"Is That All There Is?" released on an album featuring Peggy Lee (above) in 1969 is based on Thomas Mann's short fiction story
Disillusionment. This is Donald Trump's favorite song . On tapes released by the New York Times, which contain interviews by journalist Michael D'Antonio for his 2014 biography The Truth About Trump,  the billionaire narcissist said, "It's a great song. Because I've had these tremendous successes and then I'm off to the next one, because, it's like, 'Oh, is that all there is?' That's a great song actually. That's a very interesting song, especially sang by her, because she had such a troubled life." The articulate Republican President Abraham Lincoln would have phrased his reaction this musical ditty more succinctly.
 

"In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning. Thus fear is judged as rational or appropriate and irrational or inappropriate. An irrational fear is called a phobia." In a Gallop Poll of Americans aged 13 to 17 back in 2005 their top 10 fears were cited as "terrorist attacks, spiders, death,failure, war, criminal or gang violence, being alone, the future and nuclear war." That last has probably moved up the list since then. As for phobias, WeeD's is uncommon. Some of the most common fears according to surveys are fear of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations, and public speaking.



"Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways,” said Prime Minster Justin Trudeau (above). “This is what positive politics can do." A full 125 years ago, Liberal Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier set the model for our current "Mr. Sunshine," who is still doing well in polls.  Writing for the National Post last October, Joe O"Conner spoke of the defeated Conservative prime minister: "Harper was all business and, lately, his business relied on mounting a campaign that was divisive and mean. From the niqab to the "Trudeau is an airhead" attack ads to pot-is-the-devil’s-weed and would-be-immigrant-terrorists are lurking under every Canadian bed; fear mongering, Team Harper bet that appeals to the darker aspects of human instinct would get him re-elected. In doing so he overlooked a simple truth: Canadians are nice people." Winter being what it is in the "True North" we are always ready to let the sunshine in. "Greet it with a grin..."
 


You fill in Trump's speech balloons. In April, 2917 North Korea celebrated its "Day Of The Sun" and Trump says he stands ready to brighten their skies. He blamed presidents "all the way back to Clinton" for not neutralizing the military might of that nation saying, "Now I'm put in a position where he (the North Korean dictator) actually has nuclear and we're going to have to do something about it!" What it is ain't exactly clear," it never is with this guy. WeeD was a clueless belligerent lad of 16 when the United States was last in a similar truly fearful situation. Sometimes fear is a rational reaction to the daily grind of dirty political events.



Trump never had to endure the daily reading of lists of relatives and the the dad's of friends killed in a long-lasting world war. When it was over, everyone was glad to put aside fear of conquest, and it was a couple of decades before Remembrance Day became more than a half-holiday. On October 17, when the Cuban missile Crisis went to situation red, a majority of the population of North America remembered the cost of past aggression.



If there was war in 1962 there were no great expectations of a sweeping victory sanction by God.  In the earliest days, people came how to Maritime Canada from the larger centres in Central Canada, expecting that they might never return to work there. There was a lot of whistling in the dark, and predictions that survival might not be a desirable thing. Although this book is now more than five decades old, the content is again relevant. Background supplied by Rod.





That Raymond Briggs animated film which came several years after a negotiated peace, was a reminder that the world needed disarmament.  Interestingly, it was Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker who harried Kennedy's nuclear weapons out of storage in Canada, and insisted that any further confrontations should be resolved by the United Nations.  The Briggs tale is so deeply dark, Rod hates to recommend it, but it can be seen and is discussed on line. Searle's twisted humour is easier on the head than probably realities.


Even kids had been exposed to Saturday afternoon news movies of war damage and could project that on the Canadian landscape. Halifax, Nova Scotia would probably not have been reduced to rubble but radioactivity carried on the prevailing wind meant that many citizens would be turned to premature dust. Everyone had read John Hershy;s book Hiroshima and knew they had to fear that invisible killer. If a long range missile went astray it could land anywhere in that secondary circle.



