Art has the power to change lives. It can redraw the boundaries of our public discourse and stretch the horizons of our private hearts. When you study its history and see the important role it has played in human development, you realize that art has the power to do anything, except make money. Mostly, though, it has the power to suck. Back when art was two carvings a year and whatever Michelangelo put out, it had to be really good. Now that everyone is an artist and all behavior is performance, no single unit of art has to do much work. It just has to be seen. Today is Friday, and the world is producing art on a larger scale than ever before. Won’t you tactfully remark on the size of the canvas with me?
The problem with democracy is that people never just shut up and give you what you want. Take American democracy, for example. You would think that after Republicans won control of all three branches of government—at no small cost to their principles, I might add—people would accept their robust agenda of cutting taxes and reversing the flow of time. But no. Everyone has to get their pantaloons in a buncherino over who’s going to die, what sexual orientations deserve legal rights, which countries colluded with the president’s campaign, et cetera. By “everyone,” I mean Republicans. Today is Friday, and even the conspirators are too divided to act. Won’t you vent your frustration with me?
One fun thing about the collapse of western civilization is that all our old favorites are coming back. New Robocop movie? Hell yeah! Return of rompers and bomber jackets? Yes please. Sudden ubiquity of retro celebrities such as Kardashians and Donald Trump? Um…okay, I guess. Crass materialism that gives way to old-time bigotry and increasingly anti-democratic struggle for control of the security state? Wait, stop—that’s too retro for me. Oh, you set everything in motion decades ago, and now we must numbly watch it all play out as the events of the path frog-march us into a terrifying future? Well, okay, since you worked on it. Today is Friday, and it’s hard to be nostalgic for a past that won’t leave. Won’t you greet the old favorites with me?
You know what the problem is with this country? No one has the courage of their convictions anymore. We’ve suffered a nationwide crisis of confidence, and now Americans are afraid to go their own way and live as devil-may-care visionaries. People are so concerned with fair play and rules of decorum that they aren’t willing to stand up for what they believe is right. We have all become hobbled by our sense of ethics and the way things ought to be done, afraid to act because we might be wrong. Also, the sun makes us colder each morning, and birds crawl silently along the ground. Today is Friday, and everyone in America is extraordinarily confident. Won’t you explore that classic mark of genius with me?
I interviewed Greg Gianforte in 2015, and he did not attempt any takedowns. He seemed friendly, if a little nervous. I saw no flash of the belligerence that would characterize his interactions with reporters over the next year and a half. While I disagreed with pretty much all of his political positions, he struck me as a decent person who genuinely wanted to help. Wednesday night, he made it impossible for me to keep thinking of him that way. In response to a question about the Congressional Budget Office score of the Republican health care plan, Gianforte attacked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, throwing him to the ground and punching him in the face. The next day, voters selected him to represent Montana in the US House. He spent election day completely incommunicado, refusing to address reporters directly or through his campaign spokesman. He didn’t come out of hiding until the results were in. I congratulate the soon-to-be Representative Gianforte on his victory. I welcome him to the office he won by outing himself as a self-pitying bully with neither adult judgment nor fixed principles, and I look forward to writing about him for the next two years. Today is Friday, and the people committed to winning at all costs have notched another victory. Won’t you survey the field with me?