Did we see a “Throwback?” No, an On-Line Game

Ranger and I have been grousing about Trump (again!) and have been exploring a question: “What would Darwin think of Trump?”

Ranger: “So, what do you think? Would Darwin have been able to explain the Trump phenomena?”

Me: “Are you suggesting, as I think you are, that Trump is an Avatar? That we were cruising along on the evolutionary upward trajectory with the previous administration, and then WHAM we get hit with a major throwback that doesn’t make any sense? A throwback is something that has legs where there shouldn’t be any, or sprouts hair in places where it doesn’t belong.”

Ranger: “Certainly Trump doesn’t belong there, as much as I’d like to consign him to it. He belongs in a very different world, one that perhaps could be understood by on-line gamers.”

Me: “How do avatars work in gaming? The word avatar is an ancient Hindu one, describing a deity’s earthly manifestation. In popular culture avatars are used in computer games and in on-line chat rooms where the player or customer designs or is assigned a virtual character. It becomes a shorthand and effective way to identify oneself on line and allows for fun and entertainment for the people involved.”

Ranger: “Keep going with that thought…. do you think Trump’s customers were buying him as a way to play a game? Forget the throwback. You’re talking a different kind of crazy forward… yes?”

Me: “Well, yes. Trump’s customers bought into a chat room where they received simple phrases coded to reassure them, and it was one step removed from real life, so it was a safe place for them to be. In virtual reality you can say things that are not politically correct back in real life. Trump was a skilled hacker/programmer that people bought off the shelf, and nobody really expected that in real life he could become a president. Then oops! His supporters were participating in an huge game in real life.”

Ranger: “So is this an evolutionary advance? Is this what we can expect of our national political system? Seems to me that it’s a stark break with the reality of the past, where real policies were debated and real people made tough decisions.”

Me: “I think this is what we need to get used to. It isn’t a throwback as such, although it seems like it. It is an edge of evolutionary development… we don’t like it, and we don’t understand it. But we must deal with it. Last time you put in a picture of Darryl’s sculpture of an emerging woman. Did you really expect this is what you’d learn from her…that the world was an on-line game and completely divorced from the real world we thought we lived in? Back to our talk about truth here, Ranger. Truth now is ‘fluid’ in a way we’ve never before seen. But this is where we are planted. Best to bloom.”

Ranger on Truth, or Lack Thereof

We are talking now about truth, or the lack of. After living through the last few weeks watching the notion of truth assaulted at every level, I realize I am a probably a member of the “Liberal Elite.” I have seen things through the lens of my education, my “privilege” of being white, of being a part of the Post WWII “rising tide of expectations.” While Ranger is always concerned about me, he is especially concerned on the week we will have a new president.

It is a whack on the side of my head, to understand all of this. I’m nowhere close.

Me: “Ranger, I figured I was part of the cultural trend toward progressivism. I thought all those initiatives (education, job opportunities for women and minorities, participating in the exciting discussion about civil rights, demonstrating for minority and gay rights, being part of a book club that read more than novels…. all of that was a mark of not only good fortune, but also a place most people would like to be with me. It seemed to culminate last year when the Supreme Court made marriage equality the standard for this nation.”

Ranger: “Well, it would appear that those things are still true for you, so what’s your point?”

Me: “So why did this guy get elected? I know a couple of people who voted for him, but they cannot articulate their positions, so I dismissed their positions as irrelevant. What have I missed?”

Ranger: “You missed the very point you’re making. You expected the liberal elite to be ascendant and you counted on your ‘friends’ to be in awe, no matter what their background or their daily experiences. It never occurred to you that your degrees and your book clubs and your generous view of the world would NOT be shared. But if you think back on it, you can identify people who always had nothing much to say other than cheer you on or accepted your hospitality or learned to pronounce names by imitating how you pronounced them. Now tell the truth on this. You know I’m right. This guy tapped into the unease they felt at being only a cheerleader and never the quarterback on the team.”

Me: “Okay, I concede, but I’m not ready to admit that there were so many they actually won the electoral college and carried the day.”

Ranger: “Oh, come on. Grow up. There are many, and they formed a silent majority this time.”

Me: “You’re suggesting that I surrender my elitist progressive mindset?”

Ranger: “Hell no!!! You’re not listening, my friend. The scriptures you were raised with advise that you should be wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove. This has everything to do with a mindset to get through this turmoil. Reach back there into your background and resurrect this, spend time out there with the birds and wild things, and then come out and fight for the ideals you believe in… ”

"Emerging Woman," a carving by Darryl Saffer.
“Emerging Woman,” a carving by Darryl Saffer.

Last posting featured Darryl’s “Lament.” He tells me he fought with the wood at every turn, and finally wrestled it into submission for the final carving. For this one, which I see as “Emerging Woman,” he tells me that she spoke to him, and she told him what to do with the tools. I like that.

This is the way I will go forward. No more lament, but emerging woman!