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Hearts of Gold / Hearts of Stone (2)

August 2, 2016

“The silences they had always allowed to occur comfortably and simply between them were complicated now by the recognition that there were concerns too grievous for talk. They came to speak to each other with a kind of gentle vigilance, surrounding their conversations with sensitive boundaries, but also with a deepening need to speak.”

Last night I started Wendell Berry’s A Place on Earth (a friend and I are reading it). That passage is about two fathers who are waiting, day after day, to hear something about their sons who are away to the war. Reading it tempered my anger at Trump, with its true beauty. “The holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination,” as Keats put it.

Really, the ugly truth about Trump has been right there all along, waiting for our conversation about it, first in silence, then in the needed words.

Trump knows neither silence nor the needed words. For conversation about our grievous concerns, for our democracy that Capt. Humayun Khan honored with his life, Trump can only substitute bullying and violent images, braggadocio, fantastic stories of himself, and fear. His method is to terrorize his opponents (and all are his opponents) into paralysis. He projects his dread of impotence upon grand structures, and belittles anyone who might appear somehow bigger than he. He quickly identifies the person who, he thinks, is the most vulnerable, attacking what he perceives to be that person’s weakness. He sees a woman. He sees every weakness that he must cast out of himself.

In a speech, the other day, Hillary Clinton remarked that it seems as though, in Trump, “there’s something missing.” One thing is a capacity for conversation, in which two persons see themselves in each other, in their shared fragility before their common fate.

Oh, Trump, can’t you, please, be silent.

[Update, minutes later:  Okay, I’m speechless, except to say that everybody had better vote.  We’re up against the wall of ordinary, modest ignorance and foolishness, plus some kind of complete failure of perspective.]

[Page one of this episode.]

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