanity, but equally grandiose visions, hopes, for a future rebuilt on that wreckage.

There was no way back. I had no business where I was, no life, the marrow had been taken from the cracked bones of that place a century before my wayward birth. Wasted. Gold and copper gouged out of the earth, the miners’ families scattered to make do at… whatever.

What was there to remain for?

But I thought “home” lay off and far away, a “someday” as much as “somewhere.”

Thirty-something years would pass before I discovered there is no home here to be found or made, exactly, nothing permanent or even aeviternal. All is flux and fire in this world and this is the world in which I was made to live, to make a life, to share, travel within, to receive. To leave behind.

I am Gershon, a stranger in a strange land, the wanderer, the one who prepares.

Thirty-something years wrong as I could be before that stupidity in me, the haunting ghost of optimism that lingered from childhood, was buried with the whispering corpse of pessimism. Life is here and to be cared for, cherished in all its imperfection — what it amounts to, we’ll see. Neither good or bad, but what can be made of it or endured; what lies beyond is not my business.

My suspicions are that there will be an age of more ruination before anyone cares to build something better again on the wreckage I began to glimpse 33, 34 years back — I will not live to see that. That is my fate; perhaps yours as well, whoever you are. There is no going back — what lies forward may be an even more ridiculous form of ruination.

A petty, greedy, cheap age this turned out to be; gaudy, all surface and shallow as a mirror. Ages such as this come about… they can be the end of civilizations. We’ll see, in this case.

I’m a stranger here, sent to witness and wander. What it will or won’t end up mattering is as much beyond me as HaShem. And in my case, I must become who I must be.

Sleep well, Thomas Wolfe, Byron, Goya, Hogarth, Voltaire, Swift. and so many others close and far — we each play our roles. None small but most unnoticed. How well we pull it off, we’ll see in the long stretch of time and fiery change.

Richard Van Ingram
22 January 2017

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I’ll Miss Your Voice

Everyone comes from somewhere.

That’s one of those things about human life we get no choice about whatsoever, though we do get to interpret what it meant or didn’t and, eventually, to tell our own story. Some of us write it down; some talk it out; yet others, a bit of both. What isn’t said is as important as what is… and our interpretation tends to change as we do.

There is what happened, who was involved; what it did to us, for us, and what we did with it — are we victim? victimizer? vengeful? insightful? Do we merely survive at all costs or come to see others as integral to our being who we must become? Do we drift, moved around on the current of events and others’ interpretations of who you seem to be to them, play a role in their drama, or do you create your own life — which is always dramatic, theatrical, roles thrust upon us or chosen or created?

Patterns, patterns, patterns — they repeat in all of us more than most notice, a needle stuck in a scratched groove on the record that becomes part of our approach to life. Some never jump the scratch or learn to incorporate it as a pop and crackle in the tune: imperfection rejected, not owned, embraced, even loved.

This, because perfection is not possible for a human being or desirable; a perfect imperfection, yes: becoming good enough, struggling with what one was handed to make the artistic achievement that becomes… each of us. Interesting or not; creative or stereotypical; repetitious in self-destruction, the use and destruction of others, or in slow, relentless spiraling, upwards, outwards, downwards, inwards… becoming more and more oneself a bare hair’s-width at a time.

Or just stuck in that scratch on the groove, repeating the pattern, repeating the pattern, repeating the pattern… refusing to choose and struggle a way out, or deal with it at all.

Addiction, complexes, bipolar disorder — all words, clinical and cold, for a certain way of life bearing deep scars and scratches. Carrie Fisher’s life had these. Oh, God, but so much more, eventually. She made great art and fantastic written and spoken autobiography from all this. A famous, talented self-destructive father and a famous , talented actress mother; a close brother; a daughter whom she loved. And many lovers… all passing through and passing by, or bypassed.

Drugs — copious, self-medicating; bouts of mania and depression, mood storms terrible enough to drive her from self-loathing to fantastically destructive plans.

She’s one of the few people I know of who volunteered for ECT to stop the depressions at the cost of her memory. So, in part, she wrote to remember, to interpret and re-interpret, to revivify what the darkness swallowed. One does not enter ECT lightly, not at all. Some never quite return from it… but that’s not the mission, to return to repeat what keeps happening, but to return and overcome, to jump the scratch in the record and keep going, keep spiraling.

