There are a set number of ways that a deck of cards can be dealt out. As you see the cards being dealt, you’re in fact watching possibilities being destroyed and inevitabilities arising. What exactly those inevitabilities are, depends upon the cards that you have just witnessed being dealt.
The deck as a whole could be considered to be a sort of complete whole — composed of 4 Kings, 4 Queens, 4 Jacks, 4 Aces, etc.; one of each possible suite — that collectively represents the overall possibilities, and also the terms at which events will unfold.
Traditional so-called mythological stories can be understood in a similar way — giving the culture that remembers and retells them a way of organizing the experience of what can be understood as being “separate” and “distinct” from other “separate” figures and forces acting in a story, by whatever parameters or values that a culture holds to be important. It provides a framework to understand the inevitabilities that arise from holding to a specific (whether an identity, collective identity, belief, course of actions, etc.).
With that in mind, and in that sense, a poker table and the sphere of politics have a lot in common — they both promise the possibility of winning everything and also of utter destruction. Amongst genuine gamblers, it’s often hard to tell which possible outcome it is that draws them in more. Either way, though, the promise is one of genuine change — one way or another.
Within the framework of mythology, whenever there are bright lights everywhere you look, whenever everything is perfect, absolute, going just the way that someone wants it to, etc., then you know the trickster is right around the corner — because he has now had a free hand of things, operating in the shadows that supposedly don’t or no longer exist.
Any time a utopia is being promised, in other words, then you know the trickster is riding shotgun and everyone is simply pretending that they aren’t aware of that.
The plans of the world are inevitably flawed in some way; carry with them necessary blindspots; trigger unforeseen blowback; or are responsible for externalities that aren’t initially comprehended. It’s those spaces that the trickster operates freely in — requiring that the world not be reduced to a static “truth” but to retain a living flexibility and ambiguity.
The Trickster is the part of existence that doesn’t fit neatly into static reality then, it could be said. It’s the inevitabilities baked in from the start that are bound to bring something down, to undo it, to trigger a fall.
It thrives on comfort-induced inattention and vanity-induced unawareness, and has essentially a free hand in those who refuse to ever question their motives, assumptions, and beliefs.
It’s the “return of the repressed” — the reality that anything that’s disowned in “one’s self” will inevitably find a way to the surface one way or another, and explosively so.
Seen from this lens, “The Donald As President” is an unsurprising thing — he indeed makes for a good representation of the shadow of America. Even those in the US who hate him can recognize “America” in his actions and behavior, even if they might not like to admit so. That’s probably why his election was so disturbing to so many people: he was laying it all out in the open there.
In the case of the US ,”the return of the repressed” could relate to quite a number of different topics — as there is a vast amount of denial and delusion in the country, helped along by nearly a century now of the title “leader of the free world.” (A strange double-speak sort of statement, to say the least.)
The actual early history of the country, and of the land, for instance, is something that those in the US (and in Canada for that matter) seem to be profoundly ignorant of — and often proudly ignorant of, at that. And what comes from this sort of ignorance? And from a generalized ignorance of actual human history as well? And from a willful ignorance of climatic and geological history?
To use Carl Jung’s perhaps too often referenced 1936 essay “Wotan” as a starting point: towards the release of previously contained and repressed demons (or archetypes to use Jung’s phrase). Despite being written in 1936, Jung pretty much nailed down everything that was occurring and would occur (in a very generalized sense) in Central Europe over the next decade — referencing the resurfacing of the “Germanic” archetype of “Wotan/Woden/Odin” in the collective consciousness of the region. The return of the buried and seemingly dead.
While the figure of the shape-shifter “Loki” is in Germanic mythology generally understood to be “the” trickster figure, such labels are arbitrary — whatever is repressed or “non-existent” at the time plays the part. And it could be said, by some accounting anyways, that Wotan and Loki are different aspects of the same figure.
The modern US is of course not 1930s Germany, though — so what is it?
To hear the popular and highly critical “The Monkey Trial” reporter/writer H.L. Mencken tell it, the US has always been just a random collection of scam-artists, wannabe bigwigs, suckers, and jackals*.
That taken into account, the whirlwind here will probably land the country in quite a different place to the one in Central Europe circa the 1930s — rather than being sacrificed for reasons that you don’t understand by a god who’s motives are enthralling but never truly clear, while in the haze of racial/tribal mysticism, what Americans likely have in store is simply: “Bankruptcy!” of various kinds — moral, individual, ecological, religious — following directly from the con-artistry, money grubbing, and resource looting, that this country has always been fairly well known for (even if never spoken of in polite company)**.
Destitution and then death in the gutter — “because you wouldn’t be living on the street if you weren’t lazy and didn’t deserve it” — seems likely to follow.
But then America has always had a thing for hobo camps and tent cities, so perhaps they pose a possibility, rather than death as a broken-into-pieces collection of panhandlers on the global streets?
With the American obsession with the “rags to riches” story template being the driver for so much stupidity and resource looting over the last few centuries, perhaps it’s now a necessity for a “riches to rags” story to play out collectively?
A pretty picture, eh? I suppose to the neighbors of the US, though, such a scenario doesn’t sound all that bad, as it means that the country may well simply implode rather than explode.
* In several previous articles, I have referenced the con artist label our current president has easily picked up from critics for decades. It’s the height of irony to me that poor, religious, rural voters are largely the ones who have supported this potential billionaire from Queens, New York, who lives in luxury hotels plated with fake gold, is on his third wife, and has bragged about sexually assaulting women and committing adultery. I have referenced in some cases the American history of con men and falling for con men when reflecting on this — and the “softer” misleading nature of the boisterous salesmen who also represent the United States so well. Here are a few related articles on these topics and our current president:
** I would also note that while we may see Donald Trump as unique, especially due to the obvious nepotism and dictator-like private wealth enrichment he is purposely gaining from his role in the White House, such anti-democratic, anti-American robbery has been something we have probably always had to some degree or another in politics. It is apparently human nature to try to serve yourself at the expense of broader society, and certainly part of the individualism of the United States, and it is rather hard to only elect politicians who are focused intently on trying to serve the greater good. That is not to say we should give up on democracy and politics, but it is yet another reminder that we should be vigilant, should try to elect people who are genuinely trying to work for the greater good of society, and should work harder to keep documented con men out of politics. Of course, in the broader context of this story, such politicians and political motives (even of great politicians) are always hiding in the shadows.
Originally published on Planetsave.
Top image: Divine Gloom by Oleg Korolev