Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, February 25, 2011

On the language of repression

I'm currently reading Rysczard Kapuscinski's Shah of Shahs, which as an elliptical account of the fall of Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi, has some eerie parallels with what's going on in Libya at the moment.

I recommend you read it too, not least because it has some gruesome detail on how the Shah's secret police, the Savak, operated. And one of their tools was close attention to language:

Experience had taught [people] to avoid uttering such terms as oppressiveness, darkness, burden, abyss, collapse, quagmire, putrefaction, cage, bars, chain, gag, truncheon, boot, claptrap, screw, pocket, paw, madness, and expressions like lie down, lie flat, spreadeagle, fall on your face, wither away, gotten flabby, go blind, go deaf, wallow in it, something's out of kilter, something's wrong, all screwed up, something's got to give - because all of them, these nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, could hide allusions to the Shah's regime, and thus formed a connotative minefield where you could get blown to bits with one slip of the tongue.

Could you live in a world like that?



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