Here’s an old one for the occasion.
Story: in elementary school I had a hippie teacher who played an acoustic version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” with the lyrics replaced by the text of “Jabberwocky.” That’s all.
Here’s this year’s theme.
(Oh please, it’s only been like a month. I’m perfectly on schedule.)
Well, here we are. I, um . . . okay. Listen. It’s been a while since I’ve had any faith left to lose. I don’t believe in the American system of government, I reject the legitimacy of the ruling class, and I do not listen to anyone who thinks they’re the boss of me. Whoever the president is, they’re never my president. So from that perspective things actually make more sense now. The fact of the president being an entirely loathsome person clarifies the situation, because the presidency is an entirely loathsome office. When someone occupies the office who’s cute and charming and who seems like a good person, it confuses things. It makes you feel like maybe they’re on your side, when they are necessarily not. So I would like to be able to say, non-ironically, that this is fine. It doesn’t matter who the president is, the government is just lizardpeople playing musical chairs, and you remain free to live your own life. But only one of those things is true, and only provisionally.
I was intellectually prepared for this to happen. Ever since Trump was accepted as his party’s nominee and started polling within standard margins, this has been a potential future, and anyone who didn’t understand that has no business discussing politics in public. But this has never been about politics proper. For a long time now, this election has been about whether we are going to live in a society of uncaring technocratic management or a society of vicious childishness. The former of those things is bad, but the latter is not even basically compatible with human dignity. It hurts to know that we’ve made this choice.
I don’t want to care. I knew that America was like this. But even my cold, cold heart is aching at the reality of it. I was normal-sad yesterday, but today I’m completely annihilated. I feel like I’m wandering through a badly-written short story, a tangled mess of cliches. I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth, the bile is rising in my throat, my head’s in a vice, I’m short of breath, my vision is blurred, a black cloud hovers over me. My torso has been hollowed out and pumped full of some kind of toxic miasma; I don’t want to open my mouth for fear of what’s going to come out. This election has poisoned all of us. Everywhere I look, it’s dumb fucks as far as the eye can see. I live in California; we performed our function, but that doesn’t matter. I maintained optimism as the numbers started coming in, but I simultaneously realized that, either way, we had already lost. Seeing the real, live numbers brought home how many people have failed in their most basic human responsibility: to not embrace the void. The blight is everywhere. It’s not going away.
It’s been bad enough with Trump just being constantly in the news, an engorged penis poking itself into every available orifice, but now there will be no respite. He’s going to deliver four State of the Union addresses; we’re going to get his commentary on every tragedy and disaster; he’s going to dictate our priorities and set our agenda. He didn’t just win an election. He won everything and beat everyone. Donald Trump was right about everything. He never had to restrain himself or kowtow to common wisdom. All the intellectuals were against him and they were all wrong. Everything he bragged about was true, all of his deranged accusations were valid, all of his insults stuck. He is a real, homegrown American success story. The society we live in is one where Donald Trump gets whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants it. He grabbed America by the pussy, and she let him do it.
I don’t value success. I value people who do good things that matter to other people. The common pseudo-feminist argument that Kim Kardashian is deserving of respect because she’s a successful businesswoman is exactly backwards: that’s precisely why we shouldn’t respect her; it’s the real, non-aesthetic reason why she’s a bad person. In the same sense, the notion that Trump is a “failed” businessman or a “cheater” or a “con artist” is beside the point. He’s not bad when he fails, he’s bad when he succeeds. His actual goals are bad. Being rich is bad, and being president is bad.
So, again, I shouldn’t care. But I do. The thought of someone like that being in power, his smug satisfaction at his own triumph, the throngs of lackeys and careerist hacks scrambling over each other to suck his dick, all of it makes me sick. This isn’t even what matters; I should be worried about all the people who are actually in harm’s way now, and I am, but I can’t let this go, either. I’m not that generous. I didn’t think I had any respect left to lose for American society; I genuinely thought the floor was higher than this. I didn’t think there was any farther to fall. I was wrong.
I was at a show yesterday. I wasn’t really thinking much about the election at the time; I’m of the belief that there’s no point in worrying about things once they’re out of your hands, but in retrospect I’m glad I wasn’t alone. All day today I’ve been unable to stomach the sight of everyone going about their lives as though nothing were wrong, as though this were just a wacky plot twist in a sitcom. I mean, what else can you do, but at the same time I can’t bear the thought that no one really cares. I think that’s the worst thing of all: not the zealotry, but the complacency. But yesterday I was among people who cared, and who were sad, and who weren’t going to let it stop them. The feeling of dread in the air was palpable, and that was honestly encouraging: there remain people who understand that there is something to dread. There were a number of mini-speeches about how to handle it all, which honestly were not entirely on-point (not that I blame anyone for trying), but the thing that got through to me was that this is real and that isn’t. They’re the ones faking it; we’re the ones living our lives. Politics is something we have to deal with, but it’s not what matters. We have to keep supporting each other and keep doing the things we care about. There’s no such thing as saving the world; we are creating the world constantly through our actions, so we have to be conscious of what it is that we’re creating. If you don’t do this, if you tell yourself that you care about things but you never actually do them, then you are guilty of the only sin. You’re a coward.
So if there’s any consolation here, it’s that our responsibilities haven’t changed. Our responsibility either way is to resist, and that will continue to be our responsibility for as long as the ruling class continues to exist and to pursue its endless mission to destroy everything we care about.
Here’s some music.
Writing is hard. Here’s a playlist.