It’s not surprising I’m drawn to these so-called landscapes by Shara Hughes. They remind me of Matthew Wong’s mysterious mindscapes and Odilon Redon’s poetic paintings, whose work I’ve shared on these pages as well. The real and surreal, the interior and exterior, the symbolic and psychological wrap around and feed each other. You enter places that feel real and dreamlike at the same time. Beautiful and disturbing, fluid and chaotic, lush and luminous.
Her current show “Time Lapsed” at the Kunstmuseum Luzern in Switzerland includes this statement about her work: “These fantasy landscapes satisfy our need for beauty on the one hand, but also arouse a slight uneasiness on the other. The nature depicted seems irrepressible and at times even threatening in its exuberant fullness. Shara Hughes’s landscapes are mood pictures that convey feelings, emotions, or memories.”
Perhaps that’s why they feel familiar, like some otherworldly place I’ve been before—evoking dreams, memories, emotions that wait just below the surface and lure me inward.
Forgive me for fantasizing. With so many Trump followers now calling for succession after their loss in the Supreme Court, I can’t help but wonder what a Trump Nation might be like.
What follows is a lazy Sunday afternoon fantasy of how such a horror could evolve and what a Trump Nation might look like, based on what Trump has already done or advocated.
So here’s how it happens: Trump and his cohorts of rebel militias threaten civil war. Riots break out, chaos reigns. To avoid further violence and outright war, the Biden administration agrees to allow up to 5 contiguous deep-red states to succeed, if their citizens so approve by a 75% majority. North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho vote to withdraw, and pressure Montana to do likewise.
But Trump isn’t satisfied. He wants Florida as well. To end the conflict for good, a compromise is made. Mara Lago and its surrounding golf course becomes a sovereign state within the state of Florida, like the Vatican in Italy— a retreat where Trump can rule in the winter months.
Half of the 7 million who voted for Trump in 2020 eagerly migrate to Trump Nation. New cities named after Trump, his family, and their Confederate forefathers, rise in once rural areas. Among them are Trumptopia, Barronapolis, New Melania, Stonewall, and Ft. Bragg.
Grateful Trump Faithfuls ecstatically pronounce him Supreme Leader for life and establish his progeny as legal heirs to that title. No Constitution is necessary, just as no Republican platform was needed in the 2020 election. All agree that Trump will rule with wisdom and courage to protect and bring prosperity to his people.
The individual States within this new nation will remain states in name only, governed by Trump appointees. A system of oligarchs will be set up to control industry and natural resources, as advised by Trump’s mentor and closest ally, Putin. Safety and environmental regulations are abolished. Industry will be regulated so as to maximize profits. Unions are outlawed, and the minimum wage abolished.
People of color are considered second-class citizens and and seen to be a dangerous threat to the nation. They are forced onto tribal lands where they can be isolated and controlled. Tribal leaders who cooperate are compensated. The others are threatened and penalized.
Michael Flynn is named General of the Armed Forces. Militias and their weaponry are drafted to serve under his command. Citizens are no longer allowed to own guns for fear they will fall into liberal rebel hands and be turned again Trump Faithfuls. A draft of all able-bodied citizens between the age of 17 and 25 is initiated to build Trump’s army, which, Trump proclaims to wide applause, will become the biggest and most powerful in the world. Military parades become wildly popular events. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 attend military summer camps to help prepare them to serve.
Although forbidden under the Succession Agreement, Trump enters into secret negotiations with Russia and North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons. When the USA learns of this, it threatens crippling sanctions on the new nation. But Trump is not deterred. While his citizenry will suffer, it will be for a noble cause, and the sanctions will not interfere with the Oligarchy’s lavish lifestyle.
Public education ends in the new nation, and for-profit education run by Betty De Vos takes its place. If citizens cannot afford tuition, they will be required to provide homeschooling for their children using a Trump-approved curriculum. History will be rewritten to favor and flatter Trump, his Confederate forefathers, and strong-men nations.
Free speech and the right to assemble are no more. Trump creates a law and order police state where criminals are not coddled. Suspects are considered guilty until proven innocent. Ted Cruz establishes a judicial system that rivals Russia’s. Prisons are run for profit, and inmates are charged for room and board which they must repay at labor camps.
The media and internet servers are now under government-control. Disinformation tactics are used to spread conspiracy theories that help to control the people by making them fearful of what is happening beyond their borders and grateful that they live in Trump Nation.
A border wall is built around the country to keep citizens safe from the outside world and keep defectors from leaving and spreading lies about life in Trump Nation.
Healthcare is run by pro-profit Health Networks, where people with pre-existing conditions pay dearly, abortions and birth-control are outlawed, and women who attempt to defy this law are sent to prison. Same-sex marriage is outlawed, and LBTQ communities are encouraged to go back into the closet because there are no protections for them under the law, physically or civilly.
Social Security is eliminated. Citizens are encouraged to work well into their senior years and then turn to their own families to take them in. Poor Farms and Debtor prisons will take up the slack.
Freedom of religion will end. Christianity becomes the state religion. A hierarchy of state-approved evangelical churches is established and run by Jerry Falwell and his wife. Trump is worshipped as the Savior of Christmas, the champion of Christianity, and the second-coming of Christ. His statue is displayed in every town center, and his image decorates the walls of all public buildings. His face is etched into Mount Rushmore, bigger and better than all the others.
In time Trump will feel restless and land-locked. He will covet the rich resources and harbors of Alaska and send his military to take it by force. The USA will stand strong and defeat him. His nuclear proliferation will be ended. New punishing sanctions will brought against him. His people will wake up from their fever-dream of Trump-worship. Realizing their mistake, with the help of the USA, they take up arms against him. Eventually Trump Nation is overthrown. The individual states that succeeded ask to be reunited with the United States of America, and we graciously allow it. Democracy reigns once again in the land of the free.
So goes my fantasy. What do you think? Any changes or additions you’d suggest?
BTW, that’s a real flag at the top of this post that you can buy on Amazon. Scary, huh?