Rereading the 1980 Harold Bloom book “The Meaning of the Second Coming” this week, I got the idea for a trimmed and updated adaptation. It focuses on the possibility of a third act in American history and which we are all running out of time for. My updated subtitle: “To the TED Conference and Beyond.” A special thanks to Neil Strauss for supplying research.
Bloom’s idea was a new model for our politics: a center-left media community. “Ideological isolation and grievance-based culture wars” were one step ahead of current approaches. “Fear of the other” meant that no one had been able to reach for common ground.
Now, I believe the previous dominance of the Center-Right had also become unwarranted. The Center-Left has found that the swamp is moving in its direction, mostly through fashion — the beauty of fashion is that it can transform. Even Trump. But the reality is different. “The solution is not leftism. The solution is not conservatism.” The problem is mainstream liberal conservatism.
An outline of the sequel: “From TED to Talibanistan” to “From MEOW to ISIS” to “From Malcolm X to Trump” to “From Mohandas K. Gandhi to Fox News” to “From Abbie Hoffman to white patriarchy to #MeToo” to “From the Birthers to Trump” to “From Glenn Beck to Trump and the Smart Set to Global Capitalism and Western Christianism” to “From Citizens United to super PACs to Trump.”
A bit more “event” strategy: I first imagined a fake TED talk, but if I wrote something witty and humorous, everyone would think it was true. Instead, it had to be inspired by Ted and his friends in the same way that Brexit inspired Trump. I made the TED crew a bunch of fictional Daily Show correspondents: Frederick Wright, Abbie Hoffman, Caroline June, Cynthia from Nelson Mandela’s White House years. I have practiced this bit at the annual DNC Correspondents Dinner in D.C. and now it is in my novel, which will be a prequel.
Think of it like “The Talk”: a bunch of “The Tumbles” (Woodlawn fans). It’s Hollywood, but in a safe, self-aware, easygoing neighborhood. Here is a list of titles: “Languages, Secrets, Bribes, Vexes” to “Super Democracy” to “Tech Gender Wars” to “Basic Human Needs Fairies” to “Divided by Honor” to “Spies” to “Purists” to “Edith Wharton” to “Anarchy” to “Dems” to “Agendas” to “They Think Stupid Thoughts and Feel Stupid” to “Mad Rush Limbaugh” to “Merrick Garland” to “Where the Soul of the Nation Is Lost” to “Zigging When It Should Be Zagging” to “The Benefits of Greenspanizing ” to “How Real Tories Know When to Say When” to “Pissing On Capitalism” to “Dead Again Before the Floor Kept Turning” to “The Inner Trauma of American Conservatives” to “Pissed Off Conservatives” to “Pissed Off Conservatives.”
If we are smart and can find a way to save our democracy, such a TED Talk will have a lot of life after it, something in demand not only by 50 year olds, but by people in their teens, 30s, 40s, and 50s as well. And, in fact, people under 30, in their teens are all, if anything, more of a part of it than we give them credit for.