I’m working on a translation of Nietzsche. That’s not a boast; it’s a confession. A bewildering cat, that Fred. Anyhow, it occurred to me, in the process of modernizing a particularly purple passage of old prose, that as our language evolves it often shapes itself to fit the conventions of influential speakers and then I thought of the current occupant of the White House. “Holy crap,” thought I. “What if this is the Age of Trumpese?”
Alarmed but intrigued, I considered how the D might rewrite some of the classics from past masters of our magnificent mother tongue.
Take Dickens: “It was the best of times – very great times; it was the worst of times – believe me.”
Or Meliville: “Call me, I don’t know, Ishmael, or whatever.”
Or (heavens forfend) Shakespeare: “So it’s like, to be, I guess, or like not to be, to just not even be, right?”
Taking my bemusement a step further, I thought to myself, “What if linguistic orthodoxy is just a whimsy? What if that neon bleating goat of a man were to render the best-selling book of all time in his idiomatic grunts, tangents and manglings?”
With my very sincere apologies to the faithful and traditional, I give you Genesis, Chapter 1, per the President of the Conflicted States of America.
1 So in the beginning, God, the big fella, he created the heavens and the earth, because that’s what he does. He creates things. At least he used to. Not a lot of creating going on anymore. We’re bringing creating back.
2 And like, you know how the earth is now, well back then it was all formless, and void and what I call ‘empty.’ And it was very dark. Very, very dark, because hey, no sun! Right? And god was just hanging around in space.
3 And then God said, I think you all know what he said, he said “Let there be light,” only he said it in Jewish, or maybe Arab, I’m not sure, but he said it. And wouldn’t you know it? There was light. I’m telling ya, this God guy, very great creator. Believe me.
4 So anyway, he saw that the light was good, and then he decided to separate light from dark, like when you do laundry, ya know? So you don’t get the lights and the darks mixed up. Or like public schools. Very important. Light and dark don’t go together. Don’t ask me; ask God. It’s his rule.
5 And so God called the light “day,” duh… and what did he call the dark?... “night.” You got it. So then there was night, and there was morning and that was the first day. Pretty impressive day. When God gets busy he gets stuff done.
6 But he wasn’t finished. Nooooo. God said, “Let there be a vault above the waters.” Now I know more about vaults than anybody. Trust me on this. If you’re gonna build a vault, you need lots of materials. And it’s not cheap. But if you build a vault above the ocean, what do you get? A sky, right? I’ve built more sky vaults and covered more oceans than God. He’s a good builder, but I know more about sky-building than anyone. Very good sky builder.
7 So God made the vault and separated the water under it from the sky above it. And it was so. Of course it was so, because God said it and when God says so – Bing! – it happens big league. Very strong leader, God.
8 Okay. So he calls the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning and that was the second day. That’s how easy it is, folks. You just make light and dark and water and sky and Bam! You’ve got yourself two days. I know how to do this.
9 But if you’re gonna have a planet, you can’t have it all wet, am I right? So God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” Now remember, God spoke a different language. That was very long ago. Lots of different languages back then. So that’s kind of what he said, but it was all goofy-sounding when he said it. If I said it, I’d just say, “Bing! Land.” Simple.
10 God called the dry ground “land,” and he called the water “seas.” What else would he call them? I mean, you’re not gonna call the land a sea, not if you’re God. And God saw that it was good. It’s very good, right, to have land? We like land. Land is our friend.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce plants, lots of them, with fruits and nuts and avocados and stuff.” And so that happened.
12 There were all sorts of plants, we’re talking about billions of plants, here. Tons of plants, and God saw that it was good. Which it was. We wouldn’t get along so well without plants. Need plants. We’re gonna take very good care of our plants.
13 And that was the third day. Think about that. Three days. No big deal, right?
14 So anyway, God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night,” and so on, so like, we know when it’s night time, or when it’s time to go to work or whatever,
15 “and let them be lights in the sky to give light on the earth,” which is obvious, when you think about it. I mean, where else are you gonna put lights. But God had to say it and so he did.
16 God made two great lights, very great lights. He called one the sun and he called the other one the moon, and he made stars, which are very small lights.
17 So he put them in the sky so the world wouldn’t be dark all the time,
18 and probably so he knew when to go to sleep. Cuz like even God sleeps. Very busy. Gets tired. Has to sleep.
19 And after that there was another night and then when it was morning, and whaddaya know? Bingo! Another day.
20 And God said, “I think we should have fish and birds too.” I like birds. Fish, not so much. But birds, very good. Birds fly. Except not penguins. Very dumb birds.
21 So God makes fish and birds, and probably whales, which aren’t really fish, but you get it. And that was good.
22 And God blessed them and told them to breed. No kidding. He told them to get busy making baby fish and birds and whales and squids. And we all know how that happens, right? Huh huh…
23 Whatever. That was the fifth day.
24 But God wasn’t done yet. No sir. He said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” See what I’m saying? Very good creator, but God talks too much. Just make animals already. So he did, eventually.
25 He made wild animals and cows and dogs and maybe bats, although maybe those are birds. But he made them. And it was pretty good, actually.
26 But it wasn’t quite good enough because there weren’t any people. Right? Like no people. None at all. Not like at the inauguration where there were millions of people, but like no people anywhere, like how California would be if we kicked out all the rapists and illegals. So God decided to make a man and to make him look just like himself. He had very good hair and big hands. And he put him in charge of all the animals and birds and fish and plants and stuff, and I don’t know, probably a bunch of things God didn’t even know about yet, like germs and yeast. Ever hear of yeast? Very important, yeast, and God didn’t say anything about it. I’ll tell you about yeast. It’s very important but it’s got to be controlled. That’s why man is in charge of it. I’ll keep an eye on yeast. Trust me.
27 So God made people. He made a man and woman. Notice he didn’t make any he-shes or queers or whatever. He made two people. He made a man, very strong, good man, Adam, and he made a woman. Eve. A good solid eight, maybe eight-and-a-half. Great legs on Eve. Kind of weak in the boob department, not so perfect in the face. But totally doable. And that was important because then,
28 God told them to make babies. “Be fruitful and increase in number;” How many people would there be today if Eve was a dog? Had to be hot, Eve. How else is Adam gonna be fruitful?
29 Then God said, “You get to have all this stuff I made, especially the plants. You can eat’em, cut’em down, make topiaries out of ‘em, whatever you want. They’re yours.
30 And the animals, too, and birds and whales and octopuses and fish and penguins and yeast, take it.”
31 Then God saw all the stuff he just made and he thought, “Hey, this is pretty good, if I do say so myself.” And that was the sixth day and he took the next day off. He earned it.