Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Explication de tweet: French 3320 (UT-Chattanooga) to the rescue

American citizens these days are being held under a cloud of continuous entertainment by their gameshow President, who regularly provides them with an amusing diversion via Twitter. "What can he possibly mean?" they ask. The real fun is trying to guess what the spun-cotton-candy official version will look like a couple of days after the original tweet.

Many people are saying that this has become a popular betting pastime, in some places with winnings so high it will qualify you for liberation from GOP-style subsidized healthcare (House version). Therefore, in the interest of providing you with a tool that could potentially lead to the glorious freedom of medical bankruptcy, I thought I would give you the benefit of my up-to-now-useless classes in French literature that I took in college. 

The classes taught a technique of textual explication called explication de texte, which translated means "textual explication" and which comes in handy whenever there's a text that needs explicating. Since Twitter is text, it's almost as if explication de texte showed up with a beguiling Gallic accent and a bottle of premier cru and started to sing "Plaisir d'Amour" and Twitter gave up all 140 characters quicker than you can say "French letter."

Explication basically dissects a short text and runs everything through a grammatical/lexicographical centrifuge, which sounds essentially destructive and violent, but at the end of it you're left with a dead frog in one piece in the middle of the road and you wonder how the hell that happened but you know for damn sure it'll work for figuring out Trump.

So here's the assignment for our foray into explication de texte

First, let's examine "Terrible!" A single-word sentence ending with an exclamation point, it is an obvious sarcastic truncation of "enfant terrible" and as such makes reference not only to the "Obama" that comes in the second sentence, but to the "McCarthyism!" ending the fourth sentence, since Trump was an intimate of Roy Cohn, who was considered Joe McCarthy's enfant terrible. The duality is linked by "Nothing" (that is, no Russians) "found," an ironic sneer meant to infantilize an inept Obama in contrast to Cohn, who--in this characterization--found Russians aplenty.

"Just found out" is a poetic reference to Faux and Friends, a well-known cartoon peopled by chicken littles who frequently report falling skies to the amusement of everyone. This is another deliberate use of irony that emphasizes the ridiculousness and fecklessness of "Obama." This meaning is underscored by "wires tapped" [quotation marks sic], which can be interpreted, "Look at me giving you these 'air quotes,' LOL! Who uses land lines anymore? Stupid Obama, that's who!"

"Trump Tower just before the victory" is the impregnable locus, the fortification of Trump's inner psyche. This is where no one can get to him, least of all that lightweight child "Obama." It is, as it were, his bunker, where he will go when all else fails and there are dead frogs in the street demanding health care for all.

So that's it. Now you can go out and bet the farm that the official version will be that Trump was just making fun of Obama and was just having a little innocent fun.

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