July 18, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on July 17, 2018

Yesterday evening I finally finished my email of complaint about E.-St. traffic and roadbed conditions. Sent it to the mayor, my ward councilor, the city manager, and the state representative (E.-St. is a numbered route). I wonder what kind of response I’ll get.

Meanwhile, politics around here remains and gets ever more gnarly. Neocons getting rehabilitated, making nice with Democrats who, in their anti-Trump frenzy, are willing to cozy up with these war mongers. I feel on the one hand obliged to speak up about it (and have, sometimes, on Twitter, but not face-to-face so much, but more on that in a second) and on the other the desire to throw up my hands and say, “what’s the use.” Yesterday I met X. for an impromptu coffee at T.-café. It was nice to see her, but at one point she started what I can only guess would have turned into full-blown virtue signaling when she brought up “House of Cards.” She was talking about the American version, of course, and I can’t recall the exact context in which it came up in the first place. Anyway, she only mentioned it to remark that she couldn’t bear to watch it because its dark and evil machinations reminded her too much of the “reality” (not her word, actually, but close enough) of what we have to deal with now with Trump. Oh yes, virtue: you’re so attuned to the grievance produced by the POTUS that it puts you off a TV show. A remake, at that. A replica of a fiction. A simulacrum of a simulacrum. It takes true virtue to go that deep down the rabbit hole, I suppose.

Maybe this is the problem. We’re so media-saturated and fantasy-clotted, we’re not focusing on actual reality anymore …except the reality/ realities of our “feels,” our emotions. And of course “the persuaders” – TV, advertising, and now journalists, mainstream media, politicians, and think-tankers – have all glommed on to the fact – it’s a fact, not an idea in dispute – that the easiest way to get us is via the emotional route. Coupled with the (fragile) self-esteem movement, which has made everyone more fragile at the end of the day, it’s the perfect formula for ensuring that people will feel most vindicated and most in touch with “reality” when they profess their “truth,” namely the most anguished emotions they can muster. Vicious circle, too.

I think a lot of people understand how this works at some level, which might explain the “I don’t care” attitude. Supposedly, the salts-of-the-Midwest-earth – i.e., working folks – are telling pollsters that they couldn’t care less about the Russia collusion allegations. That is, they’re refusing to have their emotional buttons pushed, to be played. This does not make them political savants or anything. We still don’t know where exactly political disaffection might lead. Nor whether it will matter, really. It’s the politically engaged – or rather, politically played – and their persuaders who hold more sway. They can increase or decrease the tides. At will. It’s a high-stakes game. Frankly, I loathe it. Try to observe it, …but play? Not so much.

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