Candidate Trump and the New Normal

As y0u know, I’m a collector of references to “the new normal”. Some people collect butterflies, some people collect stamps, some people collect coins, I collect references to the “new normal”. Whenever I read a reference to “the new normal”, I get as giddy as an entomologist who has discovered a new species of insect.

If you followed my earlier postings on the new normal, you will also know that I consider it a clear indicator to Gebser’s anticipated disintegration of the mental-rational consciousness and personality structure of Late Modern Man — the normalisation of what is, actually, a very abnormal and aberrant situation. I won’t review the developmental history of the new normal again, but only point out that one of its characteristics is the normalisation of duplicity in all its forms — what I’ve called our “four riders of the apocalypse” as Double-Think, Double-Talk, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind. These are the symptoms of that disintegration. And another way of talking about the “new normal” is in terms of the eruption of chaotic emotion.

Candidate Trump is the candidate of the new normal, and as such the candidate of chaotic emotion.

While the chief objective symptoms of the breakdown of the mental-rational consciousness are, as I’ve stated, the proliferation of unintended consequence, perverse outcome, revenge effect, ironic reversal, and blowback (basically, all the same issue of enantiodromia). These are the classical symptoms of hybris follwed by Nemesis. But what we call “chaotic transition” (or Peter Pogany’s “havoc”) is very much more an issue of chaotic emotion. That is to be anticipated as the chief subjective symptom of the increasing “deficiency” of the mental-rational or perspectival consciousness.

It is fortuitous, in that respect, that Nature published a research article recently that clearly showed the role of subjective states of emotion or feeling in the nurturance or sustainability of ecosystems. By extension, this also applies to social organisation and order. It’s an appropriate segue to this discussion of Trump, the “new normal”, and chaotic emotion.

Everyone, it seems, is quite baffled and perplexed by the success of Trump’s campaign — it’s muddle-headedness, it’s lack of any intelligible or articulate social policy or ideology. “A cauldron of the baser instincts of humanity” as Guardian journalist Dave Schilling referred to it. But apart from its core faith in the potency of competitive egoism (getting “greedy for America” and that grabbing is winning) it’s really quite futile to look for anything like a coherent ideology in Trump’s campaign. There are no ideas and no reason because Trump is the candidate of chaotic emotion. Chaotic emotion is chaotic because it has no guidance provided by the faculty of reason, or “the enlightened ego consciousness”. More to the point, since the “end of the Grand Narrative”, there is no coherent mythos to provide constructive guidance to emotion.

The evident inarticulacy and incoherence of the statements of Trump’s supporters (and I’ve read quite a few head-scratchers) are not unintelligible as expressions of chaotic emotion, so that “fun and exciting” is all tangled up with fear, anxiety, paranoia, insecurity, hatred and resentment and so on. I suppose you could say that, in Blakean terms, the Zoa Luvah (who is the passions) is at war with the Zoa Urizen (who is rationality).

Affective disorders, or chaotic emotions, is one of those consequences of Nietzsche’s “death of God” and his “two centuries of nihilism”, and until a new pattern is disclosed for the effective expression of the affective, this mad, mad world will continue on its course, “ambling towards the abyss” as Iain McGilchrist put it in The Master and his Emissary. Indeed, what we call “God”, even as “Universal Reason”, provides the pattern for the appropriate or inappropriate expression of the passions and affects, which was referred to as the “moral compass”.

Affective disorders are the world’s present insanity, and one can say that “chaotic transition” is an outward marker for this inner chaos of the affects. Even the words “effect” and “affect”, or effective and affective, are connected for an implicit reason.  Until there is a new mythos to provide the new pattern, the chaos of affects and effects will continue and likely become even more chaotic.


