Knebel was a writer of popular political fiction during the Cold War of the 1950’s and 1960’s, novels such as “Fail Safe” and “Seven Days in May,” being made into popular movies. Another novel which did not make it into the movies was entitled, “Is the President Stark Raving Mad.” However, nearly sixty years later someone…for reasons unknown (wink, wink), the novel is being re-released, certainly in part because of references made by Bob Woodward and Rachel Maddow.
Did you ever wonder what would happen if you were “stark raving mad”? Would you know it and be able to tell someone, “I’m nuts. Help me!” or would you refuse to acknowledge it. It depends upon the degree of madness. The closer one is to total madness, the less likely is he to ask for help as the ability to acknowledge any such infirmity is beyond the capacity of his feeble, fear-ridden ego. Most of us deal with internal duress at some point in our lives…and times throughout our lives…and one might think of this as “madness” but not anywhere near deserving the label madness. Life is difficult and at times the difficulties test our resources and our ability to make appropriate adaptation is challenged. But we do it and never merit the label “mad” though often…perhaps, ”neurotic as hell.” But those who are “stark raving mad” are so far beyond the pale that they are immune to any external feedback and will listen only to the feedback from their own internal haunts as well as those who have subscribed to the influence of these same haunts. Those who are under this influence have permitted this to happen because the haunts of the mad man, the “identified patient”, have resonated with some muted haunt in their own depths that they have surrendered to the siren call of this embodiment of madness that was before them.
Shakespeare offered pertinent wisdom on this matter, asking the question, “What is madness but to be nothing else but mad?” Shakespeare here recognized the point made above, that we are all mad to some degree, and the problem would lie only with those who are “nothing else but mad.” He realized that “madness” was only a problem when it consumed the individual to the point that his judgment was gravely impaired so that his choices put himself and/or others in danger. Such an individual is out of touch with reality, relative to another observation by the Bard, “Madness in great one’s must not unwatched go.”
I hesitate to describe Trump as “a great one” but he does occupy a “great” office with immense power and influence in the entire world. The evidence of his instability goes back decades, has become more prominent in recent decades as he became a more prominent public figure, and now is glaringly obvious as he occupies the office of the President. No, he is not “mad” for there is, at this point, “something else than mad” present. But there is madness, “stark raving madness” roiling in the depths of his being, and it cannot but escalate as the Mueller investigation continues to close in on him. “Acting out” always leads to conclusion, either humility and recognition of one’s excesses or an explosion of violence upon oneself, or others, or both. The ugliness within must find expression. We can run from it but it will always follow us until we address it or find a steady diet of “others” upon whom to project it.
I find it interesting that my country, the United States of America…the sole surviving superpower…has the ability to destroy the world but so far does not have within its heart the will or power to even “limit” this personification of its own avarice. Like any individual, my country is powerless before its hidden, feared, subterranean depths which are now glaringly obvious to us all in this embodiment of our heart’s darkness. Even his minions are aware of this but they are so “dug in” with his delusional system that they cannot admit it. This is the ‘will to self-destruction” which will relentlessly pursue its ends unless the gods, i.e. “God”, offers us a “deux ex machina” to resolve this mess.
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