Over the past six months, I worked my way through Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” and “Shockaholic” as read/told by her in recorded book form. Watched a performance of “Wishful Drinking” onstage on cable a couple of months back late one night. Bought her new book, “The Princess Diarist” two weeks ago and began that, reading on my own this time, an early Hanukkah gift to myself from the woman who was half in love with being “Princess Leia” and half despairing that role would forever overshadow her novels, her own work, and autobiographical explorations.

Since age 11, Carrie Fisher has wandered in and out of my life disguised as Princess, now General Leia Organa — the princess who did not need saving but was doing the saving — and as a novelist, scriptwriter, and spelunker into the depths of her own psyche and history… all with wit, irony, self-deprecation, yet… strength. Power, the real thing. Dignity.

And as one plagued with Bipolar I Disorder. Me, too. There’s quite a bit in her writing I “get” — the inside joke on all people suffering mental illness who learn to make the illness suffer from us. Yes, I’m classified Bipolar I, too, in case anyone forgot, and we were diagnosed around the same time, or the same ages. What she doesn’t say, the space between the lines, is as important for me as what she does, what she implies. So it is with all genuine people, I reckon.

There she was today, nine years older than me, done here. Gone on, work finished, heart literally broken flying between heaven and earth. The Baal Shem Tov taught that HaShem grants us only so many words in this world: when you’ve said your say, you are finished. The point: Be willing to speak in such a way that what is said is worth dying for once you’ve spoken. Make it count for something.

That Carrie Fisher did. She did so for many; and I am one who listened in on her conversation, who appreciated and valued her work and so, her. No, I never met her, but I met something of her, what she wished to share, no malice involved. Her story is now a part of mine, a great gift to me… so I’ve a burden to pass on what I received through her.

Ms. Fisher, I won’t say goodbye. You’re not gone — you’re just not here except in the form of those words and images that mean much to me, and in the example of riding the illness, making it sing as part of her own wild chorus, scratches, pops, and all.

But I will miss your voice.

27 December 2016
Richard Van Ingram
#CarrieFisher

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For All and For None

Trepidation — that is what I experience much of the time when I speak of anything important, make an image, write words.  The struggle with this, for me, is intense and often crippling: Is this a genuine fear of hubris — of trespassing on matters I am not called to explore?  Or is it a form of grandiosity — and, mind you, grandiosity resides in the strangest of locales?  I mean, am I afraid to speak because I “know” many will hear  and some believe?

Do I really possess that latter power?  People will be moved to action because of my words and drawings?

That, truly, is foolishness.

The power to speak, to a degree, is something I can perform; the power to speak rashly and with poor judgment, even incorrectly out of naivete or stupidity — that is a defect that often possesses me.  The desire to please: well, that is a wretched thing indeed and often lies behind the moments I’ve played fast and loose with truthfulness in favor of rhetoric.  A tongue may be golden because it passes on a genuine gift; or it may be but gold-plated because it is manipulative, seeking lesser things, seeking ultimately to receive, not share, not help, not mentor.

Those moments, the latter sort, are fewer and fewer as I mature, and haste born of passion is something I spend time in extinguishing.  Delay and consideration are not luxuries, not for a human being — they are among the necessities.

So, I can speak, I can write, I can make art — and these may emerge from deep meditation and consideration, restrained, or they may be extravagant and self-aggrandizing. Even the silence can be grandiose if not properly motivated… and no one, outside myself, can tell or judge my motivations in such matters without themselves attempting to substitute a manipulating fiction for my own story, the story that is my autobiography, is me in this world.

As for treading where angels fear to go… that is the birthright and responsibility of a human.  The world, this world, the world of life was no more made for angels than it was for monstrosities — morally stunted or deformed egomaniacs or zealots who never doubt themselves because “They Know.”

“They Know” what the Absolute Truth is, as if they were gods, and they know what they desire, and they will possess what they want or destroy any who get in their way or resist.  In such manner, people make themselves a living plague, something to be completely avoided or resisted.

Angels have no choice.  Monstrosities choose to serve the black depths of insatiable ego at any cost, rationalizing and creating whatever fiction suits them best in the moment and in the long-term.

‘Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” ‘ Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

I’ve considered this passage from the sage for a very long time.  Years.  In fact, I meditated on it before knowing Hillel (or anyone else) summed this very human crisis up as succinctly as he did.

