Meditation on the Life (and Death) of an American Monster

 Eric Yahnker,  Honorable Discharg e, 2015, pastel on paper, 48 x 48 in,  http://www.ericyahnker.com .

Eric Yahnker, Honorable Discharge, 2015, pastel on paper, 48 x 48 in, http://www.ericyahnker.com.

This is a breathing exercise. On every inhale, root yourself in the present state of our country, with the present feelings you harbor politically and emotionally.

On every exhale, imagine that the president has died.

Inhale

How resilient are we? That’s what we’re really testing right now as the political cabinets align like the cosmic order of Dante’s deepest dungeon. A perfect storm of blackmail, bigotry, and baseness brewing as we fight to hold onto law, journalism, and basic human decency.

Future generations will stigmatize the name Donald like Germans do Adolf. My ancestral bones shudder with the familiarity of what religious persecution feels like – not of our people this time, but an ancient Abrahamic brother. Who knew that gullible was so close to gestapo?

Exhale

His life will not be mourned. He will not be missed.  The natural and national response is relief after thrashing in the murky swamps beneath America’s rock bottom. An exhale. This is cause for celebration – not in the life led but the life We the People no longer have to endure. The national blood pressure has gone down.

Inhale

A hypersensitive molecule of a man. Senile. A negation of all human qualities. A glaring cancer we are all forced to deal with.

Someone just slip him some strong LSD already!

The most immediate dosage of compassion won’t solve all his problems, but it seems like a good place to start – possibly our best shot at having a president that thinks beyond himself.  

All the powers of the office stroking and coaxing an ego that must be its own internal version of a stock market bubble, as we anxiously wait and protest and pray that it bursts.

Or dies.

Exhale

What finally did it? Tough to say. Pressures of the job, the resistance, stroke, heart attack, narcissism, natural causes, poison, a secret service martyr, choking on a Dorito.

Oh the total relief at this long-awaited expiration date! A release from the alarms that have been blaring since election day – leaving us with a national hangover that conjured emotions last felt in the aftermath of 9/11. Those alarms have only grown louder and more cacophonous since inauguration.

Inhale

An aged fascist conducting witchhunt, after witch hunt until the formerly intact Highest Office in the Land has been reduced to a fragmented and mumbling soapbox – always in order to satisfy some selfishly warped and archaic desires.

Party lines have morphed into moral lines. We need to de-throne before the death toll starts. We need Twitter or the White House or his wife to cut off his tiny thumbs. If this is considered treasonous then we need to decide where we draw the lines around treason.

Exhale

He was a stain on our history. A skidmark on America’s underwear – not the ugliest, but the freshest and smelliest. Coming at a time where we should know better. A topic that everyone is thinking, talking, writing, and reading about that no one wants to continue doing. It is constant and oppressive and disheartening. Just go away and find your place on the list of human errors. Hopefully we are around long enough for the scars to heal.

Trail of Tears
Slavery
Jim Crow
Internment Camps
Donald Trump

The shame of America.

Inhale

So how resilient are we? This is a question we have tested throughout history – through plagues, world wars, and cold wars – through famine, fire, and genocide. As military might and catastrophic potential grows, as animals adapt to our shifting climate at a much more urgent rate than we do, as the planet we call home becomes less habitable and more volatile, I have to ask, Are We Going to Make It?

Exhale

The people have organized and rallied against him. He made us engage through opposition. Sometimes a negative force is the necessary catalyst to propel the apathetic into activist. The repudiation of our president has brought us together as a nation. His injustices have made our fights for justice stronger.

That’s as good as the legacy gets.

Inhale
Resist

Exhale
Relief

Inhale
Resist

Exhale
Restore

Inhale


Matt Goldberg is an artist living and working in San Francisco. His work is primarily sculptural and stems from a background in ceramics as well as reclaimed objects and materials. Matt received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Colorado. His work has been shown around the Bay Area and he has participated in residencies at Recology and the Palo Alto Art Center. Matt currently works as a ceramics instructor and an art teacher.