Re: Puppetry

Scott asks:

Does anyone want to be a fake? Does anyone want to be the person who he or she actually is?

Absolutely yes to both questions.  Absolutely no to both questions.  Yes to either question is no to both questions, and no to either question is yes to both questions.

Everyone wants to have been a fake.  Everyone wants it to turn out that he always was really who she turns out really to have been, all along, better, not that other thing you thought she was.  Everyone wants for it to be obvious that either was always essentially the other, just somehow misread, superficially.

The Beaver trailer and the Beaver mash-up trailer are the same trailer because no one who ever heard Mel play Mel can hear anything else when Mel plays anyone else, and The Beaver can only be “the Beaver,” which is clearly not a beaver, nor anyone’s beaver, but is a piece of trash through which Mel or Jodie reveal themselves to be discard-able puppets, fake beavers, trash.

Scott and me, Mel and Jodie, the Beaver though not the beaver, want to be recognized authentically succeeding – recognized as we are, but “are” in the sense of no longer the same as whatever we were wrongly thought to have been or could have been known to have been – recognized therefore not for our mere success, always already a past success belonging to what we were or could have been known to have been, but for our succeeding further, and not just recognized by merely anyone, but by someone capable of authentically recognizing our succeeding further and thus inauthenticating our supposed failure.  We all want to impress Jodie Foster.  We all want what-we-were-not to be recognized as such, as fake.  We all want to be the person we actually are becoming in being authentically recognized in further succeeding – the person we actually are.

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6 comments on “Re: Puppetry

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  1. That is exactly the answer I was looking for. It’s so great to be you. Really. One of the things I like best about meditation is how it breaks down what yogis call the “I maker.” In reading what you wrote, especially in reading what you wrote about what I wrote, I experiencing being you and it’s great. There is no i in Colin. Oh, wait. There is actually an i in Colin. But you get the point.

  2. As it happens I had occasion to look up this poem earlier today when I was too lazy to compose one to serve as a monkey wrench thrown into a facebook discussion by my nephews and nieces. It’s not completely off point.

    The Hippopotamus

    Behold the hippopotamus!
    We laugh at how he looks to us,
    And yet in moments dank and grim,
    I wonder how we look to him.

    Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
    We really look all right to us,
    As you no doubt delight the eye
    Of other hippopotami.

    Ogden Nash

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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