Sunday, December 11, 2016

"cult of personality"

Swimming up from the eddies and depths of sleep, it occurred to me that if there were a tailor-made descriptive for U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, it would be "cult of personality." In my mind, it was bang-on for a short-and-sweet, let's-not-waste-our-breath-on-this-topic summing up.

It was bang-on and yet a closer examination of the phrase exuded fragility and blurred edges. What was the difference between charismatic leadership and self-anointing raiment?
The terms "cult of personality" and "personality cult" were further popularized by Nikita Khrushchev's initially secret speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences given on the final day of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, February 25, 1956, which criticized the lionization of Josef Stalin.... -- Wikipedia
Of course the meaning, if not the words, spread further back into history. Perhaps every (wo)man is his or her own cult of personality, whether in subtle or in gross, so bad-mouthing the one and leaving the other unscathed reflects more on the source and less on the object of that source's observations.

When "cult of personality" is positive, everyone applauds. Viewed negatively, people get shot or hanged. And still, for all the parsing and poking, "cult of personality" strikes me as fitting Donald Trump right down to his bourgeois puttees.

He loves nothing and he'll sell it to you all day long.

I had a Zen teacher like that once.

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