Notice the three questions: One without the next is misleading.  And the first question has, itself, two portions, and if that question is not adequately faced with some humility, all is lost.  The error in interpretation will breed a deadly monstrosity called “egoism.”

The commentaries point out that, in the first question, two “I”s, not one, are referred to — The first is said to be the sacred, holy “soul,” my – and your – true self that has never departed from the presence of HaShem – The Ineffable One.  That “I” is pure and untouched by this world, in a deep sense — the sense of the prayer, “My soul within me, she is pure.”

Obviously, I am not pure in any really meaningful way — I am full of error, stupidity, foolishness, imperfections, even evil.  Part of me is stained black as night.  I have done wrong, many, many times.  But that other “I” — she has done no wrong and will not.  How odd.

Why?  How can such a paradox exist as a unified “me”?

Because, in part, the burning mystery of that Spark of the Divine — the “image and likeness” – is the “I” whom I must strive to bring forth within this world of history, circumstance, flux, through the vehicle of my actions and intentions, however limited.  The first “I” is my destiny, the one that I must choose to realize and make my vital project, that guides and gives form to my life in whatever time and in whatever place I am given to perform it.

If justice is to be here in the world, I must choose it, value it, interpret it, and become a just person by consistent and painful degrees.  If there is to be mercy, forgiveness, courage, thoughtfulness, carefulness, generosity, peacefulness, beauty, truthfulness, hopefulness… if there are to be qualities such as these, I must bring them into the world in my own way without departing from their standards, their requirements.

Thus, if I am not for me — if my deepest Self does not shine even dimly for me, guide me, orient me, direct me to true Light, and if I do not choose to “become who I am,” to actually perform my proper labor, my destiny, my work… no one else can force me, perform my work – however modest – in my place.  No one else can become me… or you, or any of us.

In the words of Ortega y Gasset, paraphrased, “We are each irreplaceable, each necessary,” all of us, each pursuing her destiny, all supporting her.  Human existence is a matter of “all of us or none of us.”

Perhaps human life has always seemed cheap to most people — I do not know.  We are faced, once more, with entire groups of people, majorities, who have decided those “unlike them” are “The Other”: and The Other is the object of fear and hatred, to be expelled, monitored, locked up, destroyed.  Instead of beholding an Alter-Ego, “another I,” when considering others, they take full possession of “I” for themselves and themselves alone, their tribe, their beliefs, their skin color, their fictions.  Anyone else, any dissent, any culture, individuality, creativity, belief, even tribe or color or any other form of love than the majority’s becomes threatening.

Threats, if taken seriously enough, get eradicated after being randomly defined as “unnatural,” “wicked,” “abominable,” “lies,” “leeches,” — any and everything except “human” and sacred.  Criminals by birth.

So – “If I am only for myself, who am I?”  Even HaShem “stooped” to grant humans existence out of nothing; The Divinity shared with us the great gift of being, and there was no necessity in it.  We did not have to come into existence — any one of us or all of us together, even this or any other universe.  Even the possibility of universes is not, in itself, self-explicable in the sense of metaphysical being.  The Divine began – as far as we are concerned – by sharing something beyond comprehension with us, out of a free, creative choice, out of mercy.

Out of an inexplicable love and friendship.

And what is given, then, is given to be shared, not horded up.  Not given here but refused out of disdain there.  We receive, we learn, we create in order to pass on, to share, not because it must be “earned” by the other, but because if I do not share, who do I become by my selfishness? How can I become myself, my true self, without acknowledging the other?

It is not as if I, myself sprang into being without others — in reality, first, there are the others: only afterwards and slowly is there the “I” who exists in the world, who begins to value and choose and create.  I emerge from the others and their labor.  They gave me language, they gave me beliefs, ideas, they taught me to think, to value, they gave me culture, they passed on to me certain valuable (and not so valuable) practices — and even where wrong or misguided, I cannot turn around and perform the labor — give the gift — of improving, reforming, or even excising errors from the culture for the future without, first, being brought up and given certain gifts.

“If not now, when?”

When will I choose to learn that I and other implicate one another, require one another?  When will I begin to doubt myself long enough in to hear my “True Self,” my calling, my vocation, my destiny?  When will I perform who I am — become who I truly am?

