10 Mar 2016

Trump Must Be the Trickster Himself

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Corey Pein argues that pointing to class divisions is insufficient to explain the rise of an outsider candidate with no legitimate political credentials, the acceptance by large numbers of conservative Republicans of a candidate with a long record of liberal positions and an even longer record of support for democrats. The mystery of what’s going on here is increased by that candidate’s indecorous behavior, his rudeness and crudity, his gleeful violation of all conventional standards of civility and his brazen and bold-faced lying. His getting away with all that is downright preternatural.

Something more profound is occurring. An election is, at its core, a form of mass ritual. What dreadful forces are being summoned this time? Tremors ripple through the noosphere. Can you feel them? It’s eerie, as though the dogs have all stopped barking at once, the birds have flown away together to parts unknown, and the sky has turned green.

The strangeness of the moment exceeds the descriptive capacity of what passes for civil discourse. Even the people who are right on the particulars are wrong on the whole. What’s worse, any attempt to explain Trump’s popular ascent is doomed because these events cannot be explained in the empirical fashion to which modern people are accustomed. The election is nothing less than a psychogenic storm. As such it can only be discussed in metaphysical terms that sober, prudent, smartphone-having people are unwilling to countenance.

The press in particular is doomed by its methodology, which assumes that human events are dictated by discrete, quantifiable forces. Watch how desperately they cling to the mistaken belief that some combination of polling data and campaign finance-flow explains the dramatic subversion of expectations that is the looming Trump nomination. This is all in vain!

The key to understanding this election cycle—and its energetic locus, Trump—is to accept that we are not dealing with an ordinary man, bound by the rules of decorum and the presupposition of coherence. I have another idea. I propose that Donald Trump is the personification of a Norse god named Loki.

Read the whole thing.


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