*Note: I wrote this before 7 November, but it’s still relevant and worth exploring.
I have been thinking about Donald Trump as synecdoche and what that could mean for the next few decades if we don’t understand and act on what that entails, e.g., if he loses the election (and concedes, too), we still need to deal with many major problems (which, mind you, are not by any means new or surprising): The climate that bore Trump; the climate that exists in his aftermath, albeit more than likely agitated and angered to a greater degree; the small details that, combined, create a problem as large as what we see in this election (I’m talking about sexism, racist, misogyny, islamophobia, neoliberalism, isolationism). What I mean by small details is that, for example, when cis men tell women that they’re beautiful even though this bothers women because unwritten in our societal language is the implication that women are required to say “thank you” or basically applaud men for being so bold and romantic. These are difficult to address because they’re greeted with stubborn dismissals. When I talk about this, I think of the Waking Life Espresso events in Asheville, NC. The two owners of the business were members of the Red Pill fraternity on Reddit and other weird and disturbing corners of the internet. After someone anonymously posted the owners’ podcast recordings and screenshots of their Twitter and blog feeds, Asheville erupted in rage, boycotting the coffee shop until, only a few days later, the owners closed Waking Life permanently. The reactions to the event were varied. Some men sided with the WL owners. Other men acted surprised that this could happen, that men treat women this way. But that reaction smacks of ignorance and insouciance. We, as women, know that these two men in Asheville were not outliers in an otherwise pleasant landscape.
My boyfriend and I drove across the country in July of 2016. I’ve told this story so many times that the experiences and memories have removed themselves to screenshots and elevator pitches. But it was still an incredibly humbling and centering journey. Primarily because the United States is SO BIG. Look up ‘big’ in a thesaurus for more information re: the vast and desolate landscape that is our country.
I took a few pictures while we were out in the middle of nowhere. This way when I’m re-reading Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead I can look at poorly composed iPhone pictures of Arizona/Nevada, &c., and I won’t have to try as hard to imagine the landscape of the play.
Because I’m the kind of person who’ll pick up a book and, half-way through the first page, suddenly find another book in my hand — I can’t commit! (My therapists know all too well.) These words from Francine Prose offer me guidance:
With so much reading ahead of you, the temptation might be to speed up. But in fact it’s essential to slow down and read every word … All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another.