Sunday, February 28, 2010

Watch Your Language

"Words enter our vocabulary often acting like predators. They circle what we do with the capability of creating havoc. How often have I sat in meetings listening to someone use the word "transparency"? I've become suspicious of this term; as someone reminded me, transparency might be the beginning of totalitarianism. Words are luggage for our politics, and those of us who are writers have a special responsibility to prevent the erosion of their value and meaning. I want to compose poems with words that can wear pants and shirts without creases."
E. Ethelbert Miller


  1. In the world of economy we can look back on a period of psychologic language. But that is finished. Today we might notice a change to military vocabulary. It isn´t any more a question of “F├╝hrung” (leading) but “Aufstellung” (line-up). The german word implicits the picture of an army of tin soldiers. The general, overlooking the battlefield, asks his commanders: “Are we lined up appropriately to the enemy´s challenge?” That´s what you hear in the upper floor in the large conference room of the board of directors, the CEO asking his lieutenants.

  2. "transparency might be the beginning of totalitarianism"

    This is why Italians love a certain degree of lying and masking and need a minimum degree of chaos: to keep things small and to give other peoples the illusion to be superior.

    This is, why they do not trust experts and why the italian internet doesn't help against Italy's chaos, but has become the exact copy of the chaos one has to be familiar with in Italy's reality. This is why Berlusconi in Italy isn't as dangerous as he would be in Germany.

    Mussolini once said "It isn't difficult to govern Italy, but it is completely useless."

  3. Nothing is immune against abuse.

    Glasnost has become dangerous.

    No law on privacy can protect us against the determination of experts of snoopery and information tecnology, if we havn't very strong tribuni plebis.

    Remember always that the tribunus plebis was a venerable ancient figure which Cicero considered to be around 400 years old.

    German scholars of the 19. century - especially of the Bismarck time - have transformed the Ilias into an unwordly fairy tale, Caesar and Augustus into the savers of the republic, Spartacus into a criminal rioter to spit on and the dignified institution of the tribunus plebis into a dubious semicriminal union leader.

    But what the future needs is exactly this: 1. strong user unions which are able to controll information tecnocrats and 2. an open source based organism which controlls the unions.


    And if you love germanic history of the origins, reflect on the fact that "thing" once was the name of a meeting place where discussions and judgements took place. Completely different, but nevertheless the northern variant of what in Greece was called agora.