Donald Trump: Worshipping the Electronic Image

By CHRIS HEDGES
Information Clearing House
18 February 2019

“Trump’s primary concerns as president are his ratings, his popularity and his image…. He speaks at the level of a seventh-grader…. He embodies the incoherence of the modern digital age.” — Chris Hedges


Donald Trump, like much of the American public, is entranced by electronic images. He interprets reality through the distortions of digital media. His decisions, opinions, political positions, prejudices and sense of self are reflected back to him on screens. He views himself and the world around him as a vast television show with himself as the star.

Trump’s primary concerns as president are his ratings, his popularity and his image. He is a creature—maybe the poster child—of the modern, post-literate culture, a culture that critics such as Marshall McLuhan, Daniel Boorstin, James W. Carey and Neil Postman warned us about.

It is not, as some have suggested, merely that Trump speaks at the level of a seventh-grader or that he harkens back to a preliterate oral culture. He embodies the incoherence of the modern digital age, filled with sudden shifts from subject to subject, a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows punctuated with commercials. There is nonstop stimulation. Seldom does anything occupy our attention for more than a few seconds. Nothing has context. Images overwhelm words. We are perpetually confused, but always entertained. We barely remember what we saw or heard a few minutes earlier. This is by design of the elites who manipulate us.

“It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse,” Postman points out. “It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.” Americans, because television stages their world, “no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other.” Trump is what is produced when a society severs itself from print, when it pushes art, ethics, classics, philosophy, history and the humanities to the margins of the universities and culture, when its members spend hours sitting inert in front of a screen. Information, ideas and epistemology are, as Postman writes, given form today by electronic images.

It is a mistake to see what is happening as cultural regression. It is worse than that. Oral cultures prized memorization and cultivated the high art of rhetoric. Leaders, playwrights and poets in oral cultures did not speak to their publics in Trump’s crude vernacular. More ominous than the president’s impoverished vocabulary is that he cannot string together sentences that make sense. This replicates not only the shoddy vocabulary of television, but more importantly the incoherence of television. Trump is able to communicate with tens of millions of Americans, also raised in front of screens, because they too have been linguistically and intellectually mutated by digital images. They lack the ability to detect lies or think rationally. They are part of our post-truth culture.

Nearly any tweet or spoken remark by Trump illustrates this incoherence. In a Jan. 31 interview with The New York Times he gave this answer when asked about the gruesome murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul:

Yeah. Khashoggi. I thought it was a terrible crime. But if you look at other countries, many other countries. You look at Iran, not so far away from Saudi Arabia, and take a look at what they’re doing there. So, you know, that’s just the way I feel. Venezuela is very much in flux. We’ve been hearing about it for probably 14 years now, between the two of them. And some terrible things are happening in Venezuela. So, if I can do something to help people. It’s really helping humanity, if we can do something to help people, I’d like to do that.

“ANY TWEET OR SPOKEN REMARK BY TRUMP
ILLUSTRATES HIS INCOHERENCE.”

INCOHERENCE:

“Yeah. Khashoggi. I thought it was a terrible crime … Look at Iran, not so far away from Saudi Arabia … and Venezuela is very much in flux …  It’s really helping humanity … I’d like to do that.”

The fixation on electronic images by Trump means he and millions of other American adults—who, according to a 2018 report by the Nielsen company, on average watch four hours, 46 minutes of TV each day and spend “over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media”—have severed themselves from complex thought.

They have been infantilized.

Television, including the news, reduces all reality to a childish, cartoonish simplicity.

News as presented on screens “provides degenerate photographs or a pseudo-reality of stereotypes,” James W. Carey writes. “News can approximate truth only when reality is reducible to a statistical table: sport scores, stock exchange reports, births, deaths, marriages, accidents, court decisions, elections, economic transactions such as foreign trade or balance of payments.”

News on our screens is incapable of imparting complexity and nuance. It is devoid of historical, social or cultural context. TV news speaks in easily digestible clichés and political and cultural tropes. It is sensational and fragmented. The frenetic pace of TV news means that except when delivering statistics, the programs can trade only in established stereotypes.

