Friday, 25 May 2007

MMMmmmm....the 1981 Budget.... just a way of getting your attention. I'm still on hiatus, the previous piece of utterly harmless nationalism notwithstanding (anyone who disagrees with it can fuck off to France). I still have no way to express my infantile rage or my more considered anger at the self-serving habits of _any_ tosser who comes anywhere near power.

As if to prove it, I've just passed a law which states: "The financial dealings of Mr T Drummer Esq (MA (Oxon)) are herewith and hereby to be kept from the prying eyes of all and any agents of the state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Hey, it's a piece of piss, this lawmaking business, eh?

By the way, the 1981 budget was fucking amazing. Firstly, the inestimable Geoffrey Howe raised taxes, and then....

(contd 2007AD*)

* turns out that "AD" is in fact offensive*: it is in fact, hencefuckingforth to be known as CE and BCE (for "Common Era" and "Before Common Era", what the fucking twatting makes it common is to be fucking well censored untill we're all parts of another fucking planet).

*it is in fact, furthermore, offensive to people who want to be offended, in the hope that it might, somehow end capitalist oppression of socialist academics, who have been under the yoke since...well, since they left Oxford anyway.


Not Saussure said...

I discover via the Wikipedia entry for Common Era that the term is older than one might imagine; they quote a reference from 1716. Certainly, the 1908 Catholic Encyclopaedia uses the term in its article on General Chronology: 'Foremost among these is that which is now adopted by all civilized peoples and known as the Christian, Vulgar, or Common Era, in the twentieth century of which we are now living.'

Apparently, too, it really got off the ground when the Chinese went over to our system of dating in the 1940s; I suppose it's reasonable enough for them to use 'Common Era' rather than AD and BC, but, not being Chinese, I don't see why I should follow their example.

If we're going down that route, I far prefer the term 'Vulgar Era' ('Vulgar' as in 'Vulgate,' it seems -- not that everyone understood Latin but that Latin was the language most likely to be understood wherever you were, which is why the Chinese are using the term).

The Tin Drummer said...

Yes...oddly enough, I noticed that HG Wells uses the phrase in his book "The Shape of Things to Come" in which, among other things, he appears to blame Poland for all the bad stuff.

My complaint is that in books, teaching materials, etc, it has silently supplanted BC and AD, which have been used for a thousand years in various forms; and children are not expected to know or to point out that we ever said anything else - a seamless, vanishing memory transition. For me, it's a standing rebuke to people who say that political correctness is just being polite.

Not Saussure said...

I agree, though I must say I'm equally impatient with people who say that politeness is just being politically correct!

Jeremy Jacobs said...

What's the difference between A.D. and A.L. ?

That should keep you busy for a bit.

The Tin Drummer said...

I had an interesting lecture years ago on the subject of politeness: she (for it was a female lecturer) insisted that politness was the art of deception, a language of concealment ideal for cynical restoration society; and that what we should be aiming for was courtesy, in which your outward actions more closely mirror your inward beliefs.

AL, Jeremy? Que?

Not Saussure said...

Took a bit of working out and checking with Google, but it seems to be about 4004 years difference.

Politeness/courtesy ... a bit a nice distinction, I think. And I'm not completely sure it works. It's a long time since I read Castiglione but I don't recall The Book Of The Courtier particularly recommending that your outward actions mirror your inward beliefs. Ideally, of course, if your inward beliefs are as they should be, you'll be naturally courteous, but, since that's not usually the case, you have to fake it, out of consideration for others and for social harmony (or that's vaguely what I think he was on about).

The Tin Drummer said...

Castiglione is extremely _boring_. I was thinking of a slightly more involved literary and moral system: basically courtesy is a medieval religious concept, in which you try to live by courteous ideals (ie the guy out of Gawain who goes up to the Green Knight to get his head cut off and the GK accuses him of cowardice for flinching in the face of death); whereas politeness (derived from the same root as politics) is about public appearance and is, therefore, more concerned with how you wish to project yourself, especially in a wholly cynical environment like Restoration London ("partake of country pleasures" or some such bullshit from the Country Wife).

Courteousness, on this reading, is a genuine ethical system, but politeness is a crock of lies ("Your servant, sir" = "you fucking bastard, fuck off") in a highly coded social discourse or summat. Politeness only contributes to social harmony in that people keep their blood-and literal-lust at bay for convenience's sake: with courtesy, you'd keep them at bay because it was right, not because it might cause a scene.

I don't know whether it works in real life: but it certainly works as a reading of literary values from say 1300-1700.

The Tin Drummer said...

Of course, it works the other way too: a courteous person might cause a scene because it was right - and I'm well aware of the "courtly" origin of this; but I still rate it as the instinct behind Gawain, bits of Canterbury Tales, even some of Piers Plowman (in a rarified religious sense).

Not Saussure said...

I don't see what you've got against politics -- from polis, the natural environment for man, according to Aristotle. I take that to mean city as distinct from family small-holding -- a lot of different individuals, all persuing their own, frequently conflicting, interests, trying to live in some form of community because, overall, that's mutually beneficial, despite the various disadvantages.

Don't knock people keeping their blood and other lusts at bay for convenience's sake; in my line of work, we deal the the consequences of their not so doing, and those aren't pleasant.

I do see what you mean, but, quite seriously, I rate anything that helps keep the peace. If more young men, in their cups, would say 'Your servant, sir,' and, turning contemptuously on their heel, stalk off, and if fewer were to say 'You fucking bastard, fuck off,' both the hospitals and the courts would be a lot less busy.

The Tin Drummer said...

Don't forget that I deal with these consequences too; and that of course anything which increases civility is a good thing in the real world: I was thinking ideally. A system in which you hold values and act them out, given that those values are informed by a desire to do what is right is better to me than one in which conversation and interaction generally is a series of deceptions, usually for social or financial gain.

Having said that I think it is better for two people engaged in a dispute or a conversation to be honest with each other, and tell each other to fuck off if necessary, rather than engage in mannered slaggings off which leave you not knowing whether your interlocutor hates your guts or likes you. For me.

But of course I agree with your last point: if people did live by a stratified system of discourse, we'd have emptier hospitals at least, compared with what we have now. I'm comparing it to the ideal of courtesy, with which politeness is cynical by comparison.

I am distrustful of politics (in the modern sense): I think most people who really want to do good do it, instead of feathering their own nest and getting off on making rules for other people. People can live in communities and rub along with the help of common values, as far as is possible: the contribution of the politicos is usually either negative or negligible. We try to live in communities with our conflicting interests because we are informed by basically good values (ie most of us want peace) not because we are told to by people who use it for the chance of self aggrandizement. In an ideal world, of course...I'd be with More: anyone who seeks public office is automatically debarred from it.