I think history will look on the admission by one of Trump’s courtiers that his junta is reliant on ‘alternative facts’ as the point where he and his ilk lost the war. Weirdos of my vintage will have been here once before, of course: but when Master of the Dark Arts Karl Rove let the cat out of the bag about the dark sorceries in which his lot were fluent, he waited until the eve of Bush the Younger’s second term. Trump is barely a week into his clusterfuck of an interregnum and already his underlings are letting the marks in on the act for a slice of the action.
But the thing about letting people in on the act is it only works properly if you’re already a genius. Are you Penn and Teller? Are you Stewart Lee? If not, you may want to spend some time learning how to write a story before you start breaking the mould, before you start going full Gonzo. Because if you let people know that your story’s just a story, before giving them a chance to decide if they’re interested? They’re liable to think you’re just taking the piss.
It’s to be expected, I suppose. These are people almost comedically lacking in subtlety. And that presents a problem, because what they’re blundering about with happens to be one of the subtlest and oldest human technologies, and one which really ought to be handled with care. Reacquainting myself with the weirder side of my past in the wake of last year’s spectacular tilt into total irreason led me to finding out that one of my favourite authors of Weird Shit, Lionel Snell (aka Ramsey Dukes), is on YouTube now with, among other things, a consideration of the nice distinction between sloganeering demagogues and actual magicians:
I can’t help but think there’s also an inkling, here, of why the twin monsters of Trumpism and Brexit have proved so resistant to purely factual refutation. Theirs is a malignancy at a level much deeper than fact, and it must be fought at that level. Fortunately, the good news is that not only can we fight them at that level, that level is our home ground anyway. Because if there’s one thing I can guarantee you, then it’s this – we can make our alternative facts way more interesting than theirs.
‘Alternative facts?’ ‘Meme magic?’ Yeah. Sure:
…but let me tell you another.