Rita Banerjee interviews author David Shields about his book, Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: An Intervention. Listen below:

 

Below is an excerpt from the transcript:

 

Rita Banerjee:    David, thank you so much for talking to me about Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump. I really enjoyed reading the book; I thought it was compelling and a really fast read. I just wanted to start off by asking you a question about the form of the book and its composition. You often call this  a curated diary or a thematized journal, and it seems like there are six major acts to this book, everything ranging from “A rage to injure what has injured us” to “Apocalypse always.” How do these major themes tie into one another and build up to the book’s final epiphany?

David Shields:    Thanks, Rita. The book is indeed broken into six chapters. What is it, this culture that we are living in, which seems qualitatively different from previous political cataclysms? As a citizen of the republic, what could I do to address it? There is or was something riveting about the Performer-In-Chief. There’s something in him – we can all pretend that we’ve turned it off, and maybe some of us have. I wanted to explore this mixture of revulsion and attraction. Not to any political stance of his, but to his performative chops. I’m a big fan of the idea that great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings. On the one hand, my intellectual self is actively opposed to him; I’m doing all kinds of things to contribute to his defeat.. But there’s this other quite primitive part of me that is fascinated by the fact that he is still President. So I just kept a journal. Every day I’d walk around the house with my headphones on. I’d be flying back and forth from CNN to MSNBC to Fox News, from Christian talk radio to NPR to local news. I read every book about and putatively by him. I listened to every episode of the Howard Stern Show with Trump and I watched every episode of The Apprentice. With this onslaught of media coming in, it almost felt as if I were in a war zone. That was important to me, to just gather all of this stuff. I had hundreds upon hundreds of pages of this stuff, but I wanted to organize it into a very carefully structured pattern. =This book is organized within an inch of its life. Among the many things I find exciting about collage, is that it can boundary jump. One of the pleasures of writing this book for me, and I hope for a reader, is you never know what’s going to come next. I can cut to anywhere I want to go as long as I am getting a deeper purchase on Trump. The whole excitement of this form is that you’re not just making a fictional gesture or essayistic gesture or a stand-up comedy gesture. You can pull from any possible pot of clay, so long as you are deepening your investigation. I also hope that it almost feels for reader that you are spying on the writer as he is going on this existential adventure. And the reader kind of feels like, “this is actually adding up to something.” One of the chapters, “A rage to injure what’s injured us,” is really about Trump’s childhood. There is a wonderful line by Robert Hass from his great poem“Bush’s War.” He says that there is a rage to injure what’s injured us. Without turning Trump into simply a psychoanalytic category, he was demolished by his father. He’s hugely projecting that anger elsewhere. Then there’s the chapter “The frenzy of the visible” in which he’s trying to experience love through the media. There’s this amazingly interesting feedback loop in which he’s watching TV watch him watch TV watch him. It’s like Being There  times one hundred, in which he’s trying to experience love through media forms. Out of his broken childhood, he became incapable of human love. Out of that incapacity, he attempted to live within a sort of “mediaverse,”hoping and believing that somehow the big TV in the sky would love him back. The big message of the book is that he may destroy the planet out of the rage that has injured him. The final revelation of the book is that the thing that will save us is Trump’s self-destruction. There’s such profound self-loathing that animates his hatred. I argue that before Trump destroys the planet, he’ll destroy himself. The book is making a very clear argument about how brokenness leads to lovelessness, how that lovelessness leads to an over investment in media culture, how that media culture can in no way can yield a love that he wants, how out of that emptiness creates a huge drive of destruction, and how the possible saving grace is that he finally will self-destruct. It’s a beautiful and terrifying circle.Hidden within these 400 paragraphs is this relatively tight psychosocial argument of the book. It’s really a very specific investigation – how destruction comes from in its own woundedness, how it projects itself outward, how it often defeats itself through self-loathing.

 

 

 

 

 

One sentence from each book I read in 2019, in the order I finished them.

 

It must have been horrible for him to create me and then lose control of the narrative in this way. In these investigations of why and how, I am hoping to uncover an origin story. It had happened, but not the way I told it in the book. Let’s see here, let’s see. Now that I was looking at them full on, I could see something coming out of their chests, from their hearts, like glow-in-the-dark string. People should just wear glass with electric lights inside. I crack my knuckles and open up my emails. Call me when you’re tired of wasting this life. You guys are from an effed-up time. It was as though she volunteered to become an adult before she was ready, and something was sucked away from her, and suddenly she could be sad at any moment without ever knowing why. Comedy for me is watching someone perform open heart surgery on themselves because no one else will. Anyway, there’s some writing on sex addiction for you, darling sister. That’s not the right question. Peace, peace, peace, happiness, happiness, happiness. Cringe denotes embarrassment, fleeting shame. People like us are often herded together slowly by the invisible will of the damned, fake-happy. He went into seizures. He was Goth when he felt like it. He hates his job and what he really wants to do is make art and be happy. I guard my memories and love them, but I don’t get in them and lie down. I, wretched, was there, sitting in this office, and I was to tell my wretched story. The book goes on even if it’s closed. Life was the only thing.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

In December, the TNB Book Club will be reading You Can See More From Up Here (Golden Antelope Press), by Mark Guerin.

 

Sign up by November 15th to get your copy and join the club!

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.