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Pres Debate #2 (2b)

October 12, 2016

On page (1a) I focused on the archetypal intelligence at work in conversation, story, and image; and I suggested that the “town hall” format promoted those forms of expression and communication. Well, such had been the case in past town halls. What happened this time?

Following conventional best practice, Hillary stood before the guest who had the question; and the first time, she engaged that person directly by asking if she were a teacher (relevant to the Q). H also addressed the guest personally at least two other times. Trump didn’t do that. Instead he postured for the camera, scowling for his base, communicating one message: the proper attitude and action toward this person (b word) is moral and political annihilation. Early in the debate he said 3 times that she should be ashamed, i.e. that she is shameful (shame-filled, which I see as an existential denial of requisite worth for right to exist). His major gesture, furthermore, was to jab his finger at her, while he verbally attacked “her” and “you”—not the “Secretary Clinton” of the first debate.

So, there wasn’t likely to be much conversation, from the point of view of T. There was only likely to be confrontation and attempt to dominate (H did not play that game).

T’s voice tone did communicate strongly, however, especially when he proclaimed, pityingly (as it sounded to me), that H is “so filled with hate.” That seemed to surprise even H; but she has been targeted by so many males who hate her, and hate women in general, that she took it in stride. Again, not an opportunity for conversation (unless by 4-yr-olds—even T’s “conversing” with the moderators was quarrelsome and blaming).

I think both candidates succeeded in producing a genuine “image,” a concrete detail that takes on holistic resonance beyond detail, coming directly from the subconscious and speaking instantaneously to the subconscious. T’s was the one central image of his campaign—and apparently of his being—himself, the alpha male warrior, first sergeant, godlike, glowering down upon us with the fire of inner rage, which he pretends is moral outrage.

H produced hers at the very end, when, in the context of fundamental human respect, the basis of any conversation between persons and politicians who rise above themselves into the general good, she harked back to the concern of the first question that she had answered, and expressed her appreciation of her opponent’s children.

I suspect that that first question had instantaneously activated one of her deeply authentic responses to life, somehow an essential archetypal pattern of her imagination, that she has brought to consciousness with actions, from the beginning of her career.

It was difficult, politically, and no doubt personally, for T to acknowledge that H might be worthy of respect; and in fact he declined the opportunity to respond first. But now H had activated that deep pattern of his imagination of life, his heroic self, Herculean. His spontaneous response to Hillary’s image of (his) beautiful and competent children clearly was personal pleasure at the compliment to himself. Yet he did not respond with a reciprocal gesture of good will. Again he blocked conversation, by casting aspersions on whether H had actually intended to be complimentary, thereby again belittling her (after all, she has so much hate in her heart, how could she be magnanimous and kind?).

Still he had, somehow, to show respect for her, so he praised her for a quality that he had pointed up about himself, when it was thought that he might quit the race (or at least the series of debates): she doesn’t quit. And of course his image was that she’s a fighter. She’s a worthy opponent (he came perilously close to saying that she is not “weak”).

I think that T’s pervasive, low, attack mode (like a junkyard dog), and the concomitant need for H to be constantly on guard, constantly attending to what he was saying about her, even to where he was!, also inhibited the kind of spontaneously creative brain activity that naturally produces the poetics of story.

Story requires a teller of the tale, and an attentive listener. It takes its time (unless it’s a battlefield report, as in Athens after Thermopylae) and it takes time. It engages the aesthetic imagination (even when it is imagining facts) more slowly. It sits and spins. As Forster described it, there’s an “and then?..and then?” process that is one of our deepest pleasures. Or as Freud said about humor, we build a pool of energy, knowing that we will be rewarded with its release. “Did you hear the one about..? So, a Republican, a Democrat, and a Rabbi enter a bar…. Once upon a time…. Es war einmal ein Kôenig…. Come gather ‘round me, children, a story I will tell….

We move into a shadowland where fact is fiction and fiction is true.

H made one attempt, about the adopted child, from Ethiopia, asking his mother about T.

But all in all, the amygdala was kept too active. We couldn’t even get a “pregnant” moment such as Obama’s “Continue, Governor,” that crystallized his presence as a very presidential, sitting President.

With his attack strategy, and diversionary tactics, T also succeeded in preventing H from achieving what I thought (in 1b) could be a very important outcome, the evocation of a beautiful and healing, national, social and political vision. I thought she had that in mind, and tried. As a subtle example of his tactic, although it was not about her domestic vision: when she had done an excellent job, after T’s moronic fantasy of a sneak attack on Mosul, of explaining a coherent, knowledgeable strategy for defeating ISIS, T immediately called attention back to himself by complaining about his being treated unfairly by the moderators.

So T was all fire and wind, trying to create a towering inferno to engulf H in. She could not bring forth enough earth of personal contact, or water of civility, to put that fire out. But nor was she consumed by it. To my mind, her respect for children in the last moments was like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes of the evening.

Why does this matter? Because Trump effectively blocked our common, soulful humanity from verbally (“remember, it’s all just words,” he said, “she just talks”) rising out of our shared unconscious, out of old night, into a mild and sunny, new day.

Where, too, we can share our practice of breathing in the universe.

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  1. Pres Debate #2 (1a) | tomkoontz

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