The State Of Our Unreliable Narrator Is Ugly And Malicious

The phrase “unreliable narrator” was coined by Wayne Booth, University of Chicago English professor, in his 1961 book The Rhetoric of Fiction.  James Phelan of Ohio State University, in a 2007 journal article, parsed two types of unreliable narration: “Estranging Unreliability, Bonding Unreliability, and the Ethics of ‘Lolita.'”

I fervently hope that the instant TV analysts of tonight’s State of the Union Address focus not on the laughable question,  “did he become presidential yet?” but rather on the far more fascinating issue, “what kind of unreliable narration are we dealing with tonight?”  For example, can the president do “estranging unreliability” and “bonding unreliability” at the same time?  Will he thus succeed in disorienting enough people, including media influencers and elites, to get away with the obstructions that he himself foretold would amount to an openly visible crime scene (sub 1600 Penn Ave for Fifth Avenue).   I assume (based on experience at this point, not prejudgment; yes, I gave him a chance, time’s up) malicious unreliability from this president, and am happy that many if not most Americans are quite aware of the maliciousness and the unreliability and are already tired enough of it to overcome GOP gerrymandering this November and place an Article One check on presidential abuse of power.  But it is a dangerous harrowing time for America’s constitutional democratic republic.


James Phelan article:

From Distention To Intention (2018)

If there was ever a year when people all over need to move from “distentio animi” (the soul stretched out of shape and distracted) to “intentio animi” (roughly, concentration) and from discordance to concordance, it’s now, 2018.  Of course Americans are not united, but I expect even those who figured what the heck let’s roll the dice in 2016, not necessarily from evil intent but in many cases out of real frustration, many if not most such people are worried and troubled by what they saw in 2017.  Every president has the capacity to initiate events, for better or worse.  But there is now an election in view, and it is now possible for those Americans who want to check and balance this president to focus on doing so.  Yes he can try to get us to pay attention to shiny objects and yes we may get fooled into diving down one or two rabbit holes, but there is hope for “intention” this year, intention for the sake of protecting our constitutional rights and our way of life (imperfect though it is).  We need to insist on sane and responsible representation this November.  We voted (via the electoral college, bless its quasi-democratic heart) to take a risky path a year and a half ago, but we have a chance to repair, I hope, much of the damage this fall.  Any politician, in spite of possibly honorable past service, who is subservient to our current president is not serving freedom and democracy well at this point.  If that sounds oblivious to the many flaws of the Democratic Party or “the left,” so be it.  Differences over the proper size and shape of the federal government are one thing.  Protecting freedom and the Constitution is a higher imperative at this moment.

P.S. For a seemingly abstract (though in Augustine, book 11, strikingly concrete) take on “distention” and intention, see the following sources (Augustine’s Confessions as translated recently by Sarah Ruden; Peter Brown’s review of Ruden’s version; and Paul Ricoeur’s interpretation of Augustine):

57 Gorilla Channels And Nothing On

I admit that I found the “gorilla channel” parody of Michael Wolff’s Fire And Fury book plausible for a brief shining moment.  Seventeen hours a day seemed a bit much, but who am I to judge a man with the single-minded focus of our president?

Does the Wolff book tell us anything we didn’t already know or suspect? Not really.  Do we need any more incriminating stories from the Washington Post or New York Times or Buzzfeed or (credit where due, despite their editorial stance, which is pure flying-monkey style agitprop) Wall Street Journal?  I imagine Robert Mueller’s team, if not removed by agents of the Trump regime, will disclose a lot more detail, but we have been able to read enough already about meetings with Russians and alleged money laundering, not to mention the obvious Emoluments Clause violations, to judge for ourselves that the current executive in Washington is utterly corrupt and unfit.  Josh Marshall is right to call what we are seeing an “active crime scene.”  There is plenty of evidence of turpitude, for those with ears to hear and eyes to read.

We the people–preferably in the person of our elected representatives, but also in the form of First Amendment-authorized peaceable assembly–just need to move from the “distention” of 2017 (I felt stretched out of shape, anyway) to the “intention” of 2018.  The next election is now in sight.  Even though this president, like any president, has plenty of power to initiate events and cause unnecessary trouble, we Americans have the capacity now to focus our energy on checking his power in just a few months’ time.