Thursday, 5 December 2013

Lies, Damn Lies, and Politicians. Also Foxes' Weddings..

I once heard Tony Blair say 'If you don't play good football...' (Portentous pause) '...You won't win.' Yes, really, I kid you not. Furthermore I think it's quite possible he believed (I nearly wrote 'honestly believed', then remembered I was writing about Tony Blair) he was saying something profound in a way simple people could understand. (Incidentally, exactly the opposite of what Jacques Lacan used to do.) Blair was, after all, a fool as well as a scoundrel.
Blair (I promise I won't mention him again) belonged to that large group of people who are paid large amounts of money to bamboozle the public. The obvious way to do this is simply to lie, though this can have disadvantages: one can be caught out in one's lie. Politicians have always lied of course, but at one time if one were caught out in one's lie one had to do the decent thing and resign. That is no longer the case, one now just brazens it out, but that needs effort and so a new type of bamboozelry has grown up,  helped by the public's increasing inability to understand long words. ('Pop-up' for 'temporary', 'scary' for 'frightening', 'High-Viz' for 'Fluorescent Waistcoat'). One now uses long words to say absolutely nothing. 'Government Spokesmen' have become adept at this: on VOA recently I heard a 'Government Spokesman' (Actually a woman; should that be 'Spokesperson'?) say 'We shall continue to monitor and assess the situation and consider appropriate action.' Gosh. Super. Thanks. This was probably a recorded message; I think the announcer simply presses a button, since of course the quoted expression can be used in any situation whatever or indeed none. Listeners will be 'reassured'; they have been told the 'authorities' 'have the situation in hand.' (Useful word, 'situation'. Useful because meaningless.)
What can we do about this? As always, what we can do is keep our wits about us, increase rather than decrease our vocabularies, not let ourselves be infantilized.
Here in the island, the weather has unexpectedly cleared up. Yesterday evening, just as the sun was going down it managed to peep under the far edge of the day-long cloud cover, so that for a few minutes, before it disappeared behind the hills of Skopelos, it bathed the woods of Kato Horafi in apocalyptic light; a beautiful phenomenon known as a 'Fox's Wedding'.

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