Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In which the pond dallies with the Caterists yet again, and discovers the delight of unreal grants ...

The pond loves its reptile ironies, which is why it was splendid to see the reptiles put climate denialist Gary Johns up above the Caterists, who in turn were offering an ironic splash about "whistling an old tune."

Could there be an older tune than the "coal, coal, coal" tune beloved of the reptile commentariat? It's possibly older than Greensleeves ...

And then of course the Caterists offered their own irony, though it took the google splash to see it ...

There, you see it: "real workers."

These, it should be understood, are distinct from "unreal workers", though perhaps as we explore the Caterist offering, with the pond's Noh love of ritual, we might arrive at some understanding of "unreal workers":

For some reason, such is the nature of rituals, this put the pond in mind of certain texts ...

Ah summer government grants, Caterist dreams ...

But let's not get too reflective, because we must keep searching for unreal workers ...

And there it came, the first chance, the idle talk of undermining the government's attempts to pull back spending ...

As per the pond's established rituals, it was time to contemplate wasteful spending ...

For some reason in the summer delirium, another poem came to mind ...

And so to the final gobbet, and the discovery of the unreal worker ...

Oh the irony was rich and redolent, summer grasses, water's sound, and the constituency for which the government provides a living ... unless of course, you call it working, the arduous business of preparing applications for government grants, and the banking thereof and then the spending, oh the pleasures of the spending ... on very important things ...

The cash in the paw brigade, the grant bludgers, the ne'er do wells that hold out their paws, the unreal workers riding on the backs of real workers ... in short, the arsegroppers ...

Yes, here's what the government does in its make-work schemes to provide a facade, a sense of usefulness and purpose, a conjuring up of apparently meaningful contributions to society ...

Roundtables, seminars, useless websites, dissemination of government propaganda, articles and publications to the glory of the Liberal party, general expenses, activities noted, yadda yadda ...

This is the work of the unreal worker, struggling to make sense of the world for real workers ...

Why do they bother, why is it done? Well there another fable comes into play ... 

It's in the Caterist nature ...

And, it goes without saying in this day of poems, frogs, summer grasses, the Menzies Research Centre and cash in the paw grants from the Department of Finance, the only point, the only meaning, is the exquisite irony ... 

And so the Noh ritual is once more done and dusted ... and no one's much the wiser, except for the obvious truth ... make hay while you can, and all the better if you can make hay by getting the government to hand over some of its hay to you ...


  1. When I first encountered that Basho haiku, DP, it was rendered as:

    Where once mighty armies clashed -
    Fields of grass.

    Which made it a little more mundane, I guess, but I liked the "mighty armies clashed" picture. Oh well.

    But pray, isn't Cater almost totally wailing to the choir nowadays. So tedious and repetitive that he simply couldn't be aiming his diatribes at any but the already convinced. But I guess that passes for a business plan in Murdochratia.

  2. Both translations are nice enough, but reverse the meaning of Basho's poem (to the extent one can say that definitively about something that is intentionally metaphorical). The real thing is more cryptic.

    The particles "ga" and "no" in the original show that poem is not about the dreams of soldiers (which would be dreams-ga soldiers-no), but the soldiers of dreams (soldiers-ga dreams-no). To me, Basho is not doing a "my name is Ozymandias" thing here, but simply recalling that the grass - standing upright, all moving together in a breeze - reminded him of an army.

    My poxy, but (I think) more accurate reading, would be:

    The summer grasses
    Like the warriors of dreams
    Made an impression.

    Even more mundane, I guess, but Basho was always up for making some inconsequential thing consequential.

    As to the Caterists, I have nothing, except to observe that once again Nick has fallen for the old "price = cost" fallacy. The cost* of producing power is falling as we shift to renewables, yet the price of power is rising. But since the cost has been massively higher than the price for over a century, it has a long way to go before the values intersect.

