The Tell Tale Heart

Posted by rbroberg 5 years, 6 months ago to Culture
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I recently was gifted with a visit to Drama After Dark, a Halloween-inspired live drama event held at the wonderful Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. The event saw the tales of Poe come to life in a series of small venues across the location. A clear favorite was the Tell Tale Heart.

This is the story of a madman carefully and craftily plotting and executing a cold blooded murder. Catalyzing the crescendo was the perpetrator's palpable anxiety. I found the acting out of this menacing tale in some way very charming. The whole scene was underscored by a kind of frivolous assumption that the cold calculation of the murderer could never actually manifest in a rational person. True, I thought.

But an anxiety all my own took hold. Recounting the degree and severity of the 2016 campaign, the countless articles regarding America's fear and trepidation in the face of a difficult if not impossible decision, and the horror of rogue nations and terror cells inside and outside the homeland, I began to question the connection. The thought came loudly: Is America the old blue-eyed man whose heart could be heard below the floor boards?

Is the pulse all but gone, all while madmen under the utmost fear imagine the pulse is not their own adrenaline, grief, and guilt, but rather the pulse of the nation they have tried desperately to bury in a Kantian wasteland of permissions and not rights, of subjective whim and not objective law, of mob rule and not anti-coercion.

Like the madman, I could not be sure if I was projecting some strange fantasy onto a story of simple utterance. And yet, I could not be sure that the integration was incorrect, either. I suppose I should have thought of Rand's razor, but the whole enterprise depends on the definition of what or who constitutes an American -- or person -- of value and whether I seek to minimize risk in voting or gamble and lose ever so unfashionably. The truth, I thought, is that the canned speeches of the candidates, like the repetitious rantings of the actor, grew from somewhere. There are no isolated incidents, things are connected, and things happen for a reason. I continue.

The historico-philosophical leanings of Clinton show an obvious bias toward the Kantian politic, while those of Trump have a more Nietzschean flavor. In either case, the philosophy is wrong. In either case, the philosophy can be disastrous. Obaman Kantianism Redux or Nietzsche's adapted populism minus the ubermensch reference. To which of these should I feel predisposed? Trump claims to hear the beating heart of America, but I wonder if he can distinguish between his own beat and that of Lincoln or Jefferson. Clinton claims not to hear the beating heart of rational egoism, as if modern liberalism invented the nation, but I wonder how long she can keep feigning deaf ears.

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