Sunday, January 6, 2019

Wall Together Now

Photograph by Bjarni Grimsson for MAGA, a nonprofit arts group led by the Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Büchel which aims to preserve the eight prototype Wall samples in San Diego as sculptures with a cultural value as historical "land art", seen here from the Mexican side of the existing barrier, January 2018, via the Guardian.

It's a mystery!

I'll get to my hypothesis eventually, but I want to remind you that the look of the thing, if not Democrats' attitude toward it, has been a big factor in Trumpy's wallthink from the beginning, when you think about it—Trump always insisted that his wall was going to be "big and beautiful", and was very insistent on the importance of aesthetics when he issued the call for design proposals in March 2017:
Building on President Trump's promise to make a "big, beautiful wall", the notice says that the wall must be aesthetically pleasing in colour and its anti-climb texture, and that it should blend in and be consistent with the general surrounding environment.
The notice only mentions however, aesthetic requirements for the north side of the wall, "i.e. U.S. facing side", with no address to having pleasing aesthetics for the Mexican side.
And Trump really cares about this stuff, in a way he doesn't really care about anything else, justice, love, family, making deals, even money, a remarkable fact Corey Robin was the first to observe, in a great Jacobin article from February 2017, which I want to quote at some length:
there is one type of moment when you really feel like you’re in the presence of the man himself, when you feel as if the response he is registering is genuine. And that is when he’s decorating.
Trump seems to be sincerely moved by the surface of things. The surfaces are garish and gauche, but you sense some kind of inner stirring in him when he writes about those surfaces, a stirring you otherwise never feel.
This is just one representative passage, where he’s talking about the atrium in Trump Tower:
Der, Ivana, and I looked at hundreds of marble samples. Finally, we came upon something called Breccia Perniche, a rare marble in a color none of us had ever seen before — an exquisite blend of rose, peach, and pink that literally took our breath away. . . it was a very irregular marble. When we went to the quarry, we discovered that much of the marble contained large white spots and white veins. That was jarring to me and took away from the beauty of the stone. So we ended up going to the quarry with black tape and marking off the slabs that were the best ....
The effect was heightened by the fact that we used so much marble — on the floors and for the walls six full floors up. It created a very luxurious and a very exciting feeling. Invariably, people comment that the atrium — and the color of the marble particularly — is friendly and flattering, but also vibrant and energizing —all things you want people to feel when they shop....
Notice the specificity of his observations, his eye for certain details. Notice the irrepressible joy, almost awe, he experiences and expresses. Notice how loving, wistful, aroused he is, by the play of surfaces. It’s hard to believe he’s faking any of this. It seems, to me at least, quite real.
And it's in this context that you need to see the development, over the last weeks, of a proposal for something entirely different and the exotic belief that Democrats ought to like it better:
But the wall is no longer the wall. His description of the wall he imagined when he was a candidate is evolving. In 2015, Mr. Trump said of his wall, "It's going to be made of hardened concrete, and it's going to be made out of rebar, and steel." Since Thursday, Mr. Trump has taken to referring to the proposed structure as "steel slats," and in one tweet, he suggested they would have a certain aesthetic quality.   
"The Democrats, are saying loud and clear that they do not want to build a Concrete Wall - but we are not building a Concrete Wall, we are building artistically designed steel slats, so that you can easily see through it," he tweeted earlier this week.
Or, as he put it just today,

Who knew concrete had to be imported?

Anyway, I'm betting our party is Ivanka, who

  • shares with her father ideals of bad, but expensive taste, something they've often bonded over, I suppose, as he did with her mother before her, and regards herself as an exceptional creative spirit in that line of endeavor;
  • is acquainted with some practicing Democrats in her Upper East Side social circle, recyclers and immigrant-lovers who could easily have told her, "Well, sweetie, we just hate that Wall, you know—it's terrible for the ocelots, and it's going to be such an eyesore"; and
  • is dumb enough to read such remarks as telling her that they'd stop objecting if it was something more in a blinds concept, with gaps for the ocelots to squeeze through and a better color palette.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am. I'll bet she and Jared are Donald's prime sources for information on what Democrats under 50 are like, and he believes everything she says, because she's the smartest person in the family. I'll bet they've worked together on Wall concepts all along. Maybe she was the one, not Barron, who came up with the original steel slats image that generated such hilarity:

She's completely conversant with Microsoft Paint, or some equivalent program, and has often used it to get some idea to her subordinates in the fashion business, who never told her now much extra work it made for them or how amateurish it looked.

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