    * By cost, I don't mean "price of producing it". I mean cost - for want of better, "the total loss of value of assets consumed or devalued due to that activity".

    Nick likes market failures of course - they make his heroes look like heroes, and keep him off the streets, and dream that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

    1. On second thoughts "Left an impression" would be better.

    2. That's an interpretation of the Basho I'd never come across FD - quite intriguing.

      I should respectfully request your interpretation of my other two favourite Bashos:
      1. Year by year
      the monkey's mask
      reveals the monkey.
      2. In my new robe
      this morning
      someone else.

      As to the Cater, well the use of the fallacy is quite deliberate IMHO. Ever since "privatisation" the "price" has been rising. "Network gold plating" being a major factor so it's said.

      But my interest was more from the perspective of: who does Cater think reads him or listens to him ? It isn't me, and it isn't you I expect. So I see it as just more mindless 'wailing to the choir' rather than any sort of broader communication. And there's no point whatsoever attempting to be rational for that particular choir.

  3. Hi GB,

    I should stress that Japanese is just one of many languages in which I have achieved a high level of incompetence, so I wouldn't read too much into my interpretation, which is, in any case a minority reading. Since haiku tend to be low on verbs, literal interpretation is difficult - Basho might have meant {soldiers}{traces of dreams} (which is how most read it), but I can't see why {soldiers of dreams}{traces} is not at least as good (boring commentary on Japanese particles deleted). Personally, I think theres a tendency to overthink Basho, a little like the koans Dorothy is fond of.

    As to the interpretations, a little googling suggests even Japanese are a bit stumped by the first one. The best bare-bones meaning for me is "Year after year, the monkey is dressed in the monkey's mask." However it includes a verb form I can't quite fathom, so that's pretty tentative. The intent of your rendition seems clear, but the meaning of mine is obscure, even to me. Perhaps the point is that our mental image of what a monkey is overlays the actual monkey itself, and obscures our view of it (like a commentary on "this is not a pipe"). I guess...but then, I read that there used to be a New Years Day tradition to put a monkey mask (very stylised) on a real monkey as a bit of a wheeze. I don't know if that's true, or why the smeg anyone would do that, but you know, I could say that about most traditions - swedish christmas candle hats, paint-throwing indians, chopping off genital bits, its all wtf to me. Maybe he's just marking off another year...yep, they're torturing the monkey again, must be 2017...

    Unfortunately, I haven't found a japanese original for the second one, so I have nothing to add at the mo (its past my bedtime). I'll look tomorrow, and if I find an original, and if I have any interpretation, I'll post it here.

    I'd wail to the choir if someone gave me a quarter-mill a year to do so, so why wouldn't Nick?

    1. Thanks for that, FD.

      My own interpretation of the first - personally having neither knowledge of Japanese customs nor proficiency in the language - was that, over time, mask and masked 'merge and converge' to become one, and hence the mask no longer 'masks'. However, as you say, haiku are open to many interpretations - as is most language, unfortunately.

      Otherwise, yes: Cater is being adequately rewarded for his agitprop task, I think.

      However, I recall some advice on 'public speaking' that I came across many years ago. It went like this:

      1. If you are speaking to the convinced and committed, push your points simply and pay no attention to contrary views. The people already on your side just want a firm statement of their shared conviction.

      2. If, however, you are speaking to those who still aren't convinced or committed, present all sides of the argument fairly, but emphasising your viewpoint - the 'still doubtfulls' want to feel that they have beenfair and reasonable.

      3.If, on the other hand, your speaking to your ideological enemies, say anything you like any way you like - they won't listen to you anyway.

      Unfortunately, the advice didn't include recommendations for handling a mixed audience.

      Cater, to me, is mostly in case 1: geeing up the converted, with a largish dose of case 3, but never, ever in case 2. As indeed are just about all of the Murdochratian reptiles. So presumably because there's relatively few loyal adherents is why, mostly, the reptile business plan is failing.


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