I have begun work on an opera–Belshazzar at Mar-a-Lago.
In their attempts to descry portents in the flight of birds, ancient augurs oriented themselves toward the north. Flights from the right hand (East) were viewed as affirmation of the query, from the left, negation. Significantly, during the Roman Empire, this orientation was reversed. The cardinal point upon which political, ethical, and moral standards were based was suddenly reversed by Imperial decree.
Perhaps a similar reversal can help explain the spiritual affliction of Trump; as well as his seeming inability to properly honor fallen soldiers.
It might seem odd that we might learn from aviary divination something about double-speak and toxic spew of the Trump era, but ancient lore often discloses timeless truths which defy the logic on which we base our most cherished assumptions about reality today.
In Sophocles play, Antigone, Creon pits his tyrannical rule over that of non-political institutions, family ties, and the will of the gods. By refusing to bury the corpse of Polynices–who dared challenge his rule–he even tries to subordinate the gods of the underworld to his authority.
Though he claims to promote the common good–that of the city over family ties–Creon flouts divine decree, the dictates of custom and common decency. As a result, the city is plunged into a dark malaise so vividly evoked by Tiresias:
The public altars and sacred hearths are fouled,
one and all, by birds and dogs with carrion
torn from the corpse, the doomstruck son of Oedipus!
And so the gods are deaf to our prayers, they spurn
The offerings in our hands, the flame of holy flesh.
No birds cry out an omen clear and true…
The real weight of meaning is driven home to Creon by what the omens do not say, and he finally acknowledges his greatest sin–denial of sacred burial rites for a son of his predecessor, Oedipus–only after bringing ruin to his home, family, and reign.
I reminded of the ancient, Chinese art of Feng Shui where, through practical as well as highly esoteric remedies, the built environment was altered in ways auspicious to health and prosperity. Mirrors were mounted on home fronts to counter the negative chi of neighbors. The neighbor then responded in kind, but with a larger mirror, and it soon escalated into all out, speculum warfare. I see something similar in the endless projections that one side of the political spectrum visits upon the other to manipulate public perception.
Milo Yiannopoulos’s ambiguous role is fabricated to appeal to opposite ends of conservative spectrum, so that both sides might then be swayed toward more extreme, alt-right views. He explained his role perfectly by saying his position with Breitbart countered the perception that the Alt Right is homophobic, and racist. He’s a shill to make their hateful rhetoric appeal to edgy progressives and third-party stooges in order to draw them into the alt-right fold. Also, since Yiannopoulos is gay, the alt-right can spin this to deflect accusations of intolerance.
The world was perplexed by 45’s recent, shrill warning about immigration when he said: “Look what’s happening in Sweden!” We are quick to cite this as just another example of his lies. Then, a few days later, riots break out in Rinkeby. The Alt Right News then posts an article proclaiming 45’s near mystical powers of prognostication.
Through the election until now, I’ve been struck by the propaganda, mendacity and maddening projection, whereby paid trolls exploit gullible viewers and draw them toward extreme positions on both the left and right.
This is not meant to cast aspersions on Thom Hartman, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, or the good intentions of their supporters. But I think it’s a lapse of judgement on Thom’s part. The trade-off isn’t worth it.
The word “troll” needs qualification–there are many forms. Some are ornery cranks who, at least, honestly represent their true motives. Some are masters, who raise trolling to an art form–SNL’s Fatal Attraction satire is an example–while others are paid by the alt-right to pose as progressives who encourage us to speak against our own self-interest. Much troll activity is to get us to echo Alt-Right, talking points.
For instance, trolls–under the guise of progressives–encourage members of the resistance to gloat about the murder of a Klansman. This only validates the extreme, right wing propaganda that claims the left is the hateful, violent party. This image of the left as violent can be used as pretext to attack protesters. This is crucial. At this time of escalating tensions, we can practice a compassion and human decency that accords with sound strategy–to say nothing of protecting ourselves and loved ones who participate in peaceful protests.
We need to be wary of the propaganda campaign against the DNC which encourages progressives to smear Elizabeth Warren for her alleged, selling out to establishment Democrats. According to this line, it is not Russian interference, but she and Hillary who are ultimately responsible for # 45, as well as our current malaise. You see this echoed on the RT affiliated, Ring of Fire and Redacted Today videos. Since Putin doesn’t allow dissenting opinion–without an ulterior motive–are the rad hosts of R of F being exploited by Putin in his attempt at a global coup? Or are they willfully parroting his party line?
The ultimate form of control is to compel us to participate in our own subjugation. Putin, from his KGB experience, knows this well. We shouldn’t be stooges, drawn by trolls into dizzying webs of dissembling and projection. Don’t allow them to frame the dialogue in their own terms.
Actually, there is some truth to progressive intolerance–we are intolerant of the racist and treasonous policies of the 45 gang.