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Sun Mar 31, 2019, 06:40 PM

Richard North Patterson: I Used to Write Novels. Then Trump Rendered Fiction Redundant.

I Used to Write Novels. Then Trump Rendered Fiction Redundant.

The president is a fiction writer run amok, the hero of his own impermeable drama.
6:00 AM ET
Richard North Patterson
Author of more than 20 novels

snip//

I’ve written several psychological novels. Unavoidably, I view Trump in psychological terms, as a character whose inner life dictates his actions, often for the worse. Others have been more circumspect. Many psychiatrists cite their profession’s “Goldwater Rule,” which bars them from diagnosing individuals they haven’t examined in person—including presidential candidates. Most journalists argue that objectivity requires them to report statements and behaviors as they occur, leaving readers to reach their own conclusions about the source of Trump’s solipsism.

No doubt their professional scruples are, in themselves, admirable. But by putting Trump in the usual analytic boxes—populist, businessman, exemplar of reality TV—most commentators have missed what is truly distinctive and dangerous about Trump. In fiction and in life, there is no question one person can ask about others more important than why they behave as they do, and how this prefigures how they’ll behave in the future. The media’s acquiescence in Trump’s fantasies—parsing his positions, pontificating about his strategy, and marveling at his intuition—has turned Trump’s inability to distinguish fiction from reality into a form of political genius.

snip//

To me, Donald Trump was more than the prototypical protagonist of a psychological novel—he was a fiction writer run amok, the hero of his own impermeable drama, resentful of editors who would prune his imaginings. He feels little need to heed advice, or to learn anything much from anyone. Most of what he says is provisional, ever subject to change, and based on nothing but his transient and subjective needs.

But the crucial difference between Trump and a novelist is that his fancies are not confined to the page, and Americans can’t put them back on the shelf.


snip//

For millions of Trump’s followers, this fantasy world is too pretty to relinquish. Relentlessly, Trump has induced the sine qua non for any successful novelist: the willing—indeed, willful—suspension of disbelief. On some level, Trump’s followers know that he is lying, and choose not to care. For them, his false narrative is so emotionally enveloping that it sublimates truth to what Coleridge called “poetic faith.”

He engenders this enthrallment by a classic fictional device: pitting himself, as the protagonist, against an imaginary world filled with pitfalls and peopled by antagonists who evoke fear, hatred, and contempt—the deep state, the media, Muslims, immigrants, minorities, freeloading Europeans—as well as fictionalized versions of real people such as Robert Mueller. In turn, Trump’s blustery pretense of intuitive expertise on subjects as varied as climate change, trade, counterterrorism, and geopolitics licenses the angry and insecure to spurn the expertise of a despised elite, whether they be economists, globalists, environmental scientists, in favor of bogus nostrums that corroborate what they wish to believe. By governing through seductive fictions, Trump has substituted fancy for objective fact as a basis for political discourse.


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https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/richard-north-patterson-i-quit-novels-cover-trump/585901/

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Reply Richard North Patterson: I Used to Write Novels. Then Trump Rendered Fiction Redundant. (Original post)
babylonsister Mar 2019 OP
nolabear Mar 2019 #1
PandoraAwakened Mar 2019 #2

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun Mar 31, 2019, 06:50 PM

1. I could not have said it better myself. And we're susceptible

We have to be so careful not to want a hero too, some magical being who can solve things rather than lead US to solve them. To help one another by sacrifice and fighting for equality and striving for one another. We don’t need a new sheriff. We need a Democrat and we need to support her or him.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun Mar 31, 2019, 07:29 PM

2. In other words, Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What Patterson so eloquently describes is the relationship between every cult leader and his followers who have ever existed.

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