Friday, August 11, 2017

Re: our improvising president

Earlier this week The New York Times reported that Donald Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” “was entirely improvised.” I fear that this characterization (which I quoted in a post, without comment) gives improvisation a bad name.

In a moment of crisis, improvisation may be urgently needed. I recall the WWII medic who used a pocket knife and fountain-pen cap to perform a tracheotomy. But a capable improviser doesn’t make it up from nothing: the medic of course would have been trained to perform a tracheotomy. Nor does a capable improvising musician just make it up: he or she creates in the moment from a lifetime’s experience as a listener and performer.

There is a marked difference between a resourceful, quick-thinking, practiced improviser and a would-be tough guy who flies by the seat of his pants. We should be careful not to equate improvisation with our president’s reckless bluster.

comments: 2

Pete said...

"Fire and fury" is much too poetic for Trump to have come up with on his own.

Michael Leddy said...

I’m not so sure. It sounds to me like something inspired by the movies. Stephen Colbert had a nice collection of clips of Trump using “the likes of which” — that part at least is standard for him.