Thursday, January 5, 2017


Shanghai theater company, late 19th century, photographed by William Saunders, via BBC.

I'm afraid I kind of like David Brooks's column ("The Snapchat Presidency"). Though that central image—the Snapchat—isn't really right, in that Trump's midnight utterance doesn't in fact disappear 24 hours later, even if Trump sometimes seems to think it does, but it does have a kind of strange evanescence, like a sudden flower that wilts and browns before your eyes. Indeed, I thought for a moment that someone might have ghosted it for him.

Brooks is good on the way they originate, though the flabbiness of his own prose spoils it a little:
He’s tweeted out policy gestures in recent weeks, say about the future of America’s nuclear arsenal. But these gestures aren’t attached to anything. They emerged from no analytic process and point to no implemental effects. Trump’s statements seem to spring spontaneously from his middle-of-night feelings. They are astoundingly ambiguous and defy interpretation.
But he doesn't really get how the sense that they mean something is part of that efflorescence, when everybody starts analyzing the tweet and trying to guess what its policy implications might be. The evidence of it remains online, but the meaningfulness decays and dies. It's more as if the Snapchat picture didn't disappear but merely blurred slightly, so that it became hard to identify who's in it.

Anyway, the shorter—
Donald Trump being president is not normal.
—suggests a topic more for Driftglass than me, offering multiple instances of how Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did the same sort of thing as the Trump is doing it now, maybe less in your face.

I'm off on an Asian trip, and the blog is going to be quiet for a couple of days at least, I think. Here are some links to old, mostly silly stuff, to tide you all over: Keats and Chapman stories on Hemingway and cricket, a Blast from the Future: How David Brooks will welcome Trump's wall (from April 2016), a Sarah Palin poem that never got a wide readership, and the Green Eggs and Ham parody. Catch you later!

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