The question remains today, as then: Who has seen the wind, or even escaped it, would wish to emerge in a post-nuclear world? It appears that mankind may never learn from past experience.



Jump through time by fifty-five years, and what does one see. Same old farts, same old shit. That's being generous! In his day, John F. Kennedy warned Vladimir Khrushchev using almost these same words, but he had more words and political street smarts than Donald.



Why bring this up? Old folks have survived dangerous times and know a time, maybe two!  The blind teacher and humanitarian, Helen Keller,  got it right: "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold." And the old can afford to be bold, assured that that will be more fun.  In retrospect, Hamlet might intone from the grave, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." Dale Carnegie, a bit of an optimistic freak said that and is "dead this day." That major quote is not entirely without truth.



Rod's Grandpa K used to say, "Hope for the Best, Expect The Worst." Truth seems to be that a smile really is an umbrella, and modest hopeful expectations are sometimes substantially rewarded, whether through prayer, or simply the ancient Gaelic pagan act of wishing it so.  That does not denigrate the need for rational thought! This deck is a terrible heat trap in deep mid-summer, but look at those trees? R&R do enjoy this area in the shoulder seasons because it is suffused with clean rapidly moving, warm air. In this world,  many of our desires are fulfilled.

 

R&R painted by R. Consider life expectancy, it has generally risen in the past 50 years more than in the last thousand which came before. Who sez? Ian Goldin and Chris Ku
tarana in their book, Age and Discovery, Risks and Rewards of Navigating, the New Renaissance, Bloomsbury/St. Martin's Press, (2016). About $15 online. They point out that "for the fist time in human history poverty is declining" and add that, that this has happened in spite of rapid population growth.


 
These Brits have good credentials and are well footnoted. They claim the world is way more literate tan it used to be and that this is not entirely because of bookish interests. They say that higher education has gone climaxic exponentially because of political policies regarding education in India and China.
 


There are huge exceptions, but it is probably true that children on Planet Earth now grow up "healthier, wealthier and smarter than at any time in history."  The writers think that this is due to termination of the cold war, partial democratization of South America Asia and sub-Saharan African China's emergence as a parti-capitalism realm, and "of central significance, the advent of the internet." Advent? There is a word for the unshriven?  It contends for attention with "Noel" the ancient word "Yell."




Here is where the G&K message gets a bit muddy, or perhaps fragmented.  Certainly, the jump in IT resources has pumped up scientific/technological discoveries in terms of time and quality. These authors claim that will mean "flipping our basic position from scarcity to abundance." Question remains? Who is manning the frying pan handle and people have routinely been getting egg in the face by displacement in favour of machines. Who will profit from these advances? Is there a Poirot waiting in the wings to put the the fragments of this promise of a "one day" Utopia together in a logical, understandable, information package for common folk?



"Citizen science" projects have developed as a result of our increased connectedness. These  are activities sponsored by a wide variety of organizations so that non-scientists can meaningfully contribute to scientific research. Wikipedia suggest that there were more than a thousand such projects back in April 2017. My guess is that very few Trumpians are involved, considering their anti-science stance. Many Republican supporters will never be swayed to the side of legitimate science through participation in a project since their social and financial environment prohibits this. This is strictly a hobby for those who can afford equipment and time.




It is true that the future is "packed with new possibilities," and it is also correct to say that "we've never been better equipped" to seize the moment and create a somewhat better world. But the dance may go to the dark side of the ball room. Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarana guess that, "The problem is that many of us don't feel it. If this is the best time to be alive, it certainly hasn't been the easiest."



This does not look like strong support for moving on with more of the same. Possibly In Goldin, who is director of the Oxford Martin School is currently Oxford University Professor of Globalisation and Development. "Previously, Goldin was Principal Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, and Program Director at the OECD Development Centre in Paris, where he directed the Programs on Trade, Environment and Sustainable Development. He has a BA (Hons) and a BSc from the University of Cape Town, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and an MA and Doctorate from the University of Oxford." He is old enough to have anachronistic moments. His young apprentice/co-author probably has yet to reach that stage in his life.




