Language, Language

On the radio this morning the presenter introduced his next guest by telling us her name and job, and her job was Curator of several royal palaces in the UK. “She is responsible for A, B and C royal palaces,” he told us.

It was the use of the word ‘responsible’ that made me sit up and listen. I instantly thought, ‘Responsible my a–e!’. In my experience the higher up the hierarchy you go the less ‘taking responsibility’ you find. What do the ‘lower orders’ exist for if not to relieve those above them of all blame or responsibility for anything?

The world has become darker, heavier, more serious and more gullible than it was when I was in frocks and short socks. It seems impossible now that such insightful and excellent, myth-dispelling films as the excellent ‘Kelly’s Hero’s’, ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’, ‘The Life of Brian’, and ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ could be made, and that is to the detriment of us all, in my opinion.

I particularly love the solution to war the Kelly’s Hero’s has to offer: the ordinary soldiers on both sides get together to take advantage of what the war has to offer, in the case of the film, the opportunity to carry out a bank heist with shares of the gold equally distributed. This to me shows a highly commendable, wise and healthy attitude to authority: essentially it recognises that everyone, including, or one might even say, especially those at the top (in the case of the film, generals, field-marshals and the like.) are out to look after themselves. Under such circumstances, in any job, or other, situation one’s priority should be to look after oneself. So you need to keep your job, perhaps, but there are ways of doing that without actually having to stick to the letter of the law as laid down by the boss. Learning to run rings around the boss can be fun, and the whole job thing lightens up. You have to learn to keep your wits about you, to be creative, to be able to spot opportunities etc etc, so you can look on it also as excellent personal-development.

To write synopsis of the films I have mentioned would make this post too long, and I’m sure anyone who is interested and has not seen the films will be able to find summaries elsewhere on the Internet – oh, the wonder of the thing – how did we ever manage without it?

Anyway, the significant thing about these films is the attitude. I know there are films around today that attack those at the top, but back then these people, and people in general, were represented as buffoons, fools, clowns, as puffed up idiots who were not half so competent/able/dangerous as they would have others believe. And if that was the truth about people then, it’s twice as much the truth about them now! And the important thing is this: that if you take people seriously and at their own evaluation they can do you a lot more harm than if you see them as comical, puffed-up posers – behind your hand, that is, not to their faces.

So, back to where I came in, which was with the use of such words as ‘responsible’. This is a form of subtle brain-washing. It is the strategy of advertisers. By constantly using words like ‘responsible’ in association with those at the top the association gets into people’s minds and before long, people are believing the advertising – OK, there is still some common-sense around, but it is slowly draining away. In general, those at the top are estimated much more highly today than they were in the middle of last century.

The matter is not trivial, I think. It is a matter of communication. Essentially, to use those words is to lie. If you communicate properly with other people it is a very enriching, mind-expanding experience. But if you replace proper communication with lying and advertising and other ‘game –strategies’ then you are cutting yourself off from other people; you are creating small, closed, lonely little mind-space for yourself; you are stopping your mind from developing – that is a sort of death.

unless you’re the president of the US or the prime minister, because then you’re blamed for everything

I know the US president likes to have a notice on his desk which reads: The buck stops here. But you’d have to be a mug to believe that. Actually, Adolf Hitler was the last head of state to actually take responsibility for his failure by doing the decent thing and committing suicide. Pity there weren’t a few more like him!

Sorry to derail, but I just saw your Av/Sig, that’s hilarious!

I also have to apologise in that I find the OP compelling because mangling language is so common these days, but all I thought of was this:


I don’t really get your problem. Curating is a job which involves a level of responsibility. Do you have any evidence that she frequently shirks her responsibilities? Or is this just something you believe without evidence?

Also, I don’t get your link to comedies. This was not a comedy show (presumably) but an interview show. Interview shows fifty years ago would have been equally prone to talking up their guests.

The modern world is obsessed with attacking the perceived ‘elite’ on every front. Every newspaper has a field day when they find some example of some top member or group of society doing something underhand. The streets have been flooded with anti-elitist protests world over - from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street. We’ve moved well beyond the old attitude of ‘mock them a little but otherwise let them do as they please’.

The ruling elite are always dangerous. It’s silly to trivialize the danger and pretend they are just a joke. They have the power and the money. They can start wars, trigger financial crises and influence many things that affect our daily lives. If they are baffoons, this only makes them more dangerous.

Hitler shot himself to avoid being captured.

It is you who makes them dangerous. You take them at their own evaluation. The point of humour and trivialising is to perform a sort of psychological function, it is to immunise people against the propaganda put out by the powerful who, incidentally, would not be putting out endless messages telling of how powerful they are if they really were powerful. It’s a dead giveaway known as “He doth protest too much”.

Erm, 9/11? The financial crash? Where was the field day for those events? Even the Iraq WMD intelligence, which everyone with a brain knew was a load of bollocks, didn’t cause that much of a stir.