Postman, in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, writes that after the development of the telegraph, “News took the form of slogans, to be noted with excitement, to be forgotten with dispatch.” Arguing that the 19th-century invention is the basis for communication in the digital age, he says:

“Its language was also entirely discontinuous. One message had no connection to that which preceded or followed it. Each ‘headline’ stood alone as its own context. The receiver of the news had to provide a meaning if he could. The sender was under no obligation to do so. And because of all this, the world as depicted by the telegraph began to appear unmanageable, even undecipherable.

The line-by-line, sequential, continuous form of the printed page slowly began to lose its resonance as a metaphor of how knowledge was to be acquired and how the world was to be understood. ‘Knowing’ the facts took on a new meaning, for it did not imply that one understood implications, background, or connections. Telegraphic discourse permitted no time for historical perspectives and gave no priority to the qualitative.”

Those who seek to communicate outside of digital structures to question or challenge the dominant narrative, to deal in ambiguity and nuance, to have discussions rooted in verifiable fact and historical context, are becoming incomprehensible to most of modern society.

As soon as they employ a language that is not grounded in the dominant clichés and stereotypes, they are not understood. Television, computers and smartphones have addicted a generation and conditioned it to talk and think in the irrational, incoherent baby talk it is fed day after day. This cultural, historical, economic and social illiteracy delights the ruling elites who design, manage and profit from these sophisticated systems of social control. Armed with our personal data and with knowledge of our proclivities, habits and desires, they adeptly manipulate us as consumers and citizens to accelerate their amassing of wealth and consolidation of power.

“The only people who grasp the distinction between reality and appearance, who grasp the laws of conduct and society, are the ruling groups and those who do their bidding: scientific, technical elites who elucidate the laws of behavior and the function of society so that people might be more effectively, albeit unconsciously, governed,” Carey writes in “Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society.”

Daniel Boorstin in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Reality in America argues that the fabricated, the inauthentic and the theatrical have now displaced the natural, the genuine and the spontaneous. Reality has become stagecraft. We live in a world, he writes, “where fantasy is more real than reality.” He warns:

We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic,’ that they can live in them. We are the most illusioned people on earth. Yet we dare not become disillusioned, because our illusions are the very house in which we live; they are our news, our heroes, our adventure, our forms of art, our very experience.

Trump is a product of this cultural decay, not an aberration. The way he speaks, acts and thinks is the way many Americans speak, act and think. He will one day disappear, but the cultural degeneracy that produced him will remain. Academic institutions, which should be the repositories of culture and literacy, are transforming themselves, often with corporate money, into adjuncts of the digital age, expanding departments that deal with technology, engineering and computer science—the largest major at universities such as Princeton and Harvard—while diminishing the disciplines that deal with art, philosophy, ethics, history and politics. These disciplines, rooted in print, are the only antidotes to cultural death.

Intellectual historian Perry Miller in his essay The Duty of Mind in a Civilization of Machines calls us to build counterweights to communication technology in order “to resist the paralyzing effects upon the intellect of the looming nihilism” that defines the era.

In short, the more we turn off our screens and return to the world of print, the more we seek out the transformative power of art and culture, the more we re-establish genuine relationships, conducted face-to-face rather than through a screen, the more we use knowledge to understand and put the world around us in context, the more we will be able to protect ourselves from the digital dystopia.

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21 thoughts to “Donald Trump: Worshipping the Electronic Image”

  1. Trump? Who cares? The alternative to a Trump presidency wouldn’t have been any better or worse. America is a one-party system anyway.

    I’m more concerned with the slick, verbally gifted types who have answers or an analysis for anything and everything.

    1. I think we’re at the point where it matters very much to the elders, and I’ll tell you why: The elders are insatiable and their agenda of complete world domination and control at any cost is non-negotiable. The problem they have is that all the low-hanging imperial fruit has already been picked, thus the further expansion of the empire will come only at greatly increased cost and risk.

      Because of this they need a very special person in the white house. Just being run-of-the-mill evil won’t suffice; they need someone who’s willing to risk planetary extinction for the sake of their agenda. Hillary Clinton would probably have no problem killing lots of people in far away places (people who generally can’t fight back), but what about when war with Russia and/or China is on the table? Would Clinton be able to give the order that may kill her own grandchildren?

  2. The ordinary people I meet in America know that the coastal liberal elites do not respect them or share their values. Hillary Clinton showed breathtaking arrogance in calling them “The Deplorables”. Donald Trump is a narcissistic buffoon, but he is not Hillary Clinton.

    I am no socialist but I like Bernie Sanders.

  3. if one reads the art of the deal one finds that the donald relies on his kaballa teacher more than most.
    spellcraft and the casting of
    he reminds me of the empty character robert de niro played in the king of comedy especially the on stage speech patterns
    these folks are all ashkanazi puppets
    the question is who is surrounded by more chabad drumpf trumped or putin.

    look to babylon before words sin bulls lots of finger action and inverted pyramid gestures.
    all of them witches or trans folks or just captured via epstein island type blackmail

    oded yinon never sleeps
    brown semites must be cleansed from the lands of new khazaria
    coming soon bbc simon schamas new revised history of the near and middel east
    a non jewish tale
    sad : (

      1. My understanding is that among these “archons” are Annunaki descendants, earlier ones of whom presided over the writing of the protocols

        It is they that “make” the elite jooz do what they do. And they do so….willingly

  4. “Donald Trump, like much of the American public, is entranced by electronic images. He interprets reality through the distortions of digital media. His decisions, opinions, political positions, prejudices and sense of self are reflected back to him on screens. He views himself and the world around him as a vast television show with himself as the star.”

    I have to partly disagree. Orange clown does what he does because he’s evil, not because of the “distortions of digital media.” To put it another way, we all grew up subject to the malign influence of the jewish-controlled mass media, but only a few of us became diabolical mass murderers like orange clown. The existence of people like Ron Paul and Walter Jones (RIP) strip the orange clown of all the handy excuses.

    “News on our screens is incapable of imparting complexity and nuance. It is devoid of historical, social or cultural context. TV news speaks in easily digestible clichés and political and cultural tropes. It is sensational and fragmented. The frenetic pace of TV news means that except when delivering statistics, the programs can trade only in established stereotypes.”

    But not all of this is a problem inherent to modern mass communications; it is in large part because the mass-media has been “weaponized” (like almost everything else in this society). For example, Rick Sanchez (RT America) does a pretty good job of imparting “complexity and nuance”; especially when he presents important topics.

    “Trump is a product of this cultural decay, not an aberration. The way he speaks, acts and thinks is the way many Americans speak, act and think. He will one day disappear, but the cultural degeneracy that produced him will remain.”

    Orange clown is Charles Manson in a suit and tie. Orange clown is “president” because in a society where the political process has been subverted by jews, only the most inherently evil people can generally rise to positions of significant political power, with the most powerful office requiring the most evil person. No doubt the evil clown will disappear some day, the question is, how much damage will he do in the meantime?

    1. (ADMIN: Typo in your email address. Please correct or expect delays).

      Harold, what if by some remarkable development Ron Paul had become President and then agreed with his Generals that firing twenty cruise missiles into Syria to destroy an airfield to be a prudent act of the Commander in Chief.

      Would Ron Paul also then become a mass murdering psychopath right before our eyes?

      1. Thanks admin. And here I’ve been doing so well at spelling my own name and email address lately.
        I’m pretty sure the after effects of that pesky flu (or maybe twas the archons) made me do it.

      2. @ HP

        Absolutely; mass-murder is mass-murder whether the Zodiac killer does it or the president of the U.S. does it.

        Once you allow such a lawless, murderous act by a president, where do you stop? What are the limits?

  5. Psycho-Techno Mesmerism, with a bigly dash of pharmacopeia.

    In the immortal words of little Stevie Wonder —
    “When you believe in things
    That you don’t understand,
    Then you suffer,
    Superstition ain’t the way…”

    Nobody knows (or should know) this better than Chris Hedges and Co..