32 responses to “Candidate Trump and the New Normal”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    I probably should have added to the above that Blake’s formula for the good society: “The Arts and all things in Common” elevates the Arts of Poetry, Music, Painting, and Architecture to the role also of “sweet Science” precisely because the Arts given form and pattern to chaotic emotion. Therefore, it is to Art that we must look for our social recovery and in Blake’s mythology, God is not so much a Universal Rationalist or Clockmaker as an Artist. God as “Artist” is also Rosenstock-Huessy’s theme.

    • Sue says :

      This almost makes me cry. Sometimes I wonder – is it worth being able to envision that future, so you can taste it, but being forced to live in the craziness, the blindness, and this malfunctioning fucking body? It’s like a constant molasses trip, living in quicksand. I truly feel like climbing off the whole insanity today.

      Thanks for your writings. Much edification.

      • Scott Preston says :

        The most exciting thing about the present is to watch the “double-movement” unfolding. There are plenty of wonders to offset the more negative manifestations of the end of the Modern Era, even if the negatives get all the headlines, and so this downward trend becomes self-reinforcing. The negative manifestations tend to overshadow the positive and creative ones at present, but that will change.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Also, just moments ago, following this new posting, I received my regular newsletter from The Nation Institute, and the theme of the newsletter was actually “unintended consequence”. Very providential. I haven’t read it yet, but here’s the link to “The Disappointments of War in a World of Unintended Consequence”

    • abdulmonem says :

      As if we are moving toward the uncovering of the content of ourselves in both of its ugliness and beauty. When the code of the divine value is distorted,perverted and smashed, the face of ugliness unashamedly appears, and this is exactly what we are seeing, not only in the political arena but in all human affairs including the environment. This ugliness is a drive toward beauty. The purpose of polarity ever since the beginning. The balance vision,not in term of the I but in term of the other. The destruction,disruption, dislocation and death imposed on others. The landscape of the larger middle east bears witness. As the parable says what we to others we will eventually do to ourselves. Nothing gets lost in this well-designed cosmos. Some time I ask myself what is the purpose of knowing,if not to get wise and respect the code of the divine value to whom we all shall return.

      • abdulmonem says :

        I think we need to look to the human carnivores that have caused and still causing all types of trophic cascades.

  3. edlevin2015 says :

    Until there is a new mythos to provide the new pattern, the chaos of affects and effects will continue and likely become even more chaotic.

    One of the two commercially released audiobooks that I read for before my neuromuscular condition took my speech function was called “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama”.
    “Destructive emotions” is one common translation of the Buddhist term “kleshas”. Others are afflictions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, etc.

    It turns out the whole of Buddhist practice is often framed as eliminating the kleshas. If Buddhism continues to build on the current pervasiveness of the mindfulness movement, it might eventually make Toynbee’s famous prediction relevant to your post about affective disorders. In J.J. Clarke’s “Oriental Enlightenment”, on page 107, he says:

    In his book ‘Civilization on Trial’ [Toynbee] asked: ‘What will be singled out as the salient event of our time by future historians, centuries hence, looking back on the first half of the twentieth century?’ Not, he replied, the ‘sensational or tragic or catastrophic political and economic events’, but rather the impact of West on East and of East on West leading to the end of age old ‘parochial’ distinctions between the civilizations of East and West and the emergence of a world community, a resolution that will be seen to be the product not of economic forces but of religious convergence (Toynbee 1948: 213).

    As it says in the Wikipedia article “Kleshas”:

    All Buddhist schools teach that through Tranquility (Samatha) meditation the kilesas are pacified, though not eradicated, and through Insight (Vipassana) the true nature of the kilesas and the mind itself is understood. When the empty nature of the Self and the Mind is fully understood, there is no longer a root for the disturbing emotions to be attached to, and the disturbing emotions lose their power to distract the mind.

    • Scott Preston says :

      That might make an interesting book to follow up on. Thanks for the reference.

      I’m afraid that the pain of the affective disorders will probably have to become much more painful yet before people stop looking to politicians to resolve it form them or to act as a catalyst for a catharsis. Until they realise the connection between the inner and outer events, that is.

      Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

  4. LittleBigMan says :

    Politically speaking, it seems to me that “Chaotic emotion,” erupts when there have been ongoing abuses of power for a long time, while cries to fix a problem have fallen on deaf ears.

    My candidate, Elizabeth Warren, isn’t running. But I like the fact that Trump says what he means, or does he? I don’t know for sure. I admire the fact that Trump is less concerned about being politically correct.

    The organization I’m working for is being reviewed/audited by a pseudo-governmental agency. If I had tried to be politically correct and hide my emotions in the years past, today, this organization would be in deep doo-doo for having been complicit while knowing that there were problems in certain areas.

    But thankfully the issues were addressed in good time, and today the organization can show that it has acted responsibly. Really, there’s so much corruption in most organizations today (including the U.S. government) that it’s impossible to set things straight without causing some chaos.

    In a country as thoughtfully organized and mapped as the United States, causing chaos within a structured framework can lead to outcomes that lead to stopping the abuses of power, irrespective of the bruising battles that might take place in the process.

    But in all those willy-nilly governments that are out there outside of the United States, chaos will just bring more chaos.

    So, some good might actually come out of the chaos that Trump is causing with his unfiltered remarks; methinks.

    • Sue says :

      Trickster Trump.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        That remains to be seen if he ever gets elected. In my mind, he would be a trickster if he doesn’t deliver on what he says (e.g. stop illegal immigration, stop and reverse corporate inversion, disregard quotas for refugees arriving in the U.S. from areas ravaged or ruled by ISIS and instead screen them very carefully before entry, etc.).

        In my view, something that no one is talking about (not even Trump), but they should, is abandoning the lottery-based admittance of new immigrants to the U.S.

        A lot of no good (but lucky) characters get to come to the U.S. simply because their names pop up in the lottery. I don’t remember the exact number, but I think 50,000 get to come to the U.S. this way. Every prospective immigrant should be considered individually and carefully.

  5. dadaharm says :


    The rise of Trump is fascinating. He does expose the weakness, corruption and hypocrisy of the establishment. However, I do not expect that he will replace the current establishment by something better. In fact, I fear that he will take the so-called new normal to a new and higher level.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Trump has momentum, to be sure, because he’s riding a wave of reactionary nostalgia that is pretty much global — nativists in Europe and America or Islamists in the Middle East and Africa share this same reactionary mood, which is presently the assertive pole of the double-movement.

      You see this reactionary nostalgia in Trump’s demographics (overwhelmingly an older generation), while Sanders is overwhelmingly a younger generation. It’s a contest between past and future. Clinton the “realist”, the candidate of the status quo, is practically irrelevant here.

      Forests and trees, trees and forests: forest ecology very much resembles society, old growth inhibits new growth, deprives new growth of its “day in the Sun”. Sanders attracts those who are afraid of their future being invaded and overrun by the past. It’s pretty clear that the Trump and Sanders camps are looking into two different directions of time. What is polarising is time. The young, however, have the longest legs in this race. As the rule goes, “the stone that the builders rejected” will, in time, become the keystone of the new edifice, just as the Hermetic Philosophy that the Architects of the Modern Era rejected is now fast becoming the keystone of the New Era at the end of the Modern Era.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        I honestly don’t know if Trump’s and Sanders’ demographics fall along those exact generational lines. I think there’s quite of a mix there (the funniest thing was when I saw some guy wearing a Hillary T-shirt at a Trump rally 🙂 )

        I do think and see and hear that a lot of college-aged adults are routing for Sanders. I could live with either Sanders or Trump getting elected.

        A nightmare would be if Hillary got elected, which is still a possibility. It will be just as bad as getting Bush junior twice. Ouch!