While cartoonist Ronald Searle did live in New York City, I don't think that this image was more than a generalization, but it might be seen by some poor souls as predictive.  Coincidence is rife in our world. Anyway, Goldin admitted that, "This upheaval has created winners: among owners of capital; among entrepreneurs who have grown into new markets; and among individuals whose skills, acumen or luck helps them navigate this tangle." Unfortunately these have been a decreasing proportion of the human population and that may stand in the way of a New Renaissance.




THE BIG APPLE as seen and satirized in the 1960s when WeeD was a sprout apprenticed to his dad. Goldin admits to some "unevenness" in "humanities gains" and agrees that disillusionment that society may eventually improve for the masses "is rotting away." For decades there has been homelessness in the United States and Canada, and at election time, voters have resisted reasoned arguments about the benefits of class cooperation. That has led to a renewal of extreme nationalism, protectionism and xenophobia according to Goldin.
Rembrandt came long after the Italian master painters of the Italian Renaissance but he shared their misery when it came to pleasing patrons and getting paid.  The Old Renaissance was not a good time to be impecunious. Nevertheless, Goldin thinks we can take some comfort from this parallel period in time. He says, "Amidst unrelenting upheaval and upheaval and, the Renaissance left a legacy that we still celebrate as one of humanity;s brightest. It also left wisdom, both in its triumph sand disasters, to help us steer through similar storms."



Goldin insists: "We need to welcome genius. To understand that disruptive change and technological revolutions can spread both immense good and harm. To embrace change, and strengthen public safety nets in ways that embolden us all. To build new crossroads and welcome migrants, To tear up the (mental) maps that divide people. To stoke virtues - especially honesty, audacity and dignity. To champion collective endeavors as well as individual freedoms. Sounds great, but the divide between intuitive thinking and rational thought is probably wider today than in times past, and technologies is infinitely more dangerous if left uncontrolled. The concept of a New Renaissance is very problematic, on the other had we do have privilege of living in an era which is arguably the wildest and most interesting of all time.
 


Rod had hoped for a more reassuring message from those New Renaissance prophets. Baring that he was looking for more personal advice on how to fact the tense-present. The best bet is perhaps found in suggestions from health professionals who deal with Post Traumatic Stress  Disorder.  Simply put this is "a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event - either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event." These days, teachers encounter this problem, one little seen in Rod's prime teaching decade back in the late 50s and early 60s.
 


Searle's brief career as an army engineer ended with the fall of Hong Kong during World War II. Incarcerated for nearly five year she survived but admitted that he was afterwards haunted by what he had seen and that influenced his work. When PTSD is mentioned it is usually with reference to the military, but there are a lot of other high stress occupations, health care workers, firefighters, and police officers coming first in a list. There are ugly happenings in our world but sociologists and psychologists believe that fear blights attempts to avoid exceeding the elastic limit of the psyche. There may be fear of being blamed, losing respect or prestige, but they say confrontation of the causative agent is the only way to proceed.



Early on Rod pirated Heinrich Kleys images, and wonders if Searle was influenced by this German artist who died in 1945(or thereabouts). These suggestions are perhaps not the best means of problem solving, but there actually good ideas for facing reality in the wider world. A lot of angst has already been worked through by others and one mental health adviser say, "You don't have to reinvent the wheel," just re imagine yourself in terms of someone else's model.




As the US election males clear it is easy to be caught up in charismatic intuition, so if you change your mind be prepared to back up thoughts with something more than supposition. The opinions of strangers are only good if supported by good research. Otherwise you are diving into an empty pool.



Prevarication is the preface to a lie. Your parents have told you why you should not do that?  Rod has tried that in times past, and now attempts to avoid repeating the error. "Only honest promises will build trust in individuals and in systems that are supposed to serve the public."


Trump may not have sung, "I know where I'm going," but he could guess who was going with him. Credit WeeD for understanding the necessity of a simple goal.