  6. trump’s lack of eloquence is lamentable, but i’m not sure we should hang every deficiency of the modern media age right around his neck as though he we responsible for it or v v.. capitalist media suxx, that’s right, and trump is no george washington, thomas jefferson or abraham lincoln, he’s no jfk,
    too bad.. but he’s still preferable by far to the likes of gwb, cheney, hillary , obama and all the pedophile deviates at the dnc…
    is trump’s general gaucherie a bigger crisis than the child murder rings operating in dc and hollywood?
    from what i heard, trump has arrested hundreds of pedophiles, since he’s been in office…
    is this the real paranoid reason chris hedges and the deep state hate him so bad?
    yes, chris hedges has interesting programs on rt.. but an hour in front of rt gives you the clear message – rt operates on the same offensively aggressive corporate method as fox news..
    i can’t count the times i’ve turned them both off, offended at the repetitious blare between programs…
    it’s obvious, the imperious attitude, surely they should understand the cop shooting the motorist with mlk in the background on rt (enlightened?) or the pillow commercial on fox is abusive of their own audiences…
    i wish he was eloquent, but i’m willing to give it to trump – that he speaks the language of action, if it does seem a little disjointed, because, whatever else, he is a man of action, with a lot on his mind..
    very interesting, the blurb about how telegraph set the pattern for the desultory news media wasteland of the modern day.. not hard to imagine marketers attaching their ads to the sensational headlines coming in…
    otherwise, statistics would be the only reliable form of news info, which may be what people appreciate about sports news…
    of course we could question, if hedges, who is eloquent, is none the less guilty of the same sensationalism, as he panders his own brand of chicken little disaster hype..
    i wonder what good that guy could do if he ever accentuated the positives…

  7. Is Chris Hedges maybe suggesting that the President of the USA is not fit for office because of lacking “intelligence” while being underdeveloped in regards to an average Human IQ?
    When looking at the dramatic play that’s acting out life on earth, demockcrassies, international pillaging, rape and deceit into all aspects of human life a seventh grader or far below in standards of worldly education would surely able to run a country where truth has long been forgotten and only acts as a symbol of what it presents not: A designed, propagandised and suited puppet on some organised strings that can be cut instantly while diverting and conquering voters of the most demockcratic Nation on earth into another nirvana of superiority, freedom and religious Satanism while sucking the last drop of blood out of their own hosts and environment.
    Surely President Trump must be fit for office as was every single “elected” President in American history before him.
    Not fit for office of American presidency or Governing bodies around the world – clearly would be a human being with a pure heart of compassion and love for fellow human beings at home and abroad – in equality and common interests as one – and a sensitive approach to the survival of the home planet that has been the base of mankind since millenniums.

    “According to a 2018 report by the Nielsen company, on average “Americans” watch four hours, 46 minutes of TV each day and spend “over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media” the citizens of USA are well prepared for mass fed education.
    Intelligence surely does not linger nor live here!

    One imagine a life without diversion. A life where its life form and eternal answers are sought from within oneself and creation itself – without the help of educators and institutions of corporations that mislead ALL that life and creation ever stood for – would surely not be intelligent enough to survive the human condition of slavery while constantly being mocked, exploited and used as a worthless tool pretending to be “intelligent”.

    One imagine the “emptiness” beyond bombarded education, the vastness of clarity containing knowledge and wisdom without charge and time consuming learning – though how scary that would be to come in touch with oneself and study oneness as oneness is and ever was?

  8. TJ can’t wait. In a few short years when America’s minorities become all together America’s majority, She Guevara Ocasio-Cortez may very well descend from the higher realms of the non-white dispensation and land with a landslide into the White House. Eat your hearts out Hillary* and Bernie**, your time has passed. It takes a (somewhat) pretty face and a brain full of Marxist mush to lead the American dystopian idiocracy into the dustbin of history. Egads, America may already be in the dustbin of history and most just don’t know it.
    * Does Hillary have a heart?
    **Sorry Bernie, if your not pretty Marxist mush just won’t cut it.

  9. An interesting take away here is that if we presume that the author is correct about trump, we must also credit HIS GENETICS for still being able to see up, over, and through all this insidious training and culture that has been foisted on him.
    Because all things said, his heart still seems to be in the right place as for what he WANTS to get done.
    I just hope he grows the courage, or hires a person like me who doesn’t need it, to roll in and drain the swamp with the special forces and a whole lot of nooses.

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