        It’s enlightening to see you place Sanders and Trump along the horizontal axis of the cross of reality. I agree that’s where their rhetoric lies; but how about their hearts and minds? I think we’ll have to wait and see. But, disingenuous individuals usually don’t talk like Trump (which is not trying to be politically correct and call it like he sees it).

        Of course, I may be in for a sucker punch.

        • Scott Preston says :

          This just appeared in my inbox after I posted my reply to David below – I think it answers the question,

          • LittleBigMan says :

            These numbers are helpful to get a picture in mind. Although, I would be VERY interested to know from where these 1000 18-to-26-year-old individuals came from.

            I have a feeling that Billary will clinch the democratic nomination and Trump will clinch the Republican, and then Billary will go on to win. Of course, I hope I’m totally wrong.

            I mean, Billary’s son-in-law is an investment banker. What does that say about that family’s true moral compass? Given the family’s behavior in public, shouldn’t the son-in-law have been from Harlem? or Brooklyn? Or Little Rock?

            Love and sincerity have no meaning in that family. And if they cannot have that within their family, how can they have it in the public domain? Even Barbie dolls have more sincerity in them than Hillary.

          • davidm58 says :

            It is fascinating to read the original report by Frank Luntz about his poll.

            Click to access snapchat-generation-release.pdf

            Fascinating that this poll of Snapchat users aged 18-26 are very optimistic about the future; that they seem to overwhelmingly support left leaning candidates; that corruption, greed, and inequality are the biggest problems that we face; that 35% see themselves as world citizens rather than U.S. citizens; that 67% prefer socialism or communism over capitalism; that concern about the environment, climate change, and energy resources does not rank very high with them.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Yes. Usually I take polls with a grain of salt. But it seems to reflect what we might call “suburbanisation of consciousness”, too — perhaps a complete disconnect from nature. Only thing I can think of off hand to account for it.

            • Scott Preston says :

              A friend recommended I have a look at an article on the Millennials in Psychology Today, which I just did. Perhaps this has something to do with the “suburban mentality” of the millenials? This “personal fable” of “invincibility”?


            • davidm58 says :

              That Psychology Today article is especially relevant here because the Luntz poll, remember, was done through Snapchat, so there’s a heavy bias right there – these are young people steeped in social media, so the “heightened awareness we all have of our online presence due to social media” is accentuated in this sample.

              I believe another common trait in this group is an unwarranted high confidence that technology will solve all of our problems. The one thing i remember from James howard Kunstler’s TED talk from a number of years ago, was how he recounted a speaking engagement at Google headquarters where he spoke to them about the impending “Long Emergency.” The overwhelming response he got was “Dude, don’t worry. We’ve got technology.”

              This in turn reminds me of Google’s later announcement that they had to abandon the ambitious goal of attempting to make renewable energy cheaper than coal.

            • Scott Preston says :

              It may well be that their understanding of “socialism” isn’t much better — technocratic, state planning or state capitalism (or techno-Confucianism). It’s not clear. (I would tend to call that “socialism of the suburbs” too). I’ve noticed that in talking with people — you can’t assume by “socialism” or “democracy” or “nature” that you’re ever talking about the same thing. Even Goebbel’s could talk about fascism as “ideal democracy”.

            • abdulmonem says :

              I sometime wonder how could a sample of 1000 can be reliable in representing a population of 319 million, knowing the butterfly effects of the million and million of people that have been neglected, inaddition of the way the sample is selected.

  6. davidm58 says :

    Perhaps even more providential than the Tom Engelhardt article, John Michael Greer’s post today is on “The Decline and Fall of Hillary Clinton.” Very parallel to what is said here, only with a look at a different candidate, and referencing Spengler rather than Gebser.

    Some extended quotes below, but best to read the entire article.

