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American PTSD

I’ve been thinking a lot about the cultural phenomena issuing from the trauma of a Trump presidency. In the first year, we had #metoo, in which powerful men who’d sexually assaulted and manipulated women (and sometimes men) actually faced consequences. It was such an obvious and constructive displacement of the rage we felt about not being able to unseat a well-known sex offender elected to the highest office in the land. Enter the 2018 elections, in which voter turnout hit a 50-year high, the Democrats finally took back the House of Representatives, and a record 117 women won office. More recently, have you noticed all the takedowns of liars and fraud schemes? Just today, my social media timelines include discussions of the admissions scandal; The Act, a Hulu series about the Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome queen DeeDee Blancharde; the Netflix and Hulu documentaries about the Fyre Festival fraud; and The Inventor, Alex Gibney’s doc about Elizabeth Holmes, the long-con CEO who even lied about her real voice. If only we could take down our Liar-in-Chief, too.

Then last night K and I saw Us, Jordan Peele’s brilliant followup to his game-changing Get Out. In the years leading to this Very White House, dystopia was the name of the Hollywood game. But now that a real-life dystopia has taken root, horror is the most logical cinematic response, and Peele’s American Horror Stories comprise an uprising unto themselves. Though his genius is fully his own, I believe the record-breaking public receptiveness to it partly can be attributed to the revelation that we’re in a real-Life American Horror Story. Exactly like that, actually. The demons of this country have been released like the spirits of a displaced Native American burial ground, and Peele’s reigning metaphor, the Sunken Place, reflects the ramifications of DT’s real gospel: Hate and Fear Thy Other.

We’ve all got PTSD–President Trump Stress Syndrome, also known as the DTs. And you know what? Some of our “symptoms” have been powerfully productive.

The Russian Dolls We Carry

I broke up with the Legend–or, really, my relationship with the Legend ended–because he ignored me in front of his ex-wife’s current wife and her infant son. If that sounds complicated, it’s actually a lot more complicated, but the bottom line is he clung to the sense of family that his ex and her clan provided him, and played uncle to her son as well as her sister’s kid. I’d always empathized with his desire to do so. But this meant that he was ignoring me in front of his people, and the sting was profound. It was hardly the first time he’d thrown me under a bus, but I suddenly saw how little he’d ever rally for me, how little I meant to him, and that only one path extended from that moment on my personal timeline.

And that path was Legend-free.

That’s exactly how I saw it. Even as I blew up at him later, even as I railed to friends, even as I masturbated with a violent grief, some part of me already was watching dispassionately from a future I now knew existed. A future in which this man I loved had no place.

That’s how I explained the breakup to people as soon as I was sure it would stick. With concern and maybe a little ennui knitting their features, they’d say, “How are you doing?” And I’d say, “I’m in the future now.”

I knew it was true even though I didn’t yet understand what I was saying. Continue Reading →

Message from the Management: Heart Power

We are gliding into a more matter-of-factly fourth-dimensional, energy-is-matter Age of Aquarius. Think I’m being lofty? Consider the new-fangled electronics you count on that even ten years ago would have been inconceivable. Consider how the pull of digital information is now as real as the pull of “real life.” And consider how speculative fiction and animation now deliver more plausible interpretations of modern life than the navel-gazing, self-important balderdash that conventionally passes as serious fiction and live-action. It all comes down to a new plane in which gravity responds to time like any other object. Our feelings fold chronologies and our passions warp each other’s paths. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy