The Marauder’s Map

Itcanstockphoto3397850‘s 2am and I’m wide awake, as I have been many mornings in the last week. There is no end in sight to the destruction of the country I thought I knew. Moves are being taken in every quarter to quash protests, disenfranchise voters, eliminate safety nets, knock the legs out from under air and water safety, gift power to the already empowered. The baby, the bath water and any ethics are right out the window. The Doomsday Clock will likely click one minute closer to midnight.

I keep thinking about history. And how nearly every move being made by the Trump administration is out of the authoritarian playbook. Even on the state level, legislators are taking their cues, ramming through bills to ensure that power stays with them. The people who talk about small government and self-reliance are delighted that Big Daddy is going to save them and stomp on anyone who dissents. A man with a personality disorder, someone who can be flattered into giving unqualified and malevolent people an immense amount of power, is in charge.

I’ve been struggling to get back to novel rewrites. It hasn’t felt important or useful to spend my time there. Instead, I wade through one news article after another. For all the rallying cries, I’m torn between the despair of nihilism and the burning frustration of impotency. This is also not useful and certainly deleterious to me.

Sometimes, when I’m having trouble sleeping, I put on a Harry Potter audio book. Jim Dale is a soothing narrator. On the surface, Harry Potter seems a simple child’s tale of good versus evil, except that the good people aren’t always good and the bad people aren’t always bad. And all along the way, no matter what laws and rules are put into place, subversion happens. Sometimes it’s small bits of sassiness and other times it is downright anarchy. But no matter how many rules are put in place, no matter what destructive forces roam the hallways, the students find a way to dissent. And this is a hopeful message.

canstockphoto19169321I’m feeling pretty powerless and afraid for the future, especially for my daughter. The flurry of robber baron malfeasance is overwhelming and in truth, there is nothing, much to the delight of the angry mob, that I can do about it. I voted. I paid attention. I gave a damn. But it did nothing except get me characterized as a snowflake, an elitist, a lazy liberal living off the government teat, and urban (used as an insult). A woman who wouldn’t even get rated a 4, because my nubility ended about 30 years ago. In the scheme of things, I am nothing and no one, powerless, not wealthy, not influential.

When I think about the dissident, camp, and protest literature I’ve read over the years, I am reminded of the power of the story. And the importance of telling it. A lot of nobodies painted, wrote, invented, composed music, even through the worst of times. And the worst of times is yet to come, I believe. It takes a little time for the ball of shit to gain momentum and size, as it rolls down the hill towards us. Everything that seems like hyperbole and anxiety today will be the norm tomorrow. History tells us this will not end well.

canstockphoto17352389How far it will go, no one really knows. The angry mob will likely crush many of us. People arrested, businesses destroyed and jobs lost, committees designed to suss out dissidents. Neighbors will turn each other in. Troops will come down our streets to round up the next targeted group. Revolts will rise and fall and take its casualties. It seems unthinkable, but authoritarian rulers, no matter where they are in place or time, are terrible in all the same ways and exploit the population’s fears and anxieties in such a way that the snake eats itself.

In an age when the common good sounds like a quaint, old-fashioned idea and the Ministry of Alternative Facts is dominating the news, it’s hard to know what to do with all this anxiety. The anger reignites itself daily. And we keep getting admonished to grow up, get over it, it’s not so bad…and we bargain with ourselves. Some of us are still detoxing from the campaign. Some of us are in an emotional coma. I alternate hourly between righteous indignation and a desperate need for more action.

canstockphoto3194419Getting stuck in this loop is crushing me and writing has become my only way out. I’ve written essay after essay in the early hours. Some angry, some tearful and bitter, trying to find that crack to let the light in. And on the Marauder’s Map of my country, I can imagine the dots revealing themselves, one after another. Writers and poets and artists all working away, seeking the light and, ultimately showing us the way forward. In an age when bad is good and lies are truth, we must solemnly swear that we are up to no good.

45 Comments on “The Marauder’s Map

  1. Great post (as always) but I’m sorry you had to write it. I find myself in unknown territory. For the first time in my life I can find nothing to be hopeful about. Everyday the news is worse and more terrifying and he is getting away with it. And the reality is even here in Canada we will feel the impact of his evil and destructive ways — nowhere is safe. I can’t read, I have to force myself to do client work, I am completely distracted and can think of little else but this angry, bitter, hateful, severely mentally ill and dangerous man and all those — both in the government and ordinary citizens, who support him. We are in serious, serious trouble.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Because I think hopelessness in the population only serves authoritarians more, I’m struggling to combat it, to find my way back to hope. It’s hope that must be self-generated and sought out and nurtured in others. Perhaps that is the first, most important thing we must do. I’m still playing in the weeds, trying to find my way clear. I hope you find your way back as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right of course. I’m not one to give up easily but the assaults are so many and so frequent it’s exhausting.

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        • You are 100% right. The intent IS to bombard us into oblivion and we cannot let him get away with it. And you are absolutely right about focusing on the actionable items. Of course that’s the challenge — not letting yourself get overwhelmed or sidetracked — but it’s also where hope will come from.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. The part about neighbours turning in neighbours worries me, too (among so many of the other concerns you list).

    I take courage from the fact that some members of the press are calling out the lies. I take courage from writers like you who speak out here on social media. Then I wonder, can the Ministry of Alternative Facts shut the door on the internet?

    Liked by 2 people

    • President Trump started his campaign against the press long ago and I think he will try to put some meat on that bone. Much of the press is owned by corporations and he’s throwing a lot of weight around right now, so who knows.
      His FCC pick shows me that he’s willing to screw with the internet as well. But we have a long history of dissension without the internet. Soviet dissidents would hand- or typewrite literature and media, creating multiple copies to distribute when censorship was at its height. Dissent always finds a way.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I share your sense of horror and despair, though it’s not my country. I can’t believe it when people, even in my own country, say let’s give him a chance. Can’t they see? I got tangled up with a sociopath boss at work and in spite of doing my best not to let him get to me, within months I ended up at the doctor’s, without a job, my confidence shattered, and never able to work at that level again. Sociopaths like this man manipulate and destroy people, and nobody will take their victims seriously because of that superficial charm. The best defence is to avoid them altogether or maintain a vigilant distance, but there is no avoiding this one and no end to the potential harm he could do, globally, in a very, very short time.

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    • Yeah, the “let’s give him a chance” crowd is wearying. It might be fortuitous that he is moving so quickly on things – we don’t have any excuses to wait and see.
      I worry less about his financial conflicts, than the conflicts to his ego. Because of his narcissism, he is unpredictable and dangerous for our society. He has put his ego into every little crack and divide in this country and pried it wide open. I don’t know how we recover from the animus with which we’ve come to regard our fellow citizens.

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    • The parallels really struck me last night. Maybe it is like most stories of good and evil (with some nuance) – all the elements are the same, just the names are changed. How could we not see Dolores Umbridge in Betsy DeVos or Crab and Goyle in Steve Bannon?
      With the flurry of executive orders, I am reminded of the wall of decrees at Hogwarts – a new decree going up every time someone did something subversive. Maybe it’s more a wall of Tweets now.

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      • JK is a true hero in my book. I had similar strong feelings visiting her haunts in Edinburgh as I did with Joyce in Dublin, hers arguably more impactful, but it’s silly to compare. I love her story of setting a year-long workback target to finish her book, and doing so as a newly single mom. And finding devilish ways to incorporate her anger for her ex in the books. And last, defacing a statue in a high end hotel, drunk, fucking JK was here right?! That’s what I’m talking about!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree. We are living in the Upside Down now. [Reference to Stranger Things, a tv show that is warpy and clever.] I’ve been thinking along similar lines to what you said here, reviewing history, as well. I think that the best use of my quiet voice is to keep reminding everyone who I talk with that this clown is not normal. A small thing to do, but at least I’m resisting. Which is something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Small things lead to bigger things. At least that’s what I’m discovering for myself. I think there’s some sort of expectation out there that we’re supposed to shut up and wave our flags, as if that is all being a good citizen is about.

