This weekend, as a fun byproduct of the most hyped book in recent years and the predictable meltdown it has triggered in the Oval Office, newspapers are reporting with titillated interest on Trump's claims to be a "very stable genius" and "like, really smart".
This, too, is old news. Trump has repeatedly, and with a Kurt Angle-style absence of irony or self-consciousness or doubt, insisted on his intelligence. And he's made it clear what he thinks intelligence is. Proof of being smart, for example, is tax avoidance, and profiting from economic collapse. IQ tests, he says, would confirm his self-belief. He is very, very smart. Trust him. He's smart. There's no problem there. A genius, actually. It's true, it's true. What is more, polls show that 55 per cent of the American public believe him.
Why do they believe him? Because in today's phallic chain-of-equivalents, being smart equals making a shit-ton of money and getting on television. The axiom is: be smart, make money, get famous. And it means doing these things with a Barnumesque cynicism, a perverse ability to have it both ways -- you love the audience, but they're also pathetic marks; you are a true believer, but you also see through the bullshit.
Hasn't Trump done these things? Hasn't he been on television, not once but many times? Hasn't he demonstrated his acumen by pointing his finger at people and saying, "you're fired"? Hasn't he demonstrated that type of cynical subjectivity? When asked about Putin's bloody record, didn't he say, a certain Capone-like bluntness, "you really think we're so innocent?" Aha, you see? Smart.
This is the idea of intelligence that a lot of young right-wing men entertain, in their disavowedly homoerotic worship of 'successful' older men. It reminds me of a young man I met at University who insisted, tapping his right temple with forefinger, that Mohammed Al-Fayed was a seriously smart guy because he tapped the phones of his subordinates. The intelligence that we are often so impressed by today is a certain facile capitalist instinct and organisation. A kind of ruthless will to exploit and dominate, a knack for self-publicity and bullshit. The ability to see through and dispense with inhibiting, and purportedly romantic and lazy-minded, moral or social claims. And a supposed masculine invulnerability in the face of sexuality and love -- don't waste time chasing pussy, make enough money and you can grab pussy at will. Why not? Don't be a stupid communist.
Sapiosexuality is, at least in this very masculinist declination, an auto-erotic orientation. It is away of, through identification, deriving erotic pleasure from one's own fetishised mental prowess. You're never turned on by what you imagine intelligence to be because you think you're stupid; you're turned on by it because it's just the right mirror for you. The sapiosexual's object-choice is always basically narcissistic.
And in that way, Trump is the ur-sapiosexual, the original and worst. He's also very, very smart.