Wednesday, October 10, 2018

where maps don't work

In these fractious times, it may be only fitting that the British Library should publish a book of maps whose beauty is admired but whose accuracy was not, uh, very authentic. Eg.:
The maps of the past, often used as touchstones of human agreements and presumptions seem to be going awry. What can any longer be agreed? What is actually known and agreed to? Europe slides sideways as Great Britain votes itself out of the European Union. China bides its time as the second greatest economy after the United States. And the United States seems to fly apart like a watermelon under the stage-set sledge hammer of the performer Gallagher.

At the United Nations recently, even Donald Trump seemed taken aback when someone in the General Assembly laughed at what he was boasting about.

What can be agreed to? Maps then do not map now. Trump's map, my map, your map. As a comedian might say, "you can't make this shit up." Only of course you can. In fact, in the face of disintegration, it is what is required. Make it up. Make up Ireland. Make up the maps from here to there. It's all terra incognita and Trump's fragmentation of the United States is working. Facts don't count on this map. Only what individuals make up and believe and applaud.

And don't call it "stupid." Nine of the presidents of the U.S. lacked a college degree (if that can be called a marker of intelligence) ... which is not to say they lacked vision. Harry Truman was the last. But Harry Truman had been to war. Harry Truman did his homework. Harry Truman had a plaque on his desk: "The buck stops here." Donald Trump has no plaque, but he does have a college degree. He is capable of taking children from their parents, of rousing up antipathies, of picking on but not improving health care, and of making sure tax breaks are permanent for the well-to-do but only good for a couple of years for the so-called middle class.

Facts don't count. Feelings do.

One of the maps that used to work pretty well was the one pointing out that everyone, bar none, is stupid in one way or another. The smart, the stupid, the college degree and the lack thereof, the wealthy and the poor ... everyone's got a streak of stupid and, in some cases, is not afraid to use it. Everyone has a stopping point -- a point beyond which they haven't the energy to go, an over-arching umbrella of protection and surrender. Whatever it is, it's as good as it gets for the moment -- maybe it's God, for example. It may be flawed, but it's the best flawed thing I can summon.
Donald Trump is a “good moral person” and an example to the nation, according to one of the most prominent evangelical Christians in the US.
Jerry Falwell, who is credited along with other evangelical leaders with delivering a huge Christian vote for Trump in 2016, said he had “no doubts, no hesitations” about supporting the president. “He is like Ronald Reagan on steroids.”
In an interview with the Guardian, Falwell also described the Democrats as fascists and “Brownshirts”, and said the US would be engaged in civil war if this was the 18th century rather than the 21st century.
And that's not to mention "The Trump Prophecy," a low-profile film an assessment of which was passed along in email the other day. The stronger and richer the person, the closer to God. This is not as insane as it sounds: Around the world, the strong leader is a beacon and a relief. God favors the wealthy ... anybody knows that.

Yesterday, I was talking with a nurse about a local ballot question that seeks to limit the number of patients hospital nurses would be allowed to care for. What did she think? And she said she had mixed feelings ... anytime something gets improved here, it tends to get tangled up there ... like a kitten in a ball of twine. Reduced patient levels would probably lead to higher costs (as detractors claim), but something must be off-kilter if nurses got it onto a ballot.

A map might be handy, but terra incognita looms. No one knows what the future holds (remember the stupid part) and pretending the future can be known is pretty damned stupid .... however much anyone might wish it.

Fractious, fractured times. Healing and poverty and mercy and kindness are all possibilities ... just like their shadow-shadow-shadows.

1 comment:

  1. Curiously, google blogspot works only on google chrome for me, not firefox or safari. It's like building a highway that only allows chevy's.