There has been a strange feeling in the air this last month and a half. Instead of more certain, things just seem to grow more twisted, more convoluted.
Like I suspect many I’ve often felt paradoxically more confused and hopeless in the wake of Biden’s electoral “victory”—and I only put victory in quotes because the naked word seems to imply a spontaneity that is belied by the managerial quality underlying this election. In other words, this was a choice in the most barren sense of the term—Biden was served up on a platter and imbued with whatever anti-Trump qualities he required for any given audience—more or less, that is—often it was just, take it or leave it. That Biden was the architect of the world that made Trump was irrelevant and so that was sort of ubiquitously shoved under the rug… of course these things can only stay down for so long, they will resurface, and so now we live the strange experience of having both the train continue to run with no brake or even modest self-reflection while liberals’ worst instincts and ideas—and their fecklessness and impotence—all quixotically appear reaffirmed. And I emphasize liberals because they serve a key constitutive role in this society and civilization—they prevent us from seeing the inherent brutality and inhumanity of it—they give it its gloss—which may or may not have a little life left.
This isn’t to say I think the alternative (a second Trump term) would be preferable in any way, but the way this is playing out has been so bizarrely hollow, and so often disspiriting, it’s all difficult to make sense of.
What sticks out to me is that the confusion of the Trump years—the disorientation of liberalism, the insanity of the right, the mass cultural freak-out, rightly or wrongly—is in no way abating, it is intensifying. The strangeness, the distortion, the misalignment—it has been reaffirmed. Trump did break the system, and the collective mind, and it was not just he by any means, but he was the biggest, loudest, stupidest element in it, the most massive and grotesque representation of it. What he’s done cannot be undone. And while he does indeed exist and create on a continuum, he also is and was something new, and we live in that world now.