Artists “picture” the world for us as part of the embodied mind. Making physical, the thoughts, feelings, etc. that we experience. Embodying. Making “stuff” to get this across. Whether it is an actual picture or a modernist sculpture sitting in the plaza of a mall, or a symphony, or a poem. It’s all pictures no matter how abstract. A mom asks her pre-schooler, “What are you drawing?” “Oh! its a picture of god.” “No one knows what god looks like, honey.” “Well, now they do.” Har dee har. But the truth of it rings the joke into reality. Watching the 1/6 hearings has given us a flood of pictures, of sounds, of texts. Let’s see if we can shine the artist’s beam, an embodiment, for a little parsing of that welter. That tsunami. I have no claim on Political Science expertise, but I do have 50+ years as a “picture maker”.
To watch Liz Cheney lead the charge of restoring Democracy to our Republic is to watch a Greek Drama unfold. Right-wing to her core, Sophocles would cast her into a tale of the sins of the father expiated by the daughter in his play Elektra, as Dick Cheney was largely responsible for the Iraq debacle. Did I say largely? Totally. Shoving his surrogates before Congress to tout the lie of WMD, made him responsible for the debacle of the Iraq War. It’s well-known Cheney held a secret conference with the biggest oil CEO’s before the war. (Congress mandates that any meeting of this sort become part of the public record—Dick Cheney has yet to divulge the minutes of that meeting).
Why Cheney chose two African-Americans, Colin Powell and Condelezza Rice to do this, is part of the picture world I’m trying to unfold. Because it IS a picture world, a picture world we live in. By any accounting that war was a disaster for lives, waste of treasure, loss of our global standing at a time when the Soviet Union had hobbled to its last. That moment after 9/11 could have turned the global community toward the US. But we squandered an opportunity in a Tragedy of Hubris. If you remember the whole world was with us, post 9/11, and we knew knew knew Saddam Hussien was not responsible for the terrorist attacks on the US. That war was a Tragedy of Greek proportions and it was Dick Cheney’s war. Cheney, the oil man, in charge of the largest army on the planet, killing thousands and ruining the ecology of a whole region, a region remaining destabilized in an infectous disease that has spread now to Ukraine. This is Sophocles play Elektra played out on the TV.
Here comes Elektra, Liz Cheney to expiate the sins of the Father as in the tragedy that unfolded in that tragedy. We recall the scene from the film VICE (Adam McKay 2018) in which Dick Cheney receives a heart transplant. We see his excized old heart lying outside his body in the operating room on a tray. That heart is black as night. An unforgettable scene. That black heart that caused so much damage in Dick’s avarice for power and control. Liz Cheney to rescue (maybe), and maybe, like all tragic characters, sacrifice her life in Congress to the higher good. This play is still hinging on that dramatic fulcrum. I couldn’t help myself, thinking of this image as Dick Cheney was as close to the blackest night in his manipulations, of Powell and Rice, of Donald Rumsfeld, of the hapless G W Bush. He was masterful and now his daughter comes along as Miss Liberty herself.
We don’t have to go all the way back to Sophocles for antecedents to this drama. How ’bout the Wizard of Oz? (1939). First, can we discuss the Flying Monkey Syndrome? It is a well-documented psychological syndrome in which hangers-on, and sycophants cathect to the malignant narcissicist, just like the flying monkeys of Oz to do the witch’s bidding. A great diagnostic “tell” of the malignant narcissist, is how many of these flying monkeys flock around. Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon. It’s a big list. Just think of those flying monkeys in Oz.
Steven Ayers’ January 6 testimony fills out the picture of the power of the narcissist; that poor guy, stuffed down the cannon barrel by Trump’s lies, packed in, ready to blow something up for the bloated orange witch, now, Ayers having lost his job and home what will his life be? And the latest flying-monkey-Trumper, is actually Dr. Oz himself, and he ain’t no wizard. Dr. Oz? As they say, “you can’t make this shit up.” The malignant narcissist’s greatest game is projection, pointing the finger out at what is going on internally, so when Trump says “Witch Hunt”, it’s a certain corroboration of HIS inner state. When he says “the big steal” it is HIS steal we should be worried about.
At this writing 7/19/22, we are waiting to see the finish of this drama. Liz Cheney seems poised and holding that bucket of water, Hey, Liz, Merrick Garland is playing the scarecrow, and he is on fire! Throw the bucket!
I have to tip my hat to my genius data-mining daughter who found the picture of that black heart for me. And…this just in!!! My daughter, Amelia, also sends me this real headline from High Country News in Wyoming:
The Wicked Witch of the West —Harriet Hageman.
Hageman is Liz Cheney’s main contender for her congressional seat, and they really do call her the Wicked Witch of the West. She’s known for dressing all in black. Like I said, you really can’t make this shit up. Maybe the green is a little over the top, but like the title says: An Artist Watches the 1/6 Hearings.