President MOABA: Mother Of All Bullshit Artists
Picasso and other artists have echoed the idea that “all art is sham.” Is the observer or critic able to ferret out and articulate that sham? The most brilliant artist can be a self-centered monster whose sham is above and beyond the grasp of ordinary people. Consider the master Picasso, whose views on women were akin to Donald Trump's. “For me," Picasso said, "there are two kinds of women -- goddesses and doormats.” Trump boasted how celebrity permitted him to grab women by the crotch, the doormat types, while his wife Melania is a classic goddess. Consider film director Sydney Pollack’s lament, above, about politics and show business. In the age of social media, the line between pop culture and politics is fuzzy -- if it exists at all anymore.
What’s going on here? Writers like Daniel H. Pink, in a 2005 book titled A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, think it has something to do with the nature of the times in relation to the nature of the human brain and how they work together. “[T]he keys to the kingdom are changing hands,” Pink writes in his introduction. “The future belongs to a different kind of person with a very different kind of mind -- creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people -- artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers -- will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.” Charles Kenny in The Right Brain Way: Drive Your Brand With the Power of Emotion feels the same way; he runs a marketing and advertising service that focuses on getting deep into consumers' and voters' right brains to find what really moves them, so one can attach one's product to that emotion.
Metaphor is critical. The fullness of existence is beyond our grasp as human beings, so we design metaphors to get a grip on it. Metaphors amount to the overlap with familiar things we can get our mind around; they help us make sense of things we can't understand without them. But they're a two-edged sword. In the hands of the amoral, the power-hungry and the ruthless, metaphoric thinking can be oppressive and dismissive. For example, Make America Great Again as a metaphor for a better future hinges totally on how one defines great. If the metaphor is associated with the "greatness" of America’s past of Manifest Destiny, Jim Crow and the power of keeping people in line by bombing them, then, it’s a case of one man’s nostalgia is another’s nightmare.
How should journalists respond to this phenomenon? The “resistance” among elements of the mainstream media has been amazing to witness. The New York Times and The Washington Post have been at war with the new president; there’s no other word for it. But can that last? Following the Syrian tomahawk raid, it's common now to hear a sense of relief that Trump has come around and is acting like past presidents. There are adults in the room is a favored metaphor. The trigger for this was the tomahawk raid against Assad. Now the Mother Of All Bombs in Afghanistan.