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  5. Once again, Michelle, you spoke my heart. It feels like we are living in a snow-globe of a dystopian novel. I am also having difficulty writing—the pastime that is generally my greatest solace and my greatest joy. Anger, fear, and complete bewilderment are taking up too much bandwidth and distracting my energy. We (artists, writers, dissidents, others fueled by tolerance) must remain strong and keep telling the stories, keep speaking the truth, keep pointing out that the emperor not only has no clothes, he’s stark, raving, mad. This is not what I expected to be doing at this stage of my life, but do it we must. I am so weary of those who are saying “wait and see,” “we must give him a chance,” and “he is now our president, we must support him.” What will it take to get their attention? Perhaps only when the stormtroopers knock on their door in the middle of the night … or will they just say, “No, you want the house across the street”?

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    • That’s just it, Donna. The building blocks are being put in place, one block at a time and with each one, we’re being told “settle down, it will be okay”. What exactly are we waiting for? People are so busy “winning” that they don’t see the outcomes will not be in their favor. No one wants to be right in their doom and gloom forecast, but willful ignorance is what got us here in the first place.

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  6. The unpredictable iconoclast has worked the media to advantage throughout, and for this he deserves my respect. Your doomsday fears for the future contribute to the hopeless, helpless attitude that has brought the US to this state. It’s not about Trump the man. It’s about the awakening of America and the power of an individual (including that individual) to make a significant difference. Now it’s up to taxpayers to pressure representatives to keep the president in check, and to educate him about what’s best for all of us.

    I, for one, am happy that the media (biased in favor of corporate advertisers) has egg on its face.

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    • Well, Katherine, you know I disagree with you. I do agree that America has been awakened, because there is an imminent threat, not because we’re headed into some great renaissance period. Because that would require diversity, creativity and imagination, none of which are present in the administration and its retro policies. Let’s hope it is not as bad as I imagine. Let’s hope you are right.

      But there is absolutely zero evidence that President Trump will be kept in check about anything and he ingratiates himself to anyone who marches lock step to his ego. That’s the most frightening thing about this. It’s not the bad ethics or the corrupt financial ties, it’s his ego, insatiable and fickle, that will do either him or us in.

      The idea that the media is some monolithic cabal sounds like a talking point. We did this. By getting our news for free, we did not contribute to salaries, research costs, or travel so that journalists could do their job, forcing them to rely on advertisers. We did this. But we lose as a nation if they aren’t able to effectively do their jobs. I now pay subscription fees and never use social media for a news source. It’s in the best interest of our country if we have a robust press.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It is horrendous to have a lying, mentally unstable bully as President of the USA. The present scenario would be unthinkable as a film script let alone reality. Let’s hope he is impeached soon.

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    • I’m not sure impeachment will help. Pence has ideological rigidity that is frightening. I don’t know if President Trump is just a symptom of cancerous wingnut politics or if he is a clumsy distraction and impediment to the nuttiest of the bunch. It all seems like a roll of the die these days.

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      • President Trump is at best an international joke and at worst a very dangerous man. He has lied, bullied and bought his way into one of the most prestigious and powerful positions in the world and in less than a week has wreaked havoc. Surely no one could be as bad as him. You know these people and the system better than me though.

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        • I feel so sorry that you have to endure this nightmare. Stay strong, keep writing! Encourage those who have influence to keep him accountable. I don’t know about you, but I am a firm believer in miracles. Millions of people around the world are behind you and wishing you well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the sympathies. I think we’re seeing a pattern of authoritarianism and nationalism around the world – I suppose there was no reason to think the US would be excluded.

