My credentials are slim to be doing this, not being in any way an expert in the any of the social sciences—political science, sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, etc. I have never presented my thinking to an academic committee. My expertise lies in picturing the world, and at that I have been fully and faithfully engaged for over 50 years as a maker, dealer, and collaborator with other artists. And I have submitted my work to a thesis committee in that regard. It seems pretentious to sign in as Richard D. Lang, MFA, but there it is. My life is picturing the world as an embodied mind. An embodied mind stands in contrast to great swaths of Western thinking, whereby rationality was seen as an entity outside the body—those shadows flickering on Plato’s cave walls. I could be wrong about all this, all of it to follow, right or wrong, but what I trust is what I have trusted this half-century exploring this single idea—the embodied mind—by creating pictures with my hands. For example: Happy is Up and Sad is Down. This is the simplest I can make this feeling of embodiment. Here’s the LINK to another post in this regard to the embodied mind, and I have to thank a boatload of people who helped me figure out what I was called to do and doing, long before I put words to it, as I was engaged in picturing these ideas. I’m working on a complete bibliography that will come in a future post, but for now, y’all should be introduced to these folks. Mary Douglas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gregory Bateson, Lynn Margolis, Jack Burnham, John Dewey, George Lakoff, Dudley Young, Harold Morowitz…it’s a bigger list than would hold your attention here, but look these folks up, you won’t be sorry.
We talked about the flying monkey syndrome in the previous post; how people gathered around a malignant narcissist become like the enslaved flying monkeys depicted in the Wizard of Oz, helplessly doing the bidding of the witch in charge, enslaved by their own ambitions. Two of these ambitious folks took off the shackles themselves and testified, 7/21/22 at the January 6 Committee hearings — Matt Pottinger and Sarah Matthews who both resigned immediately after the Capitol Riots, and testified they’d finally had had enough of Trump’s lies. They were horrified at what they’d become. “Eventually flying monkeys will see the truth because they’re simply a tool a narcissist uses to temporarily protect their fragile ego. Once the flying monkey has served their purpose, the narcissist will discard them as they do everyone else.” (Wiki) Mike Pence, chief of the flying monkeys became Trump’s sacrificial lamb when he ceased being useful.
The single most stunning piece of this latest hearing was a video of Trump practicing a concession speech on 1/7/21, the day after the riots. He’d been given lines to speak that he cannot speak, it’s as though a demon has possessed him. In this widely seen clip (click to enlarge) from the hearings you see Trump struggling to say words given to him to mollify the damage that has been done. I couldn’t help but think, as I lie awake in the 3 AM hour, that I have seen this before. In history, and in movies that feature the Devil in a starring role, you see behavior twisted by some malign force. Of course, the Devil is not some red, horned, bearded phantasm, lording over a kingdom of flames.
This devilish character has appeared in history as a real-life human, possessed by charisma to act out the narcissist’s whims; usually a psychically damaged character doing great damage along the way. Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler…In the movies we have Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski 1968), Devil’s Advocate (Taylor Hackford 1997), and the Grand Marshall in this parade of evil incarnate, The Exorcist (William Friedkin 1978). The film versions always show the devil or those posessed, moving in jerky, unusual gestures. I was shocked by Trump’s movements, they seemed almost puppet-like, like strings were being pulled, and he just couldn’t bring himself to say the required lines, stumbling and enraged as though posessed.
Of course, he is not possessed by some demon, (that’s the Fairytale world) but, he is possessed by some internal force we are all witness to. How these things get lodged in a person is for someone other than me to guess at, but the artist in me SEES this and makes a picture in my self to create some kind of meaning, some kind of picture to make sense of it all. And we see Benny Thompson and Liz Cheney presiding over what can only be the denouement of the New Reconstruction (maybe our third reconstruction). You’ll remember the first reconstruction post-Civil War, when 17 African-Americans were elected to Congress giving rise to a backlash when the KKK was formed, and the racist South of segregation and dis-enfranchisement was born.
Trump and the reactionary forces that rose up in the wake of the election of Barak Obama, are the final reckoning of slavery in the US. (hope. hope). We’d never have had the Proud Boys, the 3%-ers, the Oath Keepers, the chants of “Jews will not replace us”, without this New Reconstruction. And here is Benny Thompson, Congressman from “the heart of darkness” Mississippi presiding in his calm, pull-no-punches delivery. It makes me believe the Republic can be saved. The arc of justice bends slowly, but it does bend. All the reactionary twisting we’ve seen in the last dozen years is a result of fear. Fear of a Black Planet, fear of a Queer Planet, fear of a Gyno Planet. That Gyno-fear is front and center lately, as we watch the Supreme Court try to control women’s very bodies. But Benny Thompson and Liz Cheney come forward to us almost as a thrill-ride on that arc of justice, we will change, we will bend because we have real work to do as we face catastrophes global in scale. The economic imbalances we are suffering from (crime, refugees and homelessness), coupled with the gross disturbance in the delicate biosphere have us way off-kilter. We have REAL work ahead of us, let’s get busy!!!…Stop all the Red-State Blue-State nonsense as we are shoved into silos by our clicks and swipes as the Algorithm of the info-robots crack the whip. In the meantime stay tuned for September’s next installment. I’ll be ready to report, inshallah.