Friday, November 13, 2015

Emily Dickinson on Donald Trump

Everyone knows that Emily Dickinson is the mother of American poetry, birthing the tradition in pharaonic union with her contemporary, opposite and brother, Walt Whitman. Few realize, however, that Dickinson was also a peerless political prophet, as evidenced by this perfect description of Donald Trump:

A face devoid of love or grace,
A hateful, hard, successful face,
A face with which a stone
Would feel as thoroughly at ease
As were they old acquaintances --
First time together thrown.

                                 --Poem 1711 (Johnson edition)

As the politician formerly known as 'The Donald' is a reductio ad absurdum of pretty much everything on the right wing, it's fitting that his rhetoric is also a masterpiece of psychological projection, that favorite defense mechanism of ideologues. (I have long contended that the best way to know what conservatives really believe is to turn back upon them the rhetorical charges they hurl at liberals. For example, liberals don't 'hate America,' but hardline so-called Conservatives seem to, hence their desire to radically change the country.) In Poor Donald's case, the projections appear pathetically personal. Whenever Trump calls an opponent 'weak' or 'a loser,' we should probably hear Trump's father saying to Young Donnie, "You're a weakling, Donald. You're a loser." Today's Trump, all these years later, projects upon his opponents the disavowed parts of his own self-image.

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