Monday, September 9, 2019

No deal

One small sign of the degradation of political discourse these days: the media’s unquestioning adoption of the word “deal.” Granted, the word was in use before the current occupant of the White House moved in. I remember the Iran nuclear deal. And well before my time there was a New Deal.

But now all manner of things take on the identity of a “deal.” I am thinking of course of the prospect of a “deal” with the Taliban. Imagine — just try to imagine — talk of a “deal” with an Axis power all those years ago. Such language feels obscene.

Donald Trump’s fixation on making deals, great deals, betrays a mindset that has no room for the deep truth of what it means to be human. Because to be human is, finally, to lose. Every hand is a losing hand; every life, a losing proposition. I side with Ralph Ellison in these matters. In the words of the unnamed narrator of Invisible Man (1952):

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.
No deal to get around that.

A related post
“The fact of death, which is the only fact we have”