    “…If anything, though, Hillary Clinton’s campaign offers an even clearer glimpse into the festering heart of the American political process. She did exactly the same things that Jeb did—it’s indicative that the two of them both splashed their first names across their equally banal campaign logos—and she also managed, as he never did, to get the apparatchiks of her party lined up solidly on her side before the campaigning season got under way. By the ordinary rules of US politics, she should have enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the primaries to the Democratic convention while Jeb Bush wrestled with his opponents, and then gone into the general election with plenty of money to spare, saturating the air waves with a deluge of advertisements designed to convince the American people that four years under her leadership would be ever so slightly less disastrous for them than four years under Bush.

    This time, though, the rules have changed. Clinton is facing a spirited challenge from party outsider Bernie Sanders, and though she’ll still probably get the nomination—it’s a source of wry amusement that just now, the Democratic Party’s nominating procedure is significantly less democratic than that of the GOP—it’s pretty clear at this point that she’s not going to get it without a fight. Once she does, in turn, instead of facing another bland insider in a tepid race to the center that can easily be clinched by an ad blitz or two, she’ll be up against Donald Trump, whose popularity soars with every petulant denunciation the pundits of the privileged classes fling at him, whose take-no-prisoners style of bare-knuckle campaigning is exactly the sort of challenge that neither Clinton nor her lumbering campaign staff have shown the least ability to handle, and who is prepared to offer the voters something other than the very slightly lesser of two evils…”

    “…Thus the reason that a large and growing number of ordinary working Americans are refusing to accept another rehash of the status quo this time around is that their backs are to the wall. That’s a situation that comes up reliably at a certain point in the history of every society, and it’s a source of wry amusement to me that Oswald Spengler predicted the situation currently facing the United States—and, mutatis mutandis, the rest of the industrialized world as well.

    Spengler’s historical analysis covers a vast amount of territory, but the point at issue here appears late in the second volume of The Decline of the West, where he sketches out the immediate future of what we call Western industrial civilization and he named the Faustian Culture. His theme was the way that democracies die. He argued that democracy suffers from a lethal vulnerability, which is that it has no meaningful defenses against the influence of money. Since most citizens are more interested in their own personal, short-term advantage than they are in the long-term destiny of their nation, democracy turns into a polite fiction for plutocracy just as soon as the rich figure out how to buy votes, a lesson that rarely takes them long to learn.

    The problem with plutocracy, in turn, is that it embodies the same fixation on short-term personal advantage that gives it its entry to power, since the only goals that guide the rich in their increasingly kleptocratic rule are immediate personal wealth and gratification. Despite the ravings of economists, furthermore, it simply isn’t true that what benefits the very rich automatically benefits the rest of society as well; quite the contrary, in the blind obsession with personal gain that drives the plutocratic system, the plutocrats generally lose track of the hard fact that too much profiteering can run the entire system into the ground A democracy in its terminal years thus devolves into a broken society from which only the narrowing circle of the privileged rich derive any tangible benefit. In due time, those excluded from that circle look elsewhere for leadership.

    The result is what Spengler calls Caesarism: the rise of charismatic leaders who discover that they can seize power by challenging the plutocrats, addressing the excluded majority, and offering the latter some hope that their lot will be improved. Now and then, the leaders who figure this out come from within the plutocracy itself;…”

    • Scott Preston says :

      I don’t know if Mr. Greer’s anticipation of a Trump victory is simply part of his morbid outlook or whether he looks forward to it. I agree completely that Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, and for a very large swath of the American electorate, the status quo is simply unacceptable. So, it is a watershed moment for the United States.

      The political appeal of a casino magnate is almost beyond belief. I suppose Trump embodies that hope of the average guy that he’s going to hit the jackpot big time. Trump is very likely to bring the same attitude to economic policy as he brings to his casino business, and usually what attends that is a flush of “magical thinking”. Casino economies and magical thinking go together like hand and glove.

      But maybe the Archdruid doesn’t mind “magical thinking”?

      • LittleBigMan says :

        “I suppose Trump embodies that hope of the average guy that he’s going to hit the jackpot big time.”

