There are times when I must defy myself, or else strive to follow my own rules. My free-speech refusal to accept the banning of certain words has become a personal dilemma. The abuse of language somehow cries out for a defense, of some sort, and yet . . . the goddess Patience informs me that The Language will take care of itself.
I can lack patience, at times. I attempt to be Penelope at her loom, but, once too often, I must tear out stitches that were poorly sewn because of a tiff over the latest deformation of language.
Oh, well. Penelope had to painstakingly unravel each night the wondrous work she’d just woven during that day, thereby never completing her shroud. The unfinished piece of work was the point. I, personally, and professionally, would like to put an end to all of the caterwauling of grief over the death of language, the death of journalism, the death of culture, the death of civility — the death of everything! — in America.
It is time to wake up from this endless wake for America!
Just like the placement of hardcover books on shelves to form the Credible Background of your Zoom meeting, or podcast or photo-op, in order to prove you’re a well-read and erudite INTELLECTUAL, the use of verbiage as a means of snooty intimidation has grown to farcical levels in this country. Perhaps, instead of word-banning, there ought to be a 2-week waiting period before any idiot at a microphone spews the latest memo-approved focus-grouped term that tries to sway public opinion, and succeeds only in damaging the innocence of “said” word.
Americans are an impatient lot, however, and so I’ll try to be a bit more Continental about this language dilemma. I’ve watched the Europeans, and even the Brits, assume the patience of saints! Article 50 has taken almost as long as Hadrian’s Wall to become reality.
About a decade ago, Dear Daughter used to delight at the beginning of the New Year in what had nearly become a family tradition: reading aloud the latest list of banned words, as compiled by Lake Superior State University in the upper peninsula of northern Michigan (a region known for libertarian views). It was a lark that she enjoyed, reading, in her patented deadpan tone, each monotonously over-used word, phrase, or acronym, especially as mis-used or tortured and deformed by the Media.
Back then, round about 2009, life seemed so much more simple, even if we, in America, still did not know precisely why things didn’t change much, no matter who was voted in or out, with or without hope or change. It was a phase of living in a free land that felt less free, and I, for one, did my best to ignore the ranting and raving and intrusions of digital-ese into life. I went on a media blackout that, with historic exceptions for historic events, remains pretty much in place.
To assist in keeping Mom on an even keel, Dear Daughter banned me from “going to” certain online websites. One was called The Consumerist. For some reason, I accepted her protective dictate, and never questioned her as to what was there to see that I ought not see, but she could. I surmised that this shy but curious teenager scrutinized that site to try to figure out the flat-lined economy and the absence of quality clothes in her life. I did not venture to that site until this past year, when I saw that it had closed down — we gotta a real job now!
The list of banned words is probably still around. I do not try to Duck-Duck it. Lately, I use the laptop primarily for translation work, routine bath & body buys, and the occasional purchase that I’ve waited years, if not decades, to discover. The Colonel, Colonel Littleton, is my latest find. A company of leather goods Made in the USA that re-defined my idea of Made in the USA!!
There are no banned words on that retail site, although there is a sense of banned phases of life that the Colonel long ago decided were useless.
Use, and uselessness, production for use, useful production: they are all subjective terms. A person is not a commodity to be used, but the modern corporation, of the last few decades, became a force for ill will in the world. The global economy has been with us since Columbus sailed that ocean blue in 1492, so the concept of a world-wide market is not the underlying motive for human beings having become slave labor.
The worker in America, somewhere along the way, got shafted by the people pledged to protect him and her. The worker, in Europe, got sold out to the EU pinheads. The worker in China was born to feed the Communist beast. Everywhere else, labor takes place, in varying degrees, for the benefit of the capitalist.
The individual gets left out of the production for purpose program. Work in itself thereby loses its most significant meaning and aspects:
A good day’s work is a wonderful feeling. A good day is a blessing. The ability to work is, in itself, wondrous and inspirational. The actual act of labor is ennobling.
