The legend of the golem varies according to the teller, but I will follow the version that tells how in a time of persecution a rabbi made a mighty giant out of mud, a golem, and wrote a sacred word on its forehead — “Truth” — that gave it life. With its frightening size and enormous strength, the golem was to defend and safeguard the Jews. But the golem was not rational, not controllable. It was a danger in itself. So the rabbi removed a single letter from the word on its forehead, which then read “Death,” and the life went out of the giant, leaving only mud.
Sometimes it seems lately that most of the emails I get from my friends are about Donald Trump. Some are laments, confessions of despair; many are witty parodies of him, funny imitations of him, scathing cartoons about him. He is the subject, the object, of all of them.
He is also the subject of most lead stories in most newspapers, which is expectable for a new president, and of endless editorials. I gather that he fills the political news on TV even more thoroughly and is exhaustively, continually discussed, attacked, defended, parodied, etc. on the social media, not to mention his own nightly fits of twittering. I don’t know this firsthand because I rarely watch or listen to any media news any more, don’t follow or read social media at all (though occasionally have posted something from my website), and don’t have a smart phone. If this makes you feel that I am disqualified to comment on modern life and politics, I can’t argue.
As a science fiction writer, I will, however, say that sometimes the view of Earth from another planet can give insights otherwise unattainable.
Looking at the New World from the ancient one I inhabit, I am appalled at the constant, obsessive attention paid to Trump.
He appears to be exactly what he wants to be: addictive.
He is a true, great master of the great game of this age, the Celebrity Game. Attention is what he lives on. Celebrity without substance. His “reality” is “virtual” — i.e. non-existent — but he used this almost-reality to disguise a successful bid for real power. Every witty parody, hateful gibe, clever takeoff, etc., merely plays his game, and therefore plays into his hands.
Reagan was the master of TV, but this guy has a nation full of people with their eyes and ears already glued 18 hours a day to screens and speakers, already habituated to a stream of disparate, disconnected “information” (news/entertainment/commercials mashup) which cannot be fact-checked, cannot be organized into understanding, because it’s so huge, so incessant, and goes by so fast. Exactly the way Trump thinks and talks.
It’s how he won the campaign: keeping in the limelight, flummoxing his Republican rivals, outshouting poor, rational Clinton, silencing thought with a flood of incessant, bullying, meaningless words.
It’s no use wishing the media would stop hanging on him and the press would stop reporting every tweet, but it may be worth saying that they’d do less of it if we stopped watching and listening to him — if we weren’t so literally fascinated by him.
He’s the snake and we’re the chickens.
When he does something weird (which he does constantly in order to keep media attention on him), look not at him but at the people whom his irresponsible acts or words affect — the Republicans who try to collaborate with him (like collaborating with a loose cannon), the Democrats and Government employees he bullies, the statesmen from friendly countries he offends, the ordinary people he uses, insults, and hurts. Look away from him, and at the people who are working desperately to save what they can save of our Republic and our hope of avoiding nuclear catastrophe. Look away from him, and at reality, and things begin to get back into proportion.
I honestly believe the best thing to do is turn whatever it is OFF whenever he’s on it, in any way.
He is entirely a creature of the media. He is a media golem. If you take the camera and mike off him, if you take your attention off him, nothing is left — mud.
21 February 2017