Friday, September 01, 2017

The Grand Canyon Wide Narrative Divide


Counterpunch |  Much of this turn toward no authority beyond one’s own opinion, truth as a narrative, alternative facts, and reality and reason as self-designed came to fruition cataclysmically with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and his election, most stupefying for some and exhilarating for others. I refer to a cataclysm because regardless of what Trump narrative you are in, his election is an event both surprising and momentous. The narrative divide here is not over policy but personality as those on both the Democrat and Republican side wonder how such a man can be president and what kind of people would vote for him as president. Although there have been countless armchair psychiatric exams of Trump, he yet remains outside an established political frame of understanding. You have to switch jump into another story frame to make him real, a jump to the spinscape of Reality TV and the hyperreal of celebrity and enormous wealth that infects the American cultural imaginary.

This is a jump every Trump supporter made; into a world narrated in the same way they narrate the world. It is not a jump that all those who voted for Hillary were able to make, not by choice but because they were already living elsewhere. Both narrative realms are variously plotted and valued but the grounding force separating them seems clearly to be an enormous wealth divide and the long term consequences of that. In a simplified and also over generalized way, we have a meritocratic, professionalized, dividend recipient story/reality frame over here and over there we have a narrative world we’ve not been inclined to narrate until Trump won the election.

The disinclination or disinterest has of course been on the side of those who have been before the advent of The Web in a gatekeeper position to narrate the world we are all in from their perspective. What that has meant in terms of the politics of narrative is that a good deal of frustration was built up in those whose stories of the world were impeded by not being disseminated. At the same time it meant that the Impeding Gatekeepers had encased themselves in a bubble of their own selective narrating, confining themselves to a selective vision of things which excluded, as we now know, those 78% who live on wages that have remained flat forever.

The fact that Donald J. Trump is now president of the United States is astounding and troubling to this rarefied zone faction unacquainted with the lines of the story he seems to be following. They are, however, more unacquainted with those who are loyal to Trump and remain so. These Trumpians live in a life-world that remains opaque and unknown to those whose own life-world distinguishes itself by excluding such recognition and such knowledge.

Those who are not drawn to the slogan “Make America Great Again” are already enjoying the present America. And if they live in gated communities, one of the reasons they do so is avoid contact with those unhappy, disgruntled by their present status in America. In a politics of narrative world, this unacquaintance signals surprise if this unhappy faction reaches visibility on the national stage. More accurately, they have reached that visibility via both Trump and The Web of cyberspace. Trump continues to communicate with his followers on Twitter because he did not reach the presidency and they did not reach visibility by the paths of “governing principles” already cordoned off to them.