Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Watching The Trump Reality Show Unfold On The American Stage...

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Personally, I think way too many Americans are addicted to reality shows.

Oh and this teaser from The New Yorker.

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912. Nine days later, Thomas Hardy composed a poem about the disaster called “The Convergence of the Twain.” Many poets were mourning the dead; Hardy took a different approach. He asked readers to contemplate the accident’s prehistory: to imagine how, even as the great ship was being built, the iceberg—its “sinister mate”—had also been growing. “No mortal eye could see / The intimate welding of their later history,” Hardy wrote. But, even so, “They were bent / By paths coincident / On being anon twin halves of one august event.”

The poem’s theory of history—as something that unfolds through fated convergences—is also a theory of leadership. For leadership to exist, a leader must cross paths with a crisis; an exemplary person must meet her “sinister mate.” Without an answering crisis, a would-be leader remains just a promising custodian of potential. (Imagine Lincoln without the Civil War or F.D.R. without the Depression.) Before a leader can pull us out of despair, we have to fall into it. For this reason, a melancholy ambivalence can cling to even the most inspiring stories of leadership.

People who fetishize leadership sometimes find themselves longing for crisis. They yearn for emergency, dreaming of a doomsday to be narrowly averted. Last month, Donald Trump’s campaign released its first official TV advertisement. The ad features a procession of alarming images—the San Bernardino shooters, a crowd at passport control, the flag of Syria’s Al Nusra Front—designed to communicate the idea of a country under siege. But the ad does more than stoke fear; it also excites, because it suggests that we’ve arrived at a moment welcoming to the emergence of a strong and electrifying leader. (Trump, a voice-over explains, will “quickly cut the head off ISIS—and take their oil.”) By making America’s moment of crisis seem as big (or “huge”) as possible, Trump makes himself seem more consequential, too.More below the fold.

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