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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Reading Donald Trump Through Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Message

Look at this image.Trump's wife is in shocking pink upstaging the red of the American flag. Ivanka, his beautiful and intelligent and FEMINIST daughter is in black matching Trump. Neither is adoring him.
MCLUHAN:THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE or FIGURE/GROUND
McLuhan left the "cliche it became" and reframed his thinking into; 
Medium as GROUND and Content as FIGURE

Digressing and Summarizing: The Medium is the Message STATES that the Medium, the Media, the Technology IS THE MESSAGE. Its CONTENT is irrelevant. Print as the Medium most influential for 500 years was the TECHNOLOGY carrying the MESSAGE. Books, newspapers, etc provided the CONTENT. While content was debated, analyzed, critiqued, studied, written about, spoken about, thought about,like angels on the head of a pin in old timey times, the Message was embedding itself in our minds and bodies. This is "The Inscription of the Body" detailed by Nietzsche and elaborated by Foucault, it is invisible. We were unaware for centuries that the MESSAGE carried by the Medium  of PRINT was invisible. THE MEDIUM IS INVISIBLE. The content is visible.The GROUND is INVISIBLE, the FIGURE is VISIBLE. Children have no problem in perceiving Ground, but as adults trained in the linear reading of PRINT the Ground becomes INVISIBLE, the FIGURE - content -dominates the visual and thinking field for us adults.

We can no longer SEE the GROUND. It is INVISIBLE  to us.

?OK so far?

The ICONIC figure: 
MUHAMMAD ALI; MALCOLM, PRINCE, BEATLES, EINSTEIN et al and THE DONALD, TRUMP  are all ICONIC


Ali and The Beatles

What does McLuhan have to say about the ICONIC figure?

THE ICONIC FIGURE merges Figure/Ground in ONE figure. (Merges the Medium and the Message.)The context and the content are ONE.

This is easy to see in MUHAMMAD ALI, THE BEATLES, EINSTEIN because they are DEAD, finished, their works now part of our culture, and so can be seen WHOLLY instead of piecemeal as they emerge for us, when alive. IMO the same is true of great buildings, monuments but NOT as they were being built, only when finished, named, visited and worshiped. Music, art - Picasso, Pollack, Leonardo, et al - the same.

!TRUMP HAS EMERGED IN THIS CAMPAIGN AS A VISIBLE ICONIC FIGURE!
He has merged Figure/Ground - Medium and Content

The Media for the Masses  CONTINUES to focus on CONTENT. 
The MESSAGE of the MEDIA is INVISIBLE! AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN!

So what is the MESSAGE we are getting about Trump? What is the CONTENT we are getting about Trump?

That's easy too. The CONTENT we are getting is that he is racist,  brutal, inexperienced, a bully, etc. What is the MESSAGE of the MEDIUM we are getting? 
That is the real QUESTION.

What is the INVISIBLE GROUND?

FEAR!

THE POLITICAL DEBORDIAN SPECTACLE


The CAMPAIGN is a SPECTACLE
The PRESIDENTIAL FIGURE is a SPECTACLE
CONGRESS is a SPECTACLE
The AMERICAN DEMOCRACY is a SPECTACLE
VOTING is a SPECTACLE
COUNTING the VOTES is a SPECTACLE
And so it goes as VONNEGUT would say.

The SPECTACLE CONCEALS the REAL - DEBORD;Baudrillard

If you wish to destroy something you MUST carry it to EXCESS - NIETZSCHE, AYN RAND ( The fictional Nietzschean disciple) or as Nietzsche said, "You must be WORSE!"

Donald Trump is WORSE. He is an ICONIC figure. He is the hyper-campaigner, the excessive campaigner, the outrageous campaigner, the campaigner who is WORSE! He cannot be debated in the Dominating Discourse of classical Hegelian opposition, that gray boring prose of the Political Discourse. 
HOW? THE DONALD silences all opposition.

ONE CANNOT ARGUE WITH OUTRAGEOUSNESS AND PARRHESIA

Interspersed with this outrageousness is PARRHESIA - FEARLESS SPEECH - the TRUTH that risks everything for the PARRHESIASTES! Trump has risked it all. WHY?

FOUCAULT


Trump has a deep CONTEMPT for the present charade, corruption, stupidity of the American political process and he is out to destroy it. He has destroyed the GOP which so many of us have been trying to do by our focus on CONTENT which does not and can never work, as it debates on THEIR playing field in an endless game of ping pong, he said, she said.

No one can win on that FIELD of DISCOURSE.

So Trump is playing on a different field. A field that is NOT INVISIBLY VIOLENT concealed by the ACCEPTED Political Discourse

TRUMP IS PUTTING-ON the entire POLITICAL SYSTEM OF MACHINERY
TRUMP IS A PUT-ON and if you are in on his game you can see it and cheer, revel in the downfall of a corrupt and unfixable system. 

What will be next? 
As Plato has said, "All DEMOCRACY leads to TOTALITARIANISM since democratic candidates must always appeal to the lowest common denominator to get elected." 
Trump is following PLATO. 
\
DEFINITELY GOOD COMPANY


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