Now.  Or never.  You and I have a now that is ever-passing; soon enough, there will be no “now” that includes me, even as a memory.  Only a now that includes whether or not I did my work, did it well, did it poorly… and no one save HaShem will have any memory of that.

“…[I]s it your reputation that’s bothering you? But look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands. The people who praise us; how capricious they are, how arbitrary. And the tiny region it takes place. The whole earth a point in space – and most of it uninhabited.”

Marcus Aurelius, THE MEDITATIONS

No, it is not that your life is meaningless: It is that your life and the lives of all other people are the only conduits of meaningfulness in this universe we know anything about.  Yet meaningfulness and fame, fortune, comfort, and other preferable situations — there is no link between these two sets of things at all except accidentally, in terms of “fortune.”  If one only lives for the “preferable” and falls apart when these depart — as they must, one will never strive for meaningfulness.  One will fail to value it.  One may even grow to find meaning repulsive and painful.

Hence, monstrosities are born, create themselves, serve themselves, demand service for themselves, all while ignoring and discarding… themselves.

And, so, we arrive at the end of all I wish to say for the moment.

Richard Van Ingram

20 November 2016

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It HAS Happened Here.

It HAS Happened Here – free pdf

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31 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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Trump the Woman-Hating Racist, Neo-Nazi, White Trash, Klan Suck-Up.

Has Trump screwed the pooch,finally? It appears he’s screwed everything and everyone else with just as little care.
Yes, this version [link below] has all the “dirty words.” You didn’t care about him summoning up every white trash supremacist piece of shit in the country; you did not care he summoned up every neo-Nazi in America AND Europe; you don’t care he hates Muslims; you do not care he hates Latinos; you do not care he hates black people; you do not care he is the most openly racist candidate since Strom Thurmond, if not more so and casually.

He is an authoritarian.

He is in love with dictators, including Putin.

He has elevated conspiracy “theorists” — liars and mythologists –to high levels in his party.

He has destroyed the RNC and converted it nearly completely into a party of White Nationalism.

Mike Pence, the ultra right-wing Conservative Evangelical theocrat, pretends he doesn’t say or do things that are on video and taped — probably so he can run next go ’round, being as opportunistic as Trump. And you were STILL going to vote for this shithead.

But “dirty words” and obvious misogyny — as if we haven’t seen 16 tons of misogyny out of him for 40 years — that’s going to be the “last straw”? I doubt it. I don’t have that much faith in humanity or “white” Americans, to be honest or them who suck up to them.

He’ll fake an apology and you’ll say, “but Bill Clinton” — as if Bill Clinton is up for office in this election, and you’ll say “Hillary is horrible” — as if that’s not the outcome of 35 years of right-wing propaganda mixed with Hillary’s occasional fuck-up… even though, morally and in terms of character and judgment, she’s STILL a paragon of virtue and intelligence when compared with the bully boy in the 70 year-old body.

I hope he doesn’t drop out. I hope he and your worthless white trash party loses, goes on the junk-heap of history, and you conservatives come to your senses. Reform your party. Purge the Tea Party, the nihilists, the Nazis, and go back pre-Goldwater and start all over looking to Eisenhower for something like guidance. Or maybe Lincoln, but, of course, he’s too damn liberal for you, so let’s take it slow.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/donald-trump-access-hollywood-vulgar-comments-hot-mic

7 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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AN OPEN MESSAGE ON FORGIVENESS TO THE ONE WHOM IT CONCERNS:

You have asked for forgiveness and I will assume your intentions are adequate if not pure; we are human and humans are not perfect, neither you nor me.

You are forgiven. I bear you no malice. I never did and I forgave you weeks ago. As for reconciliation, there can be none between us, It is not required and I see nothing beneficial for myself or my family, for whom I am responsible, coming from that — just the opposite. So, formally, aloud, I forgive you and take full responsibility for my role in the wrong, and I am deeply sorry for it and for playing a role in the confusion.

Yes, I am working to convert, to become a Jew and, no, I will never be good at it and yes, I will always in some sense be between two worlds. I will never be “Jewish enough.” But I can try and I do so.