Some of us were trained in cursive writing and mechanical calligraphy is the lead into that arena.  Like Searle, Rod's handwriting never matured, but Ronnie was a master calligrapher. Perhaps the reason for being is to add value to life, but success at that is not contractual. As one sociologist notes, "Maybe success today is just holding the line." Taking a line for a walk seems a reasonable starting point for Rod who is happily only half blind.



 

"Ingrid Bergman was born in northern Ontario, to a Canadian mother and a Dutch father. She grew up in a rural area near London, Ontario, and currently resides in London with her two children. Ms. Bergman began her full-time teaching career at the age of 23, on the island of Kyushu, Japan. Later that year she returned to Canada and began working as an Ontario public school teacher. At the age of 31, her life-long dream of becoming a mother came true, with the birth of Ava. Two years later she was once again blessed, this time with a son named Ethan. Her life dream, so hard worked-for, of a quiet family life and a rewarding career, was not to be realized. Domestic abuse, mental illness, and a dysfunctional education system combined to create a reality for Ingrid that was far different than what she had longed for." All the more reason to oppose bullies when we can?



The advent of Trump in the Art World has prompted psychologists to define a new human disorder, viz. Cognitive Dononsense Dissonance. Why is he such an angry old fart when it comes to Fine Art? In the mid-1980s, Christie's auction house in New York tried to rope the young businessman in as an art investor. There weedling and packaged propaganda failed. One dealer suggested that art and politics have never been a profitable mix. He suggested that this elite would rather be caught holding a whip than admit to having an interest in paintings and sculpture.




This was historic Steeplechase Park on Coney island before developer Fred Trump acquired it in 1965. He decided to demolish the park in 1966 before it could obtain landmark status. Trump held a "demolition party," at which invited guests to throw bricks through the Park's facade. So much for significant architecture?




It is probable that WeeD is neither and admirer of Poirot nor Art Deco architecture. Donald Trumps antagonism surprised people at the met who had offered to pay for the removal of sculptures from the facade. Interestingly, a New York Times story critical of the move merely referred to a Man With No Name, a "real estate developer.” In case you missed this Washington Post story (2016): Donald preferred to remain anonymous in sticky situations and years later said that his spokesman and art critic, John Barron, had declared the sculptures to be "without artistic merit." Later, Trump said that removal would have endangered pedestrians and motorists. The replacement was Trump Tower In a Times magazine story, Trump said he loved art and, gesturing at a sketch of Trump Tower noted, “If that’s not art, I don’t know what is.”  And Barron? He was none other than Donald Trump. "Trump kept up the charade for a full decade, as reporters unwittingly quoted Barron as if he were a real person... Trump might have gotten away with his ruse even longer if not for a lawsuit in which he testified, under oath in 1990, that "I believe on occasion I used that name." That was at a lawsuit in which migrant worker's wages were at issue and "Dear John" had threatened to sue them if they did not stop harassing The Turnip.



No this is not a wax mueum mannequin. Remember Tilyous? He had a self-depreciating sense of humour and might have been a model for Alfred E. Neuman. We all know that WeeD's taste in books favours those written about him by his ghostwriters. When it comes to paintings, he worries more about his image than do our two smiling lads, one dead, the other a fiction. "The Visionary" was painted by Ralph Cowan in 1989, who later stated that he had painted more reigning monarchs than any other artist.
"I don't make people look better like everybody says. I make them look healthier," he insisted in an interview. In the current year, Cowan. a resident of Palm Beach, said the painting would now sell for $24,000. Others have described the image as "overblown, vainglorious" and "monumental." One might add, "Mannerist," a style which often featured flattened perspective, precarious, awkward poses, and theatrical lighting.



Everett Raymond Kinstler, second from left, unveiled his portrait of Donald J. Trump about ten years ago, His pal singer Tony Bennett is at left. Cowan has noted that his client expressed a interest in work which was complete and more polished than this effort. This more accomplished artist is also a celebrity portraitist. Still it was probably closer his ideal than the work of fellow New Yorker, Andy Warhol. Trump encountered that pop artist on the social whirl but visited his "Factory" in 1981. Thinking that a Warhol portrait might not be his thing, Marc Belet a magazine art director suggested he might try painting of the Trump Tower to hang in the residential area.



