As I imagine that you do also, I get lots of strange messages from Facebook friends, and even more from Facebook fiends. The latter mainly people who presume that I’m a fellow believer in some fake religious‘faith’ or another,and thus as hell-bent as they are on praying; or others similarly preying on my credulity by telling me sob stories about why they need my financial or other assistance.
But the most fiendish message I’ve received recently came from somebody I’ve come to regard as a friend, at least Facebook-wise, and thus probably neither praying nor preying, but most certainly prying.
Not that I was even slightly offended by her asking me why I write so weird. Quite the contrary, as I was delighted that she’d evidently both read at least some of my wrantings, and was sufficiently wired as to twig to how weird they’re wont to be.
But I was a bit taken-aback by the fact that her question begged a far more complex answer than I had on the top of my mind, let alone on the tip of my tongue or the ends of my typing fingers. So I played for more time to think about it by sending her the tongue-in-cheek response that “I write the way I do because my readers are so weird.”
Now, however, having carefully considered her query for a few days, I think I’m ready to respond to it more sensibly.
So, in the hope that Ling happens to read this, here for her benefit and that of any other reader who’s similarly wondering why I write so much like a ding-a-ling, are all the explanations if not excuses I’ve been able to come up with.
First and most superficial is the fact that, after decades of being required to write according to the rules or along the ‘right’ lines, as in school, at university and even in the wacky world of advertising in which I long worked, I find the freedom to finally run wild and write weirdly affords me heaps of fun.
And apparently causes no offence to at least a hard core of regular readers, some of whose names I’m sorely tempted to mention here, but won’t for fear of possibly embarrassing them, or even endangering their reputations as relatively serious commentators.
My second reason for writing so weirdly is that this is the way I think. Which didn’t come at all naturally, and thus is the product of a power of hard work. A decades-long labour of love in favour of difference over deference; individual thought over so-called ‘common knowledge’; and of doubt, scepticism and suspension of not total abandonment of blind belief over allegedly ‘accepted wisdoms’.
Or, if you like, love of creatively resisting what J.S Mill in his classic document On Liberty terms ‘the tyranny of the majority’, and goes on to decry this phenomenon as even more poisonous to human progress and happiness than political, patriarchal and religious repressions so patently are.
Then, thirdly, there’s my passion, as impossibly purist and naively optimistic as it may be, to try and reveal and proclaim the truth in the face of the packs of professional and pathological liars and other perverters of our words and thoughts for the purposes of their own enrichment and/or political, social or personal empowerment over and at the expense of the rest of us.
The weapons that the these denizens of deception range all the way from barefaced bullshitting Donald Trump-style through to the telling of half-truths and and spinning of part-truths with the aid of what noted Australian living lie-detector Don Watson describes and decries as ‘weasel words’.
But rather than just warning against such weasels words and what I think of as ferret phrases, I’m into weeding them out by weirding them out.
For example, while Malaysia’s disgusting 60-year Umno/BN government was in power, it so blatantly bought votes with ‘gifts’ and hard cash that I was moved to expose the lie in the term ‘bye-election’ by replacing it with its literally true homophone ‘buy-election’.
Just as when former Umno/BN Prime Minister of Malaysia and now defendent against charges of massive fraud, Najib Razak, proclaimed his clearly false aim to build the ‘world’s best democracy’, the word ‘best’ seemed to be begging for me to change it to the more accurate ‘pest’.
But, as recently in my post ‘Hong Kong demos shame dumbocracies’, and as many years ago in Malaysiakini columns like ‘Democracy with a difference’ and ‘Demockracy, demuckracy, damnocracy’, I’ve spent lots more time trying to work-out weird-but-true alternatives to that now notoriously weaseled-to-death noun, ‘democracy’ and its widely-misappropriated adjective, ‘democratic’.
Let’s face it, when such ruthlessly truthless totalitarian nightmare nations as China and North Korea take to describing themselves as ‘democratic’, the word’s as good as dead for all practical purposes.
As it very nearly is, in fact, in most other countries whose dreamocracies have variously declined into doughmocracies, d’ohmocracies or dimocracies, if not yet doom- or diemocracies.
I could go on and on forever here explaining why we so desperately need new, true variations on words that have been rendered meaningless or worse by spinners, misleaders and outright liars who’ve misused and abused them for the purpose of misleading the innocent, the ignorant and the gullible.
But by now I’m sure that you and I hope my Facebook friend Ling get my point. Which is that there’s no point in sticking slavishly to dictionary-standard terms whose true meanings have been wrung out of them by deceptive dickheads, when new or, if you prefer, neologistic variations on them, however weird, are at least as good as their word .