In my Chosen Words post from earlier this week (3/16) on the difficulty of writing about what the conspirators in the Imogen Trager books want, I said, “the bright line between fact and fiction, party and faction, virtue and vice is growing dim.”
In the name of verisimilitude (and telling a good story), I’ve been struggling to get right the atmospherics of our time; to isolate and describe the tactics and threat posed by reactionaries. I wonder at how close I seem to be coming. In that same post, I noted the novels are “about Power,” and that where there is no law, there’s only power.
Today, two front page articles in the NY Times discuss both of my major themes:
How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions
“Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.” (Christopher Wylie)
Trump and the Truth: A President Tests His Own Credibility
“Advisors say privately that Mr. Trump may not always be precise but is speaking to a larger truth that many Americans understand….To them, the particular facts do not matter as much as this deeper truth.”
This is post-modernist bilge, of a kind rightly derided on the left and right. When the rule of law is nakedly abandoned, when all facts are dismissed as subjective—as having an agenda—when truth is “provisional,” when learning and expertise are assaulted, we’re left with Power as the only true north; and power does not seek the best and brightest, nor the good to its cause; but rather the chancers, hucksters, opportunists, nihilists. Corruption is their by-word. They leave destruction, misery (and in my books, death) in their wake.
It’s not that I’m reading the newspapers and—collage-style—cobbling together a plausible, dystopian thriller series. Our current state has been years—and millions of dollars!—in the making. The Imogen Trager series has likewise been growing (albeit with a fraction of the monetary support).
I wrote the rough draft of Faithless Elector in 2000. It had been knocking around in my head for some years prior to that, but the Bush-Gore election demonstrated how finely poised our democracy had become. Subsequent national elections continue to expose the problems of the Electoral College.
Since then, the threat from reactionaries has grown and has proved to be all-too real. I followed up Faithless with Dark Network (conceived in 2015-16), about, among other things, problems at the FBI. I’m generally worried about what I’ll inadvertently get right with this last book.