Media now interprets with stunning alacrity. The news tirelessly ciphers and deciphers every tweet, photo, encounter and blunder that forms the imaginary body of one, Donald Trump. Then of course, each one, with their own social media platform, re-interprets, retweets, decries, lauds and curses. It is hard to locate the Mainstream Media in either the ideology of the left or the right. In fact, after the last US election, it has been hard to locate the ideology of the left or right at all. Milo Yiannopoulos is an excellent case study. Let’s punctuate a few signifiers of the Mainstream Media. It has been declared that we are living under a post-truth presidency. This is the era of alternative facts. Fake news, fake news!
Fake news is old news, especially for psychoanalysts. Long ago Freud realized that the unconscious lies. Decades ago, Lacan hallmarked the lying truth. When it comes to the daily scandals of the 45th US Presidency, which seems perpetually teetering on the brink of collapse, it is hard to keep abreast of so many lies. Chasing the news feels like watching a game of Clue. It turns aout that this board game was invented during World War II for the British to pass the time in bunkers during air raids. The object of the game is to determine who killed whom, in what room, with what weapon. It was originally named, ‘Murder!’, but renamed, ‘Cluedo’, a play on clue and the latin word for game, ludo. Was it Michael Flynn in Moscow with the telegram? Was it James Comey in the Oval office with fake intel? Was it Trump in the tower with a tweet? What about Kushner in a Russian bank with a whisper? Seth Rich with a Wikileak at the DNC? He actually did end up murdered in the streets of Washington DC. According to a recent bipartisan survey, the ‘leak’ is now the number one paradigm for the enjoyment of language. Language is constantly leaking. The parlêtre itself is a leak in the symbolic.
Don’t worry, the real never lies. In 1975 at Yale University, Lacan proposed that, “Hysterics force ‘signifying matter’ to confess. . .” The post-truth presidency has forced the symbolic order to make a confession worthy of impeachment. The big confession is that the universal guarantee of truth no longer anchors the political. As psychoanalysts we call for the impeachment of the master signifier. At least, we might aim to allow our analysands to get the master signifier out of their Oval Office of jouissance.
Amidst all the disorienting confusion of fake news, there is something about the real that never lies. Anxiety is ubiquitous. Anxiety, the only affect that doesn’t lie, passes like the purloined letter through the political circuits of the drive. Consequently, the atmosphere of the White House is grim, paranoid, and deteriorating. How many times can you lie before you say the truth, how many truths can you hail before they resound as lies. A psychoanalyst may already distrust the collusion of the imaginary and the symbolic. What always returns to take its vengeance is the real of the letter. The real of the lie too comes back to haunt us. It is there in the fact of speaking from the very beginning.
Side by side with Pope Francis, the father of the poor, Mr. Trump appeared as the prodigal son in the Vatican. Cardinal Peter Turkson, a Vatican official, tweeted that Pope Francis ‘offers peace of dialogue’ and Trump ‘security of arms’ . Trump’s audience with the Pope last May was the final stop on a ‘tour of the ancestral homes of three of the world’s great monotheistic religions.’ This tour produced a striking juxtaposition: the dead father of the Monotheistic religions; the real father of the White House of jouissance. The question for those living under the post-truth presidency is thus: can this real father organize or only disorganized America. Perhaps the tenuous reality of fake news and alternative facts has left us with a place to locate anxiety. Anxiety remains in the letter as it erodes its way through the circuits of the media that constitute our political body of language. Speaking of the body, if you haven’t seen this video of the Pope with Trump, take a look!