A New Era of Unreality: Stop Making Sense, or How to Write in the Age of Trump

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In the Village Voice, Aleksandar Hemon explores the “unreality” of a Trump presidency, likening this era of American history to the start of the war in Bosnia in 1992, and calling for new literature that doesn’t shy away from the conflicts and destruction ahead.

There is a certain kind of abdominal pain felt only when a catastrophe appears at the door of the world you know and proceeds to bang on it. The sensation could be likened to a steel ball grinding your intestines. There is nothing like it: There were times when I thought I could hear it revolve. The feeling is simultaneously familiar and totally unfamiliar; it is unquestionably familiar as boilerplate fear, intensified though it may be, but it is also unfamiliar in its specificity: It is the fear of an unimaginable future as seen from this particular terrifying moment. This is the feeling that possessed me during the time my daughter Isabel was sick and then died.

This is the kind of fear that woke up, stretched and elbowed for more room in my stomach on November 8, 2016, as it became increasingly clear that Donald fucking Trump would win the presidential election.

The morning of November 9 I woke up, after a short night of unsettling dreams, in a revengeful country of disgruntled racists, who elected the worst person in America as a gleeful punishment for whatever white grudges had been accumulated during the Obama years, or even during the decades before.

We become of two minds, which cannot agree on what is real. The world looks strange and unreliable, fragile and dangerous. It is itself and not itself. I am myself and someone else.

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