You will see this as a) my FB account is public and b) you use other accounts to read my page. While this is odd if not manipulative, I forgive that, too. This will also appear on my essay page which you have referenced, so I know it is read.  I have nothing bad to say about you or your work and will not. It is admirable. So, there will be no point in further letters or emails. I say what I say and attempt to mean what I mean given what I am shown as reality. I will have nothing more to say about the matter to anyone. It is as if it never happened with the exception of the fact I cannot risk reconciliation. HaShem understands my history and limits and that is good enough.

So go your way and be at peace. I wish you well, good health, and continued success. Shanah Tovah Umetukah.

Richard Van Ingram

A short summary of the rabbinical teachings I am following is quoted below and was written by Aron Hirt-Manheimer based on the writings of Dr. Solomon Schimmel:

“What does Judaism teach us about how to seek forgiveness from someone we have wronged?

“First, we must recognize we’ve wronged another human being. Second, we should try, whenever possible, to apologize to the person whom we’ve injured. It is not enough to apologize with words, because words can be cheap. It’s very important that the apology also includes, where possible, actions of reparation (repairing the hurt) and restitution (restoring the situation to where it was before the misdeed). For example, if we have caused financial loss, we have to be willing to pay compensation.

“The highest form of repentance requires a fundamental transformation of one’s values and behavior. For example, a person who has lived his or her life narcissistically may need to realize there is more to life than just satisfying the self. He or she may then resolve to focus on helping others. In Judaism, we refer to a shift of such magnitude as t’shuvah, literally a returning to Jewish values.

“What if, after all this, the victim still refuses to forgive?

“Then you have the right to say, “I’ve done everything I can. I don’t have to go on with this guilt. I feel bad that the victim is not forgiving me, but there is nothing more that I can do. I forgive myself.” In such cases, the process of self-forgiveness is very therapeutic.

“Can there be forgiveness without reconciliation?

“You can forgive somebody and not want to be reconciled. For example, if you’ve been in an abusive marriage, you might take pity on your abusive partner and be willing to forgive, but not necessarily want to continue living with that person.

“Is there a prescribed period of penitence on the Jewish calendar?

“Our tradition specifies that we do t’shuvah during the 10 days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, but not only on those days. We are supposed to be engaged in this process every day, every minute, asking ourselves, “How can I improve myself?”

“This teaching is reflected in the rabbinic aphorism: “One should always repent the day before one dies.” Not knowing when that will be, we are obliged to repent every day.”

http://www.reformjudaism.org/blog/2016/09/19/how-harness-healing-power-forgiveness-and-repentance

3 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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Free comix

http://comixunderground.tumblr.com/

Remember, I’m sharing many of my underground comix and pamphlets free online at the above link.  What the hell.  Just go and scroll down the page until you see something interesting.  Enjoy.

23 September 2016

Richard Van Ingram

Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
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So, I got interviewed…

Well, there it is, kids. The one and only interview with me that got published from the RNC Convention in Cleveland. Go see what dozens of major news outlets that interviewed me missed out on and an excellent high school paper in Michigan, The Blaze, chose to notice. Not too shabby if I do have to say it myself. To be absolutely truthful, I’m happier I reached young people than adults — USA adults these days strike me, largely, as a lost cause.
“If I am not for myself, who will be? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
#art #politicalcartoons #protest art #Cleveland #FlushingHighSchool
#Trump #Election2016 #ComixCast #RichardVanIngram #TheBlaze
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Human Wisdom, Hard Won

Monday Confessions:

I am an idiot at times, completely naive. Under normal circumstances, I am not manipulable, being highly suspicious of people I do not truly know, no matter their reputation, no matter how much I admire them. This is not paranoia — this is the nature of trust. Up front, even if I like or even love someone in any fashion, I will only feed out enough rope to see how far the person runs with it, what they’ll do. Because even the best of people are capable of unimaginable weirdness, yes, including me. Me, far from being “the best of people.”

Often enough, this general practice has saved me from finding that metaphorical rope tied around my neck and me swinging from a tree — even for what seems to the other the best of intentions or desires. Or tied up in someone’s basement in indentured servitude. Had they known me better, as my friends do, they would not have bothered: I do not follow commands well. While a good sheepdog, I am an independent one with no human master; I was granted the freedom to be my own and to make right use of that freedom.

