Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Co-Opting

Calling me early in the morning, my mother is excited, enthused and troubled all at the same time. She vocalises a half dozen idioms about striking while the iron is hot, having a bird in hand, making a stitch in time and the hay while the sun shines. She cries something about the amazing turn of events that have swept the talking points of the tiny nation.
"Quickly," is her urging, "Quickly you must write some politically-minded material! Post it all over your blog! The time is ripe, it is oh so ripe! Post something that attacks this-that policy! Say something about the non-democratic nature of the government! You study this political science stuff, you'll think of something! Write! Write away! Write like the wind my son!"
She rambles loud and long and keeps telling me to write something political, and it will only be when she takes a breath that I can edge a word in: "Why this turnabout, oh mother of mine? Wherefore comes this change of heart/mind and worldview? You once discouraged every single political idea of mine, and now you encourage? Why?"
"My son my son," she speedily counters, "do you not read the newspapers? Do you not see that the Gayle-girl has become an overnight celebrity? There are rumours abroad that soon she will be taken up into the whirlwind of the establishment, to a high-paying job and a scholarship or somesuch great reward! She has challenged the establishment and the establishment has gallantly come back with a co-opting! Imagine, my son, a co-opting! A chance to join the establishment by espousing anti-establishment views! Fate would not be so kind! Oh opportunity of opportunities! Oh chance of all second-chances! Now you can upgrade yourself to superscales beyond the known alphabet! Now you can pay for that home that I can live in with you and your wife and your dog and yet there will be privacy and peace! Now you can pay for a real car, and not some weekend dalliance that restricts your every move! A promotion, oh sweet promotion! Write my son, write! Write in hope that they will see your criticism and smile upon you, sending the chariot of fire in your direction and catching you up in the wind of the heavens!"
"But mother," say I, "all my adult life [cueing a single bold tear down one cheek] I thought you had wanted my silence, my inaction, my apathy! And this transformation - this smacks of nothing but cold and calculative opportunism! I will come across as believing in absolutely nothing! I will come across as the shameful fair-weathered thinker, picking-choosing the opinions that suit the winds, playing to them for profit! There is no pleasure in that! There is no honour, oh mother! No honour at all!"
Silence on the end of the phone - she is thinking to herself about my sudden objection to her value system. A gulf between generations. A strange and unexpected think-for-himself moment. What would she say?
"My son my son, you decide what you want - whether you want to cling on to some silly thing called consistency in eyes of man and wider society or not. But you just remember that at heart you are still constant: you care for your family and that has never changed! Because you care for your family, you WILL do THIS to get a call up to a higher level of the establishment! Do so, my son! Do it, and you know that it is LOVE! Do it NOW and we will know that you love us all even more! Do it, and you shall be my one true son!"


Blogger whataloadofbull said...

Mysteriously, a post disappears! Alas, censorship prevails!

1:23 AM  
Blogger thesoupnazi said...


3:43 AM  
Blogger gayle said...

it's called streamlining, not censorship!

4:51 PM  
Blogger thesoupnazi said...

this boy soooo obedient.

4:23 AM  
Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

How exceedingly witty. Somehow the mother reminds me of Mrs. Bennet, except replace the fanaticism with marriage with a cynical pragmatism.

There could be two intepretations of this: reflecting the people who suddenly start writing with ungenuine (or hackneyed) sentiment because of the recent fame in the press.

The second mocking the original group of writers who somehow think that they might have a chance. (I fall into that category, oh dear.)

4:18 PM  
Blogger Evianically said...

please tell me you are not another acjc student......

9:07 AM  
Blogger bastard said...

steamlining, censorship, what's the difference!

freedom is a construct.

much like chicken.

1:08 PM  
Blogger slacker said...

to what extent will people do what they never thought of to "gain fame and fortune", "better their lives", and "enrich those of others around them"?

i think that's essentially what the writer means to say

4:49 AM  
Blogger M said...


7:15 AM  
Blogger bastard said...

dude! she called you hot!

congrats! even intellectuals can be sexy online.

9:55 AM  

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