        LOL, Brilliant!! I do buy Lottery tickets, you know 🙂

      • davidm58 says :

        Moreso his “morbid outlook” than “looking forward” to Trump’s victory, for JMG. He wrote more about Trump here:

        And Greer the Archdruid does have a problem with “magical thinking” as it is popularly understood and practiced. He wrote a post on this in 2010.

        The Archdruid on Magical Thinking:

        “…This is why serious mages generally roll their eyes when somebody comes along and insists that we ought to be able to solve physical problems – for example, shortages of material substances – with what amounts to magic. This happens quite often; I can usually count on hearing from somebody every month or so who thinks that because I’ve written several books on magic, and serve as the presiding officer of a contemporary Druid order, I ought to agree with them that we can conjure some replacement for petroleum out of thin air, or in some other way produce a world much more comfortable than the one we’ve got, by some change in consciousness or other.

        They tend to be rather discomfited when I explain to them, as gently as possible, that they’ve made a very elementary mistake in magical theory. The technical term for it is confounding the planes; “the planes of existence,” an old axiom has it, “are discrete and not continuous” – which means in plain English that mind is mind, matter is matter, and making the transition from mind to matter is not an easy, much less an automatic, thing; it has to be done in specific ways, and with careful attention to the very real limits of the material world.

        Now this does not mean that magic is useless in the face of the predicament of the industrial world. The problem is that the changes in consciousness that would actually do some good are changes that next to nobody in the industrial world is willing to make: for example, a shift in priorities that deliberately embraces poverty, accepting a rich personal, intellectual, and social life as a substitute for, or even an improvement on, the material extravagance that the industrial nations currently offer their more favored inmates. That change in consciousness is certainly accessible to each and every one of us; human beings just like us have been making it for many thousands of years; but it requires a rare willingness to step outside of the approved habits and ideas of modern industrial cultures. Striking a rebellious pose and claiming originality is very fashionable these days; actually rejecting the conventional wisdom of our time, and thinking thoughts that conflict with those of one’s contemporaries, is less common now than it was in the supposedly conformist Fifties….”

        • Scott Preston says :

          The Hermetic Philosophers certainly did make a distinction between hermeticism and “magical thinking”, which is sometimes confused with it. The Hermeticists called those who actually believed in the literal or physical transmutation of lead into gold “Puffers”. “Puffers” is another term for “magical thinking”. Apparently, “puffers” referred to bellows used to heat the crucible — the technology. But in Hermticism “bellows” was symbolic of the lungs, and the element of air (“spiritus”). In other words, “puffers” were those who prinicipally sought power rather than wisdom, and who believed that conjuring gold from lead was literal. The old problem of confusing the letter for the spirit.

  7. alex jay says :

    As a point of observation on the demographics of the younger generation’s preferences, I find it fascinating that in the previous election cycle the youth were attacted to the aged no-holes-barred free market libertarian, Ron Paul only to be reversed in this election cycle by an aged socialist like Bernie Sanders???

    So what’s the common denominator other than young people seem to have a grandfather complex? : )

    Anyone but the “Queen of Chaos” ( book by Diane Johnson, I think or Johnston?) or Rubio, or Cruz (more dangerous than Trump if you want to avoid WWIII). Oops door bell …

  8. abdulmonem says :

    Is not magical consciousness is one of the five species of consciousness ?

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes it is. But it is only a mature form of consciousness when it functions in harmonious relation to the others, and not when it becomes a substitute for the mental-rational or perspectival. That’s when it becomes superstition.

  9. abdulmonem says :

    Thank to you Scott and to your friend for this sobering article on narcissim and invincibility. There is no invincibility in life, death is knocking on the human doors every second. It is again a question of perspective, a mode of attention. Let us not forget the divine call for the human, not to misplace his attention and intention. Igniting the faculty of remembrance is a must toward entering the realm of the integral consciousness of the ever present origin. Remembering the bond as Hassan Al-Basri said.

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