At that studio meeting Trump found Trump overly "butch" and no contractual agreement was made but he produced " series of multi layered paintings in black, silver, and gold; some with a sprinkling of Warhol’s glittering diamond dust."  At the end of five months of work, he invited the Trumps to a viewing.  In hid diary the artist confided, "Trump was very upset that it wasn’t color-coordinated. They have Angelo Donghia doing the decorating so they’re going to come down with swatches of material so I can do the paintings to match the pinks and oranges. I think Trump’s sort of cheap, though, I get that feeling." That road bump was never ironed out.  In 1984 Warhol wrote: “I still hate the Trumps because they never bought the paintings.” Thus, WeeD missed a good business investment, whether or not this was Andy's best effort. It is ironic that our lord of gentrification evicted the National Endowment for the Arts from their Washington D.C. offices when he took over the building to convert it to a luxury hotel.



This portrait looks a bit left of Trump's stated taste in portraiture but it is a recognizable four-foot-tall
image, painted by Miami Beach artist Havi Schanz. In 2014, this painting was auctioned off during a charity gala at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Trump himself  placed the winning bid of $10,000, and paid for the painting with a check from his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Tax law experts had said that this could violate a law against "self-dealing," which prohibits nonprofit leaders from spending charity money to buy things for themselves. Those experts had said that, if the Trump Foundation paid for the painting, then the painting had to be put to charitable use. Investigative reporter David Farenthold located it hanging a bar at one of Trump's hotels.



This is a brand new official portrait; quite flattering, especially at the lower jowls.  In the 1950s graduates from Mount Allison Universities gallery school routinely cranked out graduation self-portraits which equaled this in technique, but almost all were more honest images.  On March 16, WeeD entirely defunded the National Endowment for the Arts , the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.



"This means American institutions, from the Library of America to Sesame Street, could find themselves in serious trouble." And what will poor Donald do them poor thing?

"Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do."  - Wendell Berry



Rod was set to return to painting late last year or early this year.  Trump dumped on that idea with his surprising electoral win.  Artist Mona Hatoum has said that "Art can’t be compared with journalism; it can’t discuss concrete issues." It can illustrate issues if the connection between the printed word and the drawn or painted image is not too subtle. Paintings alone are open to total misinterpretation without written clues. 



Sometimes, in creating these Trumpian web pages, Rod has set up internal puzzles as much to entertain himself as prompt lookers-on to reach for solutions and have some fun trying. In some cases, on line images impart an immediate message. George W. Bush was perhaps the only U.S. president to show any interest in this form of visual art.


Speaking on the divide between painted or sculptural images and real life happenings, Lauren Harris Junior told art students that these art forms drew only seconds of undivided attention. He continued, saying that if one  could predict a road accident in Sackville he could sell tickets and make a fortune. Not only that onlookers would be hooked for a much longer time. That he explained,  is why novelty often trumps good taste and a thoughtful technique. Macabre cartoons arrest attention much longer than pastoral masterpieces. That said, we seem to be standing at roadside. Some have purchased advance tickets showing that they deserve to be closest the action.



Since Franklin Roosevelt's time Presidents of the United States have expected to submit to a 100 Day Report Card. At this writing, Trumps day of reckoning is about a week distant (April 29).  While he has succeeded in getting Sessions conformed and rescinded some of Obama's executive orders, he has not managed to get legislation through Congress. Some movement is needed there since Federal funding for many government departments runs dry April 28, and Democrats and some Republican "traitors" insist that "We don’t just cut $30 billion checks and say, "Buy all the toys you want." Salon magazine has asked is "President Trumps  first 100 days: More frightening or more pathetic?"



While waiting, Rod will return to Plan A commencing with new pages detailing what what he has discovered about other artists who have had to deal with visual impairment. There remains that central question, "In an ephemeral and very uncertain world while bother?