One expression that I would ban is “human resources”, largely because it is a de-humanizing use of words. I do not, however, believe in language censorship by anyone but yourself, and that self-editing is best done out of kindness, compassion and forbearance.
Tonight, I worked on some translation of a few pages of the wall-to-wall text of Chapter 84 of THE DAWN into L’AUBE. The previous pages detailed the Milice, the thugs used by the crumbling dictator state of Vichy to hunt down and kill resisters, and French workers who refused to work for Nazi Germany. That enemy-occupied nation of France had descended into the type of repression of speech, and thought, and feeling that created cities where people hid behind lined curtains in their parlors, and underneath covers in their beds — during the daytime.
I thought of the metropolitan areas in America, and I understood the chaos of powerlessness that presently threatens life, law, order, democracy and free speech in this land. And I prayed that the ignorant power-mongers do not degenerate even further into their pit of depravity, mimicking the very man they call others: Adolf Hitler.
About 30 years ago, I wrote an article that I gave to a friend to read. After reading it, he asked if I’d written it. I was, of course, insulted, but I assured him those thoughts and words were mine. Quite sadly, he said this writing was the best he’d ever read of my work, and he’d read quite a few short stories and articles. He suggested that I save it for those novels I was one day going to write.
I don’t have those pages anyone, but I do recall bits and pieces of their content. I was describing a ride I took on the laughable “Light Rail” into Sacramento from Roseville, CA. There were several noisy children racing through the train car, and no one seemed to want to either claim them or stop them or reprimand them. I’d written that the world was becoming one for the worker, one for the slave.
As I translated these paragraphs of my novel, I realized how some of that train ride narration became fictional narration for my novel. And I determined that the banning of any word only makes it more powerful. My personal dilemma is thus solved!
Below are the inspirational paragraphs:
D’ici l’été de 1942, les Allemands commencèrent à se sentir le pincement d'entretenir la forteresse de l’Europe allemande et de combattre la guerre à deux fronts. Assurer l’exploitation de leurs usine de guerre étaient devenu de plus en plus difficile. La réponse allemande fut simplement exploiter la masculinité et la main d’œuvre pour lesquelles ils avaient conquiert l’Europe. Herr Hitler avait déclaré d’un ton sinistre et maladroit qu’il y aurait « herrschende Klasse », la classe régnante. Il prédit qu’il existerait aussi, au-dessous de toutes les autres couches de la société allemande, « la classe des races étrangères du sujet ; nous ne devons pas hésiter les appeler la classe moderne d’esclaves ».
Il se peut que pour Petain la France fût encore intacte, mais ce pays avait été laissée intacte physiquement par les Allemands seulement pour les buts de piller les industries et du travail forcé. Les Français seraient les prochains gens dans la queue pour faire la corvée pour Allemagne. Nous ne devons pas hésiter les appeler esclaves. Les travailleurs français furent un des initiaux produits de base exploités par le Troisième Reich. Le travail, la portion des actifs humains de l’équation de conquête, avait toujours été la ressource la plus préférée par les nazis pour abus. La productivité et la fierté du travailleur français furent maintenant manipulées à sa détriment désespéré.
By the summer of 1942, the Germans began to feel the pinch of maintaining the fortress of German Europe and fighting the war on two fronts. Ensuring the operation of their war factories had become increasingly difficult. The German response was simply to exploit the manhood and manpower for which they had conquered Europe. Herr Hitler had declared in a sinister and clumsy tone that there would be "herrschende Klasse", the ruling class. He predicted that there would also exist, below all other strata of German society, "the class of the foreign races of the subject; we should not hesitate to call them the modern class of slaves."
It may be that for Petain France was still intact, but this country had been left physically intact by the Germans only for the purposes of looting industries and forced labor. The French would be the next people in line to do the drudgery for Germany. We should not hesitate to call them slaves. French workers were one of the initial commodities exploited by the Third Reich. Labor, the human assets portion of the conquest equation, had always been the Nazis' most preferred resource for abuse. The productivity and pride of the French worker were now manipulated to his desperate detriment.