Painting isn't an aesthetic operation; it's a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us. . . . It's an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.
- Pablo Picasso
I think it's a terrible shame that politics has become show business.
- Sydney Pollack
Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art.
To call the ever-shifting decisions and actions from Donald Trump and his team of Billionaire Big Shots a dark comedy is a natural defensive response. I do it all the time. But it may be time to recognize it has become inadequate to address our condition as citizen/victims of a looming train wreck. Donald Trump is not funny anymore.
As a New Yorker review of Stephen Colbert's Late Show painfully suggests, the satire/journalism of a Colbert and a Jon Stewart, while sanity-saving, come up short in the face of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Bill Maher works better, because he has much more edge. It's also true that superlatives like preposterous begin to fall short.
Donald Trump's political world as a Jackson Pollack painting called 'Jump In'
(Image by unknown) Permission Details DMCA
As we watch classic authoritarianism seep into what's glibly touted as a constitutional republic, how does journalism respond? In a "post-truth" intellectual environment where a presidential adviser can with a straight face propose "alternative facts," how does one report anything? When absolutely everything is in question, how can answers be anything but opinions? What does journalism do when the ground underneath it is destabilized and all the truth-seeking oxygen is sucked out of the air by a Mother Of All Bombs set off in the middle of the country's most revered faith in a free press?
The real news is the Trump phenomenon makes sense only as dark theater or evil art. This President has roots and experience not in the Law or the Military or Governing -- but in the world of Finance and Entertainment. He's a self-proclaimed master of the Art of the Deal. He made himself a TV star by his willingness and relish for firing people. He deals in superlatives; when he likes you you're wonderful; when he doesn't, you're a worthless dog subject to the cruelest ridicule. The pivot from one to the other is "transactional" and can be virtually instantaneous. One minute he's strangely sucking up to Vladimir Putin who can do no wrong and in the next he's condemning him and bombing Russia's close protectorate in the Middle East. For such a narcissistic Artist Of the Real, the nation itself becomes a personal canvas. Dawn Tweet storms and monstrous bombs become like concentrated daubs of cobalt blue or violently flung gobs and slashes of cadmium yellow onto the canvas of state.