(Trompe de l’oeil is an art technique that creates the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Literally “trick the eye.”)
That Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s appeal is one-dimensional hardly needs saying, however, what is worth remarking is his ability to deceive supporters into thinking he has depth. Trump makes astoundingly ludicrous statements, but he makes them with the faux moral authority of the extremely wealthy in a world in which the possession of wealth is in itself a signifier of moral substance deserving of respect. As with our own Malcolm Turnbull, if a man or woman manages to accrue enough money, it is assumed that he or she is capable of running a country.
Trump possesses the talent required of all successful propagandists: to make one-dimensional, exclusionary and divisive statements resound with the ring of deep truth, in the style of a painting intended to mislead with a convincing illusion of reality.
As Trump’s popularity rises and rises in the US , a woman can be forgiven for questioning the usefulness of a representative democracy that permits a blatantly disturbed majority the opportunity to determine a country’s governance.
Trump hates women, that is to say, he loves women until we cross him, sometimes entirely inadvertently by not physically presenting as he thinks women ought, and then he hates us. He has unresolved issues with menstruation: he thinks it makes us mentally incapacitated, homicidal, and disgusting as well.
It is actually possible to purchase from a US website panties, or what we more comfortably refer to as knickers to wear during our time of the month, that feature Trump’s face on the crutch so we can bleed on him. I’m conflicted. I get the satisfaction of bloodying Trump’s dial, but at the same time, having that dial nestled against my lady bits? I don’t know. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, she’s on the rag.
As a trompe de l’oeil politician Trump is, sadly, far from unique. Failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott is an outstanding example of one-dimension striving for the illusion of multiplicity. This explains his bizarre use of three-word slogans, yes it does, one for each dimension, you know I’m right.
I doubt current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull varies greatly in his capacity for perspective, though he claims to be agile, innovative, and what’s the third one?
Trompe de l’oeil has largely fallen out of favour as an art form, except when used ironically on the walls of cramped inner city gardens. Unfortunately, it has become many politicians’ favoured method of operation, as one after the other they abandon all remaining substance, replacing it with the illusion/delusion of eye-tricking depth.
As Baudrillard would have it, we live in the time of simulation, of references with no referents. Trump is the face of this hyperreality: bleeding on it may well be our only option.