SO MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN about the Trump administration now that it seems pointless to spend time and energy to deepen the ocean of outrage already in evidence. But I will do so, if only to organize my thoughts, and perhaps assist others in organizing theirs. Words have power, and increasingly, they are the only power left to ordinary citizens, who are slowly being deprived of their civic strength, their economic means, and the once and future country of their youth.
IT SEEMS THAT LIFE, in her infinite wisdom, has led me to take up residence in Montana. I'm now living in Bigfork and working in Kalispell, just a short distance from Glacier National Park. Some of you may know that in addition to writing, I harbor a passion for fine art photography, and this area of the country is as ripe for landscape work as any place could possibly be. I've decided to start posting photographs here as they come into existence, because why not? Nature's prose is far more compelling than anything mere mortals have to offer.
I WILL BEGIN by stating the obvious. When Fascists decide to support something, there is already good reason to oppose it. A national conversation about the most statuesque among us is now thick with reason and its opposite, historical fact and histrionic fiction, prayerful prostration and Sieg Heil! salutation. One supposes that the nattering nabobs of Nazi nationalism (tip ‘o the hat to William Safire) did not think the matter through when they descended upon Charlottesville like a swarm of loathsome insects. All over the southland, Marble Monuments To Malevolent Men are suddenly sliding into a bear market downslope that is nothing if not supremely slippery. Say what you will about the neo-Nazis; above everything else, they’re just as dumb as a rock.
It seems the god of literature does not always smile on we plebians. Pronoun, the online distribution channel that I had selected for Sostenuto, is closing up shop. Here is the email that I received earlier this week.
I defy you to get through all of these. Wow.
Dear Friends and Bibliophiles,
I am delighted to announce the publication of my debut novel SOSTENUTO. This is the culmination of seven years of work that began with the germ of an idea that took on a vigorous life of its own and consumed a fair bit of mine in the process.
No project of this magnitude happens in isolation, and like all of us, I stand on the shoulders of the giants of my formative years; my loving parents, my tolerant siblings, my magnificent teachers, and my civic forbears.
The cover of the book is based on a work of vector art that I created this past summer. The artwork features the mathematical value Pi to 20,660 decimal places, rendered in two connected spirals. Readers of the novel will find that this has significance.
In preparation for publishing the novel (I'll be self-publishing, for now) I've set up a Publishing House and designed a brand. Cool. Here is the logo. The logo features the letters A and P, arranged to suggest an eye. The "A" forms the eyebrow; the "P" forms the iris.
I am an alumnus of Grove City College. This is not something that I ordinarily advertise, but recent events there compel my engagement, and in this particular matter, I speak from extensive personal experience.
Ladies and gentlemen, The First Rule of Thumb for a responsible public figure is AVOID GESTICULATION. In so much of the political class, histrionics are frequently unconscious, and this has the subtle effect of diminishing the power of words, rather than of reinforcing them. Careless gestures are open to cultural interpretation in ways that ordinary words are not, particularly if the words and the gestures do not appear to jibe. Far better to sit on those soft little hands and try to speak simply.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Inauguration Day is here! Thanks for showing up for what promises to be a star-studded, spectacular show. We’re just hours away from making America great again, and I know you’re all as excited as we are to take this country back from the ivory towers and the deserving poor. But first, a little housekeeping is in order. We all want things to move along without resistance, and so we’re asking each of you to help us out by sorting yourselves into like-minded gaggles so that we can fine-tune our fake news with a little finesse. You’ve all heard of The Great Sorting? Well, here it is! Welcome!
“It’s locker room talk and it’s one of those things.”
Well then. Methinks this business of locker room talk, as Mr. Trump dismisses it, bears some additional scrutiny.
Like many of us, I have been tempted in this election season to cast my vote for a third-party candidate, and I have given a great deal of thought as to the wisdom of doing so. Those of you who have befriended me perhaps know that I was a supporter of Bernie Sanders early on. I’d like to lay out my thinking on the matter as clearly and simply as I can, because this time around, the stakes are extremely high, and I have at least one or two irrepressible acquaintances who seem not to have thought the matter through. It may be that all of you intelligent folk have long since worked this out, but it seems I needed a bit more time. Anyway, here we go.
That Donald Trump is regarded seriously by anyone for any office of any kind is literally beyond belief. It is the most damning indictment possible of the degeneration of the civic integrity of this nation. It is an indictment of our collective ability to think clearly about even the most obvious and self-evident conclusions that follow along is his narcissistic wake. It is a catastrophic indictment of the once honorable Republican Party. It is clear and inescapable evidence of the severely degraded state of our fourth estate, which has given him free reign to peddle hate speech, xenophobia, and abject idiocy. It is proof positive of red-state America’s long history of voting against its own interests, and in opposition to the health and wellbeing of the body politic at large. To support Donald Trump is to give primacy to the ugliest aspects of American arrogance and greed over otherwise ordinary matters of conscience, and intelligence, and common human decency. Donald Trump embodies, and now represents, the very worst of American culture.
FOR AT LEAST THE PAST DECADE, we have watched the GOP move to restrict reproductive and abortion rights, defund Planned Parenthood, attempt to eliminate women from serving in combat, restrict preventative care and screening services, block access to contraception, vote against equal pay for women, eliminate Head Start funding, and cut federal funding for childcare programs. In New Hampshire, they went so far as to far as to propose a bill banning women from having exposed nipples in public, and thousands of bills have been introduced in legislatures around the country that are designed to restrict a woman’s right to choose. This preposterous agenda has quite rightly been christened The War on Women. Unsurprisingly, Republicans have taken exception to the moniker, even as they embrace it legislatively.
ONLY A FEW SHORT WEEKS are left in this silly season, and at this stage of the harvest, there’s not much left but manure. We’ve been at this for the better part of eighteen moons now, and Mr. Potato Head has inexplicably managed to capture your fealty with his rearrangeable face. He also has rearrangeable hands, of course, but they’re extremely small and difficult to spot.
TODAY’S PRIMARY ELECTION is the most consequential for New Yorkers, and for the country at large, in a generation. Politics and corruption are synonymous in this state, and in this regard, they serve as a perfect foil for the civic cesspool encircled by the Washington beltway. Today we have an opportunity to reign in the long-entrenched institutions that would decide for us, instead of us, about the conduct of our country and the governance of our lives. We have the obligation to lift the American experiment up out of that cesspool, full into sunlight; to inspect her, and correct her, and nourish her back to health. It is absolutely vital that we do so.
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING and gather ‘round, boys and girls.
I want to speak to you today about a serious subject. A terribly important, highly sensitive, mighty serious subject. That subject, as some of you may suspect, is balls. Balls. Cojones. Stones. The Family Jewels. The truth, boys and girls, is that Donald Trump has none…and neither do you.