Recognizing Trump as pure Père Ubu, this blog in 2016 featured some posts imagining a new American version of Jarry’s great play whose main character is Trubu. Trump’s Grand Victory silenced UD‘s parodic energy, but the powerful reemergence – under impeachment pressure – of the man’s ubuesque character has me, if not penning an additional scene or two of Trubu Roi, at least turning to one of Ubu’s greatest perceivers, Roger Shattuck.
(A comment of Timothy Snyder’s on the Rachel Maddow Show had me thinking Trubu thoughts again; he described Trump’s “scorn for the idea of law… [For him,] there isn’t really law. It’s just a joke.” Instantly I pictured vile, hilarious, obscene Ubu rolling around the stage slashing and burning because everything except his power over other people is a joke.)
[Ubu is] the representative of primitive earthy conduct, unrelieved by any insight into his own monstrosity, uncontrollable as an elephant on the rampage… [M]ankind in the shape of Ubu dredges the depths of its nature…
Can we really laugh at Ubu, at his character? It is doubtful, for he lacks the necessary vulnerability, the vestiges of original sin. Not without dread, we mock, rather, his childish innocence and primitive soul and cannot harm him. He remains a threat because he can destroy at will, and the political horrors of the twentieth century make the lesson disturbingly real… Jarry’s humor [in the play] may be regarded as a psychological refusal to repress distasteful images. He laughed and invited us to laugh at Ubu’s most monstrous behavior, not because we are immune – we are, in fact, deathly afraid of the ‘truth’ of Ubu – but because it is a means of domesticating fear and pain… [Humor] demands that we reckon with the realities of human nature and the world without falling into grimness and despair.
In other words: