“The Dude” on Trump’s “Unpredictability”
I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here. But I’m rooting for the guy, Mr. Trump. One of the things that’s most appealing about him is his unpredictability. — Jeff Bridges, a.k.a. “The Dude“
I imagine Trump’s “unpredictability” attracted a lot of people who were simply bored with existence. I have, on occasion, read similar sentiments expressed as reasons for supporting Trump — his unpredictability. But I find this statement by Mr. Bridges very peculiar indeed. If the touring schedule for his band became unpredictable, or whether or not his band would be paid became uncertain and unpredictable, how would Mr. Bridges feel about “unpredictability” then? Presumably, he would call it “chaos”. Isn’t this an example of a restriction of foresight, of insight, and of a myopia that has become far too widespread?
Let’s point out a few contradictions in Mr. Bridge’s statement and their wider implications.
Constitutional states, and those governed by the rule of law, seek to inject a fairly high degree of predictability and reliability into social relations. That’s what constitutions do. That’s what the law of contracts does also. Even monasteries, Buddhist or Christian or otherwise, are governed by a “Rule”. It’s precisely authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that are least predictable because the power of law is invested in the mere arbitrary whims and will of the leader or autocrat. This will and whim may change constantly and unpredictably. So autocratic states, although ostensibly about “law & order” are actually implicitly chaotic, for which reason they eventually self-destruct.
Too much unpredictability leads to the same place as too little predictability. A certain degree of predictability, or what we call “stability”, is necessary to even take a walk, drive a car, meet other people, do your shopping, or work together, or to cooperate on some social task, or even speak, while too much unpredictability, uncertainty, and insecurity would truly be chaos at every level. Everything and everyone would become unreliable, untrustworthy, suspect, and so on. This is always what happens in autocratic states, and definitely in “post-truth society”.
It’s a bizarre situation, indeed, when conservatives applaud “unpredictability” isn’t it? It’s self-contradiction. Predictability is closely related to intelligibility, and in “post-truth” or “post-rational” society we are witnessing a lot less of both. This is self-negation. At least Mr. Bridges is aware of his self-contradictions.
Spontaneity itself requires an intelligible and predictable framework for its manifestation. It’s the function of the enlightened ego-consciousness to provide that pattern of intelligibility. Unpredictability brings disorientation of the ego-identity — the loss of horizons until such time as new horizons are constituted and established, and a new centre therefore is established. Much of what is wearisomely dismissed as mere “political correctness” is indeed throwing the baby out with the bathwater because the antipathy to “political correctness” is coming to embrace everything that was indeed predictable about social relations — what we call “common decency” or the rituals of civility. An insistence upon sincerity or truthfulness has, it seems, also become dismissed as mere “political correctness”.
Mr. Bridges is at least aware of the duplicity and hypocrisy (and nihilism) as elements of this “unpredictablity”, but seems resigned to it. He’s become an exemplar of the “New Normal” and of “post-truth” in that respect also. That’s what makes his statement kind of interesting. While he seems conscious of the double-dealing, the double-talk, the double-standards and the double-think, he otherwise shows very little insight into it, or foresight as to the implications of it. “Unpredictability” as Mr. Bridges thinks of it, is just another term for cynicism and nihilism in this context.
But then, on the other hand, Mr. Bridges may know exactly what he is doing — celebrating the post-modern deconstruction as chaotic transition. But I doubt it, even if he works to effect it in other ways. As Milton once put it: “they also serve who only stand and wait”.
It would be interesting to know why Mr Bridges values unpredictability, especially when it comes to truthfulness or keeping promises and pledges.