In his debates he looks almost bizarrely overconfident,brazenly recycling the same answers and obsessed with the populist mantra of 9-9-9- as if its a toll free number where you can order the godfather himself for home delivery. Its always ladies night at the godfather’s. But he does have a sense of humor in an imperfect/perfect nonsensical manner: ” there was a time in America when a man was a man, a horse was just a horse … unless he carried yellow flowers.” His western motif spattered “Yellow Flowers” commercial touched on all the key bases of American imagery: namely violence, male patriarchy, misogyny. The women in the ad are submissive, in fact they seem to be going to work in the frontier bordello.The ad is a scene from a film being shot, which makes it even more remarkable: political theater about political theater. Oh yes. The African American gets smashed out with a cheap shot. The whole scenario is just an eyelash away from Mel Brooks territory. The political game which is basically posturing, the Cain ad is the meta-posture.
Currier:Although the confidence man played a significant role in European history, he would ultimately take a stronger hold on the American imagination. “There is actually a peculiarly American delight in confidence tricksters,” wrote scholar Stephen Matterson on the novel. “In part such affection has to do with America’s emphasis on and admiration for individual enterprise and ingenuity, which are considered notably ‘Yankee’ qualities.” Since he flourishes best in a country where it is natural to trust people, he goes against the grain of liberal pieties such as Emerson’s claim that if you trust men, they’ll naturally be true to you. The confidence man’s role, as played out in Melville’s book, is much more adversarial, and he relies on our ability to be sharp and informed. He might also be the best argument against censorship in a democracy because one needs access to as much knowledge and information as possible to match him. Yet, conversely, we need him, too. We depend on his taunts to make us smarter, stronger, and to give us a sense of community. Read More:http://www.criticsatlarge.ca/2010/05/book-confidence-man.htmla
There has been some discussion, an attempt to frame the Cain phenomenon, as a kind of fellow traveler with Marcel Duchamp in the Dada movement. The sort of “culture jamming” disruptive dynamic. In a sense, yes. Cain’s representation of the world is beyond even a passing notion of the struggle for accuracy in representation. Still, there is a presentation of familiar appearances, some effort to establish memory even if it is caricatured and abnormal, but nonetheless a passing reference to American individualism, the loner etc. The again, the Cain campaign, such as it is, shows history, myth, candidates, supporters, ideas all as “ready-mades” transformed in ways out of their natural contexts in ways that are ridiculous and absurd; everything is imbued with a false dignity and status that ultimately changes the definition of politics.
The anti-aesthetic. The mysticism of the electoral machine and the mysticism of the electorate’s unconscious are the basis of Cain’s Dadaism. Will electoral surrealism appropriate and supplant it? The undercurrent is Can’s portrayal of almost nihilistic disgust with our post-modern world; the aggressive extremes realizing themselves by doing violence to it. There is a negation by disgust but simultaneously the Cain view is compromised by being in the grip of the materialism and barbarism of society. At its worst, Cain’s Dadaism is not a moral reaction against our destructive society, but rather, a tongue-in-cheek cleverness. Cutesy and cheeky. harmless. A bit fresh and a publicity ploy leading ultimately to the social conformity we expect from the GOP.
…But the con man’s game is also a humorous one. Absurdity plays a big hand in his success at turning the trick. He’s a leitmotif running through every facet of American culture. You can find him in various guises, ranging from carny barker P.T. Barnum to the infamous Louisiana governor Huey P. Long; he’s the boorish right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh as easily as he inhabits Limbaugh’s counterpart, that shambling snake-oil salesman of the left, Michael Moore. Confidence gets put to the test everywhere in the literature and films that both define and parody American culture. Read More:http://www.criticsatlarge.ca/2010/05/book-confidence-man.html
However, the artist who created the Dada art was very serious about his work.” Said Israeli painter Marcel Jenco, “We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished… At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short, the whole prevailing order.” …
…’What we call Dada is a piece of tomfoolery from the void,” Hugo Ball wrote, “in which all the lofty questions have become involved.” Said Richard Huelsenbeck, “Dada means nothing. We want to change the world with nothing.” Kurt Schwitters insisted that “we, members of the Dada movement, merely hold up a mirror to the times.” Jacob Bendien argued that “the Dadaist is serious enough to doubt his own seriousness, and to convince the viewer to doubt him as well… Dada has nothing against being outright bombastic.” And one oft-quoted Dadaist manifesto affirmed that “It’s not Dada that is nonsense–but the essence of our age that is nonsense.” Read More:http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/herman-cains-yellow-flowers-ad-is-a-dadaist-meta-western/247352/
…whole breadth of the street… was filled with the gentleman’s supporters, who clapped their hands in rhythm and kept proclaiming in a chanting cadence what seemed to be the gentleman’s… short but incomprehensible name. Single supporters… were carrying motor-car lamps of enormous power, which they slowly shone up and down the houses on both sides of the street…. On the balconies where supporters of the candidate were packed, the people joined in chanting his name, stretching their hands far over the railings and clapping with machinelike
regularity. On the opposition balconies… a howl of retaliation arose…. All the enemies of the… candidate united in a general cat-calling…. Here and there unrecognisable objects were being flung by particularly heated partisans… into the street,
where they provoked yells of rage (Kafka, Amerika ).
What begins as an orderly parade with the purpose of increasing popular support for a candidate hoping to be elected as district judge degenerates into a barbaric yawping match among political rivals. As the confusion exemplified by Kafka’s description of New York’s industrialized atmosphere transfers to this representation of a highly charged political rally, so too does his faultfinding commentary on America. Somewhat hyperbolic in nature, this passage in Kafka’s satiric writing even infuses into the verbal nature of contemporary political mudslinging the physical aspect of throwing objects at the candidate and his supporters. In doing so, Kafka manifests America’s political savagery and its lack of a civilized political system. “Kafka would seem to equate democracy with mob life, … giv[ing] intimation of the madness if not the barbarism, of all culture,” argues Doctorow. “[T]his is an American political rally seen, so to speak, from a European balcony” (Doctorow xvi). Moreover, Kafka amplifies his conception of the foolishness of Americans by later mentioning the “round of free drinks” (Kafka 253) that the candidate distributes to the already lively crowd as he delivers his speech.
As one can imagine, a drunken electorate holding a mob mentality will be influenced more by the alcohol than the candidate’s political platform. Kafka’s portrayal of the political rally thus makes a bitter farce of American democracy; true democracy based on merits cannot exist in his Amerika. The portrayal of certain aspects of America serves as only one of the two mechanisms that Kafka utilizes to disparage this nation of immigrants; the helplessness that Karl Rossman experiences on his road toward the American dream serves as the other. Each time that Karl
endeavors to climb up the social ladder or to assist his fellow companions, society negates his will and perverts his intentions, thereby making his own circumstances even worse than before. Read More:http://people.csail.mit.edu/edmond/writings/amerikan-dream.pdf