Language. Last night I went along to a jazz session. I should have begun to suspect foul play
from two clues. One, the venue was called the Poetry Place. Two, there was no jazz. There was a little light
folk music, pleasant sound, so we ventured down the wooden stairs. We thought, let's have a look,
we can sneak off again if it's not our scene.
Then we realised we had come unawares into a poetry reading. Let's run! Too late... I stepped on a creaky stair.
Everyone turned with a single malevolent stare.
We had woken the poetocracy in its lair. Now there was no choice but to sit quietly and
try to survive two hours of personal bad verse.
Their idea of good writing was to string words along in a row hoping for some clever connection
between them. We were to know that this was Poetry and not just Random Words by the way
they recited: Every. Word. Was. Given. Equal. Emphasis. So that we
knew how Important it all was. With occasional pauses. That cropped
up. Seemingly for. No. Good. Reason.
Self-Important Capitals swam in mush once more.
And when the poet felt his line was particularly clever he'd add a little lilt to his voice.
"and that's when I stared into the eye of the stag!"The poetocracy
burst into enormous guffaws at the jollity of this uproarious wit. The rest of us stared.
We didn't dare raise our voice against the poetocracy.
They owned the language in that place. Our external opinions rating them good, bad or dull
simply did not exist. They own the language. All decisions are theirs.
Winning the Peace
The spring sunlight glows on the water, here, today, on the eve of the war.
I sometimes wish I could be
part of the anti-war movement, to be morally inassailable, but that
was not possible. It might have been comforting. And it was almost frightening in the days
after the great anti-war marches, not to be part of it, when everyone I knew asked, 'Was I at the march?'
The march for peace had almost become a lynch mob. But I didn't agree, that was all. I had decided the anti-war answer was too
simple. No action? Under any circumstances?
I can't accept simple answers. There's no such easy way out. I must make a cold-blooded
decision on all the facts available to me. But there's the problem.
In such a delicate, complex international situation, I can never have all
the necessary facts to reach an independent assessment. The western governments put forward compelling arguments
that can't be dismissed. Yet they want to take a terrible risk. We elected these men and women as the best able to lead us,
and in the end, the decision will be taken by them. I hope our trust is not misplaced.
The threat of nuclear war lay like a drowsing beast just out of sight throughout my teenage years. After a brief
respite, the threat of nuclear terrorism will now dog us until I am old.
Something within reacts with horror at such calculations, at such an easy trade
in human lives. Other peoples' lives. Truman dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima as he calculated he would kill thousands to
save millions. But he was neither the one
vaporised nor the one saved.
You must form your own opinions, and have your thoughts for your own, or else
be a slave. It is no better to follow a mob without question than a government.
Cut away the bullshit and nonsense and managerial double talk to find the
language beneath and then decide.
Or else define the shape to go forward on.
Find the category to be crushed into. And it is slavery.