This post was originally published on the Forget the Box news collective website on August 14th 2011.
Zaum (Russian: заумь) is a word used to describe the linguistic experiments in sound symbolism and language creation of Russian Futurist poets such as Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksei Kruchenykh.
Coined by Kruchenykh in 1913, the word zaum is made up of the Russian prefix за “beyond, behind” and noun ум “the mind, nous” and has been translated as “transreason” or “beyonsense” (Paul Schmidt). According to scholar Gerald Janecek, zaum can be defined as experimental poetic language characterized by indeterminacy in meaning.
Have you considered the Tory Omnibus Crime Bill?
It’s not exactly light bedtime reading, but it’s worth knowing about. It is above and beyond all else a testament to absurdity. It is absurd yet delivered in such a fashion so as to seem sensible. It is irrational, illogical and yet is designed to seem appropriate. It succeeds because the intended audience is often so incredibly uncritical, of their actions inasmuch as those of government, that they will believe known falsehoods simply because it takes less mental effort than to formulate even a basic critical response. There are almost no catchphrases associated with stereotypical ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation that aren’t also extremely voter-friendly. There is a language that feeds on base emotions and propels mass-delusion because we fail to be critical of what makes us feel good. And it feels good to ‘go with your gut’ – it’s easier, it’s less painful than using your head and thinking things through, forming a cohesive independent opinion and then acting on it.
There is a cancer eating away at the foundations of my nation. It is commonly referred to as Conservatism. Some distinguish it as neo-Conservatism. I can only describe it as discouraging, designed to deceive and dissuade me. I find it despicable – even the name is a lie.
I had a pleasant email exchange recently with a lawyer and one-time president of a Progressive Conservative riding association. He had written an editorial criticizing Stephen Harper’s ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation as idiotic to the point of absurdity. When you look at the details of Harper’s plan and compare them to the statistics and expert opinions of the crime, corrections and rehabilitation establishment, frankly, you begin to get suspicious and ask yourself just exactly what is so conservative about spending inordinate sums on new prisons? Unfortunately, Harper seems to be planning on filling them with non-violent drug offenders. Great. The complete and total opposite of what we were so successfully doing before. A nation once well respected for its innovative rehabilitation techniques and extremely low general crime rate and suddenly, the Tories are trying to scare up a Willie Horton poltergeist in every suburban bungalow’s backyard. It’s sickening.
This is our political reality. There’s nothing conservative about Conservatism anymore – the entire morally bankrupt ideology is based on nothing more than fraud. Perpetrating it, covering it up, arguing against it while lobbying in its favour. The masters of deceit work tirelessly, carefully manipulating the electorate into voting for their own bondage. It’s sickening.
An unencumbered buffoon, a madman in everyman’s clothing, Rob “a-tumor-in-his-own-right” Ford, has taken the reigns of Toronto City Hall and hosts elaborate dinners behind Bridal Path gates for the new oligarchs. Harper makes a ‘guest-appearance’, an old fishing buddy stopping by to wish him well. This saccharine display was a brilliantly devised piece of corporate theatre right out of a Mulroney-era playbook. It’s sickening.
They talked about legacy. They’re gearing up for the Ontario provincial election, which may end-up going in favour of the Tories, giving them what they’ve been dreaming about for some time. In their eyes they have visions of Tory Blue in the most populous city and province, streamlined with the centre of the nation. We’ll be governed by a vertically integrated Conservative/Corporatist oligarchy. We’re fucked, and it’s sickening.
And it’s not over yet. The man who made me believe once again that Canada was still a truly progressive nation at heart doesn’t look like he’s going to make it to see 2012. The last time I saw him he was fine. Now you can see it in his face – he’s very sick.
I’m starting to feel sick myself. I’m sick of the noise; sick of the fact that I’m constantly being lied to and manipulated by forces beyond my control. I’m sick of seeing the criminal-elites walking free in the streets while the poor and the damned are worked to death on factory floors and chain gangs. And the powers-at-be have no problem waging their war against the poor. They’re winning and they know it.
So then what are the People to do? And from where do we start?
I think it is time for a new Republic, as Plato described it. And for efficiency’s sake, why not start this Republic in Montreal. I am not advocating for any political separation, nor the creation of any new territories nor flags, I am suggesting, however, on a new frame of mind. A republic of mind and spirit; a republic of knowledge and facts. How we choose to conduct ourselves here in Montreal, how we organize our city and society may one day shake the very core of the Canadian Consciousness. And we are already so much further ahead then the rest of the major cities ion this country, you may ask yourself if we’re not already republican in social demeanor and political disposition.
We know full well we conduct ourselves differently here. Whether Francophone, Anglophone or Allophone, your worldview as a Montrealer is very different from elsewhere in Canada – we look out and beyond, we are international. And everyone knows we live in a perfect little bubble here, where individuals live lifestyles of excessive freedom. Mind you, it didn’t seem excessive a decade ago, but such is life – in cities around the world right now, citizens are fighting and dying in the streets as chaos descends all around. We don’t have to deal with this, partially because we’ve already dealt with it and have found a kind of social equilibrium, one that seems to permit a relative degree of individual sovereignty for our citizens. We need to ensure this doesn’t change – Montreal must be the bastion of social-democracy in Canada.
If we choose to do so, we will position ourselves against a growing tide of fraudulent conservatism. And if we are determined enough we can successfully build a bulwark against this tide, and demonstrate our abilities to our cousins at home and brothers abroad.
The idea of the Cosmopolitan Metropolis can be the reality of living in our city, and in many ways I think we know it already is. But moving forward, with this mentality established, how will we further our progressive agenda? A city such as ours is an important microcosm of the global power, whether a country or corporation, cities are large enough to compete, large enough to lead. If we declare ourselves to be this bastion, if we declare our intent to lead with reason and decide with logic, will we not grow by attracting citizens from near and far to join us in achieving our goal? Just how exactly are great cities made anyways?
I’ll end on a point about a conversation, had yesterday with a good friend. He had told me about a recent comment made by that insufferable idiot John Boehner. Boehner said he wanted to “go to DC and clean-up the alphabet soup…” referring to the Tea Party plan to scrap a multitude of government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Securities and exchange Commission (SEC). Now, aside from the fact that the statement was absurd and a god-awful attempt at a metaphor, the point remains that it is exactly the kind of corporate newspeak drivel that the voters eat up – the statement sounds good. It doesn’t make sense, but it sounds like the kind of catchphrase a seasoned insider might use. This corruption of language, so intractably Conservative in nature, is spreading like an epidemic. If all political discourse is locked into this dialect, then the Great Conversation is dead. We owe it to ourselves to ensure this demise never occurs, and thus we must start on the small end of the big-league spectrum. Consider a city run by reason, immune to the corruption of the mind that has overtaken our civilization; our society’s survival depends on a newly awakened citizenry.