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  8. It’s awful that we’re living through these times, but this post gave me great hope. I hope the press continues to stand up for itself, and I hope more news sources spring up, full of unrelenting and honest people who will fight back until the truth drowns out the lies, these ‘alternative facts’. And it wouldn’t hurt if they called themselves the Marauders, or Potterwatch, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you found some hope in this post. I’m struggling with keeping a firm grasp on that. I write because it tends to put order to disorder and calm to chaos, but it seems that I have to keep writing about this, as each day brings some new awful thing. Your comment tempts me to rename my whole blog “The Marauder” and get fierce!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wished I could have heard that. It goes part and parcel with the gross anti-intellectualism that has been played up over the last year. There are so many fronts on which resistance is necessary, but the contempt for science will be the costliest to the future. I hope you do keep writing about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, there are so many fronts on which resistance is necessary. It can be overwhelming. It’s hard to find your niche. I’ve appreciated reading about your struggles in that regard. But at least I like science and know something about it, so maybe it’s an area where I have something to say.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so feeling your pain Michelle. I keep trying to find reasons to hope, and they are there. In my own state, I am proud of our Governor, the Mayor of Seattle and local law enforcement who are stating that what Trump is asking them to do, detaining any illegals suspected of criminal activity, is unconstitutional, and that they will continue to use their judgement to police our communities. They already contact ICE when a suspected illegal is detained for serious offenses such as murder or rape or armed robbery, but they will not “hold” individuals suspected for minor offenses who cannot prove their status due to constitutional constraints. Mayor DeBlasio of NYC has already said he will not comply with a Muslim registry or unconstitutional detainments either. The resistance will be great and un-relentless. Even the gov. agencies he is trying to stifle are made up of individuals who will not comply. We have to fight back and hang on. In a few years there will be a whole lot of young folks who are environmentally and socially aware who will be voters. I have hope. That doesn’t keep me from feeling despair in the moment, but it keeps me from curling up in a ball and giving up..plus, as even this blog page illustrates, the world is watching and they are with us. Keep the faith.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, too, gain hope from the young people that I meet who are so much more enlightened and engaged than I ever was. The key now is to prevent lasting damage, so that they have something left to improve upon. As far as sanctuary cities go, we’ve already seen submission by one mayor (Miami-Dade). Hopefully the others can stand strong. The discourse on the subject lacks complete nuance from people who don’t understand how things work. They just want storm troopers going door-to-door. How else are many of those laws enforced? That’s their vision of a great America. Ugh. The faith will be kept, but I think it will be the angry kind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Like one of the local sheriffs here said: We don’t want dangerous criminals in our communities. Of course they don’t. They will contact ICE when they need to. People don’t understand that sanctuary cities are there for people who were brought here by their parents or born here to illegals to protect them from deportation. That is pro family. I thought that was a GOP theme????

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  10. So glad I stumbled upon your blog. You echo my thoughts entirely. It’s very unlike me to worry over politics but when faced with the current state of things it’s impossible not to have cause for concern. I hope to begin blogging about this myself when I can get past the whole setting it up thing which is actually doing my creative head in. Thankyou again, it’s such a relief to find like minds. It’s like a refuge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never felt such incredible unease either when it comes to politics – even with George W. Bush. He was, at the very least, consistent. This is a whole new, scary game.
      I wish you the best getting your blog set up – once you get through that part, it really is a nice venue for writing in public. Good luck!

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  11. When we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it (or something like that!) It’s sad that so many people fall for the current propaganda. A little research is all they would need to find the truth, it’s at everyone’s fingertips! I guess it’s just easier to let Big Brother tell us so we don’t have to waste the time or effort. Such a pity!!

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    • And not just history, but literature born out of history. Lately, it seems like we’re preparing to live 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451 in one fell swoop. I think it requires imagination to see what the outcomes of current actions would be, but we thrive in a culture of instantaneous answers and solutions. Foresight is much needed at this point.

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  12. As always, love the Harry Potter references! I stumbled on one portion of the article, though. Where you cite an ouroboros as an example: “It seems unthinkable, but authoritarian rulers, no matter where they are in place or time, are terrible in all the same ways and exploit the population’s fears and anxieties in such a way that the snake eats itself.”

    I wasn’t sure whether the snake represents the country or just the authoritarian leaders? Is that the direction of hateful policies will bring our country to destroy itself or that hateful acts eventually lead such authoritarian systems to implode–that, eventually, corrupt leaders create their own self-destruct mechanisms?

    I had a hard time even raising the question, so hopefully you can clarify the point so I can feel smarter, if not safer. Thank you.

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  13. It’s a true crossroads in history for this nation — this admin could be the exact thing that’s needed to counter the globalists who attack national sovereignty — or this admin could turn into a type of fascist state … in my opinion it’s still too early to tell but I understand your concerns….I’m trying to work a longer term article that takes in both possible ‘future paths’ and asks what they might look like …….I certainly hope that the electorate remain focused on checks and balances, the concept of the Republic and keep our elected rep’s as honest as possible……..have a good night

    Liked by 1 person

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