In conversation, I may say things such as, “Yes.” This does not imply agreement at all times. Rather, it means I hear what you’re saying. I’m listening closely. I’m looking for patterns which may be beneficial or harmful. Please, speak more so I can better judge with whom and what I’m dealing. I’m feeding you the rope and assume you are as well.

And I am patient — which is a skill and an activity. It means I do not often make snap judgments or decisions; nor do I make decisions, if possible, that do not include escape clauses. Plan B, C, D, and so on. I plan for the worst possible outcomes — if they do not arise, I am thankful; if they do, I am thankful I planned ahead.

Knowing what I do about people, reality is, anyone could turn out to be dangerous in some sense or not truly working towards even a similar destiny or calling. Sometimes, discovering this amazes me and I see the idiocy in me for travelling along as far as I did with such a person. Because I desired things to be good and different,

But desires and feelings are not reality, not outer reality: At best, under examination, they tell me about myself, my beliefs, assumptions, values; but nothing about another person and nothing about whether my beliefs, assumptions, or values are good or truthful. No, that requires a great deal of meditation and self-doubt. And time. And that requires the skill of patience to overcome the default setting of impatience we are all born with.

So, though made an idiot, I do not remain one. My naiveté is subsequently diminished just a bit. And I am rarely surprised. Overtaken for a moment, maybe, but not surprised it happened.

One can trust a person to the degree of the worst thing they’ve done to you or habitually do. And that to the point trust may have to be completely withdrawn, regardless of cost; sometimes, it may be earned back; sometimes, the better part of human wisdom demands that it never be offered again.

Yes, that applies to me as well.

22 August 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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The Living Rorschach Test

All Along The Watchtower

WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

© 1968 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1996 by Dwarf Music

There he was.  Saw his helicopters coming in to the Quicken Building because, you know, he sleeps in New York, not podunk Cleveland, Ohio.  That would not sound sexy enough — that would tarnish the image, sleeping among the commoners, even of the political party he now owns, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.

I was there on Day Zero, the new beginning, the deformation of the United States of America: Me, down in the streets drawing political cartoons and observational sketches of the goings on, trying to make sense of utter senselessness.  Which, of course, is my calling as a philosopher; so I was switching back and forth among three personas — the observer, the theorist, and the satirist.    Cleveland, Ohio, a beautiful place with wonderful people, interesting people, most of whom were in hiding or hustling “Hillary for Prison 2016” tee shirts on the sidewalks, not because they believed in that, but because they were going to fleece these sons of bitches for invading their town.

One of the guys I was with said he asked a vendor, a black man, why he was selling those shirts and worse.

“Leave me alone, man,” was the response, “you’ve got your hustle, I’ve got mine.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” and those RNC conventioneers had “sucker” written all over them.  Marks, every last one of them.  And you, too, could see that, assuming you tuned in to any of the floor action from the convention.  Suckers for believing in the man with the weird hair who helicoptered in and out of the Quicken Center so he did not have to get up close and personal with his filthy flock or run the risk of being questioned by a reporter who may have had the audacity to press him for something more substantive than an off the wall, fact-free assertion or a slogan.

If I heard “build a wall” or “ban all Muslims” or “Make America Safe Again” once that week, I heard it a bloody blue million times.  What I did not hear was why those were good things, much less possible things, what they would accomplish, and, certainly, I never heard how it would get done.  Those latter things are above the pay grade of the citizen and voter: Trump will just do it.

Trust me.  Trust me,” as he says often and loudly.

Law and Order — you know, like Nixon, and the return of the Silent Majority.  Rip-off after rip-off, from Trump’s slogans to Melania’s plagiarized speech.  And the suckers don’t care while the rest of you have given up.  It doesn’t matter what the man says, truly — it punches the emotional buttons of frightened, angry white people; it keeps him the subject of every news and infotainment program 24 hours a day; it creates a shiny caucasian fantasy of a sparking, brown-free land where “foreigners” do not belong, where everyone is a certain, acceptable form of Evangelical Christian, where “our culture and heritage” are never again tainted by notions from alien sources.

Not that any of these people know any history or are cultured, in any meaningful sense.  Or else they’d know the strength of Western culture at its best was always that it would borrow and absorb ideas and beliefs from anywhere, adjust itself, correct itself.  That it was revitalized and saved by the Moors of Al-Andalus who preserved Greek learning for the world and a better form of mathematics and science and medicine.  Those Moors, black people, Muslim, reached the heights of civilized life and rescued, made possible… a future worthy of humans.

