Rebecca Solnit on how Trump's quest for more adulation made him "the most mocked man in the world"

Originally published at:


Fabulous. Solnit’s final paragraph sums it up, hidden in case you want the full effect:

“The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.”

Let us hope.


This essay is … transcendent. It is everything and all and now and beyond. I’ve only read it once, but I need to read again to truly unpack and appreciate.


Before i read it and am (i predict) speechless, i just have to interject that i can’t help but read the url of the website, Literary Hub, as lith-hub, i.e. Lithium Hub. A bit disturbing for a moment.


That’s worth some Trumpplause right there


The sad and scary part of her essay (and that quote) is here:

One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him.

The tragically frustrating part is that, unlike the fisherman’s wife of the story, Trump will probably die before he realizes what a fool he has become, or see the damage to democratic society that will be his legacy. He may go down in history as the most inept President ever, but it will be us who live with the consequences of his reign.


It’s a pretty sad commentary when he makes Dubya seem like a brilliant orator and contemplative tactician…


Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion.

This is one of the things that worries me about the growing inequality in my wider community (i.e., my country). We have a reputation for openness, friendliness, and an overall very low level of corruption - usually bested only by one or two of the Scandinavian countries. But I’m coming around to the position that that is because traditionally we have had low levels of inequality, and genuine social mobility within that. However, all that seems to be coming to an end. Inequality is rapidly rising, the traditional metrics of success - such as purchasing a house - are increasingly out of reach, and education too has become a luxury over the last couple of decades, reducing its role as a mechanism for advancement.

So, with the traditional, legal, socially ‘good’ ways of getting ahead receding into the distance, I fear that lying, cheating, and corruption will become the best and most accessible way of improving ones lot in life.


“He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image”

Yeah, I wondered about that as I read it. Does he know? It could be he’s showing clinical signs of dementia (as some have theorized), or it could be that the farther you travel along that self-aggrandizing road the harder it becomes to see where you’re going or where you are. I imagine his subconscious working 24/7 to keep his mental state afloat lest he suffer a complete breakdown and collapse into a shivering, crying wreck or catatonic mute.

The issue here was never really Trump, the issue is the Americans who voted for him and still stand by him, and who will invent conspiracies about the “deep state” wrecking his Presidency, rather than see he’s doing it himself. If a well-informed and educated public is vital to a healthy democracy, then a poorly educated, willfully misinformed public guarantees the end of democracy.


I’d feel sorry for the asshole if he weren’t such a waste of human skin.

He must - on some level. He’s deflecting and projecting, blaming much of it on the media, but he knows damage is being done, even if he doesn’t entirely know why. That the press are suddenly treating him differently must make it easier to delude himself. He’s spent his life getting press, and may have believed it was sometimes “tough” before, but it was all in the context of the attention paid to a “colorful real estate guy” or “reality television personality” - i.e. the slight attention given to a clown. Now he’s being scrutinized as president and he’s still a clown but that’s inverted the nature of the press attention - the whiplash from that change in perspective has got to be shocking for him, given that he’s not smart or self-aware enough to understand it.


[…] He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image… One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall…

I have to disagree. If there’s one thing that Donald Trump has demonstrated that he does indeed excel at, it’s that he is constitutionally and preternaturally unable to know himself.


I do hope this gets the full press covfefe it deserves,


Day 131. And already his presidency is beautifully encapsulated and ended. Never has a president been so worthy of mockery, let alone intelligent response.


Arguably the only area where he shows good taste in friends…


Agreed 100%. Also fabulous, but depressing, but fabulous, is this subtle dig at partriarchy in Solnit’s short bio at the bottom:

She is a contributing editor to Harper’s, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column (founded in 1851).

So, that’s over a century and a half before they let a woman have this “Easy Chair” slot? Jesusina.


That really struck me, too. As the myth that named the disorder suggests, at the heart of any pathological narcissist there must be some deep-seated and subconscious self-destructive impulse – to keep testing and pushing and feeding one’s bottomless greed for attention and adulation until the only way to end the unsatiable longing is in a big dramatic Götterdämmerung where everyone suffers.

What worries me is these apocalypses often involve physical death and pain and that there are issues of scale and power surrounding this particular NPD person.


tRump is synonymous with road kill [see image] now, looks like his plan for MAGA is working out for him.

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from the essay, a real gem:

Some of us are surrounded by destructive people who tell us we’re worthless when we’re endlessly valuable, that we’re stupid when we’re smart, that we’re failing even when we succeed. But the opposite of people who drag you down isn’t people who build you up and butter you up. It’s equals who are generous but keep you accountable, true mirrors who reflect back who you are and what you are doing.

anyone who is in charge of anything would do well to reflect on this before each exercise of power



This is what needs fixing if we are not to live out our days in the decline and fall of ‘western civilisation’ ("a good idea"TM Gandhi)

But where to start? Attacking education as the right does, achieves their aims. It needs the non-right to gain power to fix - a Catch-22.


Yeah, I agree. I didn’t mean to include that sentence when I said we can hope! Let’s instead hope he can be taken down without too much damage. :worried: