I was particular interested in their discussion of language, kicked off by the poet who advocates "linguistic disobedience", which I think means resisting the way that language is used as a system of control' ie scepticism about words and control. It reminded me a bit of what I wrote yesterday about the Nazis' use of "compassion" in the early 20th century. We have not to collude when language is manipulated by those with power and influence. For example, government spokesmen construct the myths they want us to believe by their selection of terms - as the saying goes, one man's terrorist is someone else's freedom-fighter. Kinsella talked about writing a poem trying to prevent the death-sentence on an Australian in Singapore in which he stripped away the rhetoric and describe the event as it is: "the executioner will eat a meal before and after"; as he said, "Anyone who takes a life is a hypocrite." When meanings are hijacked, imperceptible control is exercised without our realising.
It's a technique I've come across among the campaigners for euthanasia. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society (whose purpose was what it said on the packet) rebranded itself, a few years ago, as Dignity in Dying, and took to talking about Assisted Dying rather than Suicide. There are four ways of dying: natural death, accidental death, being killed and killing oneself. There's also an attempt to hijack "compassion" to legitimise putting an end to someone's life prematurely. One needs to ask, "What's the agenda beneath replacing plain English with gobbledy-gook?"
Other interesting hijackings include "having a baby" and "marriage". Picture a couple. The wife discovers she's pregnant, "Honey, we're having a baby!" The politically correct man replies, "No, dear, you're carrying a foetus." And I guess 99% of the population would consider "marriage" to mean what it's always meant, the union of a man and woman for companionship, procreation and family life. But not for much longer. The meaning of the word is being manipulated to create a new myth.
I'm indebted to Paul Huxley for this sardonic comment on the official redefining of words.
"Square circles to become legal