Sometimes, when I’m stuck in traffic or lying in bed, scenes from Mad Men’s fifty-sixth episode, “Mystery Date,” play in my head like a home movie on mute.
The last year and a half, since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, has been anything but quiet; the apocryphal “may you live in interesting times” applies. It’s been hard to keep up! A lot has happened, especially on Twitter! How is one to make sense of the lunacy? Perhaps the Iliad can help.
The public nature of the hate is critical to its Americanizing function. Shouting hate slogans, hateful slurs, is our form of communist denunciation and coerced betrayals of loved ones — only, instead of marking Party membership, by offering up traitors to a cause, capitalists, enemies of state — we signal we are part of the majority by verbalizing hate, demonization, exclusion.
This idea of narratives is key: in a sense, the Enneagram is just an organized and abstracted system of characters that already exist, in specific forms, in literature. And just like literature, it can give us ways to understand and mobilize our own stories and transformations; indeed, we can think of literature as a place where philosophies of personality are put into play.
On January 22, I drove back from Washington, D.C. The day before, I’d been one of the 500,000 that filled out Independence Avenue, one of the specks in those awe-inspiring aerial shots that plastered the news. I’d been cold and hungry and dehydrated and I had not felt any of that discomfort until I sat down for dinner later that night and nearly wept at the sensation of sinking into a seat.