“Ban all Muslims” indeed.

These people know nothing of The Enlightenment that once fought to rescue humanity from superstition, religious enthusiasm, monarchical absolutism and despotism.  They know nothing of the hard-won Western value of “tolerance,” or the establishment of “human rights.”  They know nothing of Voltaire’s 18th c. war on “being put to the question” — torture, in other words — or the real meaning of his battle cry, “Ecrasez l’Infame!”

Torture the terrorists, even harsher this time!

Law and Order.  Make America Safe Again.  Build the wall.

Believe me.

Sucker.

He’s got his hustle, too, this Donald J. Trump.

By all appearances, he is a human, an all-too-human human.  But look closely and you will see what has become clearer to me over the preceding months, finally confirmed on the streets of Cleveland.

Trump is an empty space, a vacuum, a back hole.  An ink blot and, so, a walking Rorschach Test.  That’s the man’s interior — there is nothing meaningful in itself there at all.  There never has been.  He has no belief in anything of value beyond himself… whom he does not value enough to wonder at.  He believes in appearances, in gaudy material things, in the trophy wives, in his brand, “TRUMP,” which, for a nominal service fee can be and has been pasted on anything.  Because, in itself, it means nothing, stands for nothing, is nothingness.

The secret of Donald Trump is not that the emperor has no clothes; it’s worse: The emperor isn’t even really there.  He is a nihilist.  Power for the sake of power, attention for the sake of  attention — that’s his activity, his function.

He is a black ink splatter and you see in him whatever you project.

For the neo-Nazi, for the Klansman, for David Duke, for the white people afraid the Age of the White People is drawing to a close, he is a neo-Nazi, a Klansman, a reflection of David Duke’s life-long fantasies; he is the savior of racist, white, Evangelical Christian America.

For the greedy, the money-hungry, or the working aspirant to the higher classes he is “financial success,” he is “the art of the deal,” he is “the rebirth of the American Dream.”  No, his record bears none of this out, sketchy as it is.  But reality is not the point; it’s that Trump has become all things to all men because he, in his depths, stands for nothing in particular.  He is happy to seem to be whomever or whatever you wish… just as is a Rorschach Test.

For the Tea Party, he is a weird, irreconcilable mix of libertarianism and protectionism and the confusion of church with state.  He is the promised reaction to LGBTQ rights, the final judgment on Socialized Medicine — both extensions of justice and human rights, long overdue.   And which don’t fully exist here, but he’ll make certain they go away, nonetheless.  Because you are throwing your fears into that black center and he echoes them back to you, only louder.

On the streets of Cleveland I witnessed a carnival without the fun, a carnival of incivility and anger, a celebration of laughing hatred and monstrous beliefs.  Halloween minus the holiness, all tricks and precious few treats.  Dueling bullhorns blaring unadulterated bullshit.  Hope that hopelessness will tear this entire nation into warring groups, each thinking Trump supports them, each utterly incorrect.

Not that, given power, he won’t step back and allow each hateful, fearful group to have their orgy of violence and exclusion… all the better to ignore dear Trump as he lives it up on the public dole and commands the airwaves to say whatever will fill up the otherwise empty 24/7 news cycles.

That’s worked for him so far; until it doesn’t, he’ll keep it up.

He’ll get his attention, make his narcissist’s sociopathic pronouncements, build the financial value of his brand, “TRUMP,” and then cash it all in and leave us an ungovernable, uncooperative shambles.

Perhaps he will go live with Putin whom, today, he openly encouraged to spy on the Democratic Party.  Crooked as Nixon was, he at least was ashamed enough to keep his treasonous, illegal, immoral activities hidden.  Trump couldn’t and does not have the capacity to steal the microscopic shred of conscience that barely lived within Richard Nixon — because that would require him to stand for something beyond his own empty self.  No, he just takes the slogans: Law and Order, Silent Majority.

Empty words.  Emptiness emerging from his dark emptiness.

And you’ve missed it.  The media misunderstood they were being used and played like a cheap piano.

27 July 2016

Richard Van Ingram

http://www.comixcast.com

http://www. losercomix.com

loser@losercomix.com

@RVI777

 

 

 

 

 

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