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“Gnosi” publications published a really nice series of philosophical books edited by Panagiotis Kondylis; there was one about Chinese thinking among them. The most impressive element in this book was the idea that a name does not simply express an idea, it turns it into reality.
The general has tiger-soldiers under his command if he calls them “tigers”. A crime has not happened unless someone is there to argue that “this is a crime”. I was thinking that the Chinese wise man could say “rain” and immediately become soaking wet. He could utter the word “wind” and his hair could rise or dust could go into his eye. There are many who believe that all these belong to the days of “mythical thinking”; even books are written entitled “From myth to reason”, as if there existed such a moment, when man leaves mythical thinking and attends Kantianism seminars all day and night long.
Alas! People do not abandon magic for any reason. If we roughly define magic as the use of objects or choruses (what we call “spells” in everyday language) in order to trigger a certain effect, it is proved that we haven’t strayed at all. The archaeological material is rich in ancient curse tablets extant until today. In a study by Angelos Chaniotis, we learn that the spell νικητικόν (pronounced /ˌnɪkɪtɪkoˈn/, in Greek it means “winning”) was cast when someone wanted to win (in Greek νικώ, pronounced /ˌnɪkoˈ/) in a court dispute. Everybody has their own desires. The hidden desire of our government is development; the means for its achievement is, of course, the magic of words. If you say it a lot of times, rhythmically, it will happen.
The political matter of our time, as known, has been solved in the way described quite frankly by minister Stournaras. He said that the memorandum is the only text of practical exercise of politics. I accept that. So, the government is useful for enforcing the terms enforced by our creditors on the wretched body of the Greek society. Since it’s not a matter of content, as the troika is responsible for this, the only part left is the communication one; that is, the words with which this policy can be described in order to become acceptable by the people who bear it and suffer from it. The only solution to this is magic. The magical power of words. Think of that old children’s song, the one they would sing when they wanted someone to lose in a game and expected it to work as a spell. The government sings it too, but the other way round. What is more, as it happened with the “choruses” during the Pythagorean mysteries, words need to be articulated in a musical way for the spell to work.
For those who are about to chuckle, I have to point out that the most impressive part is that this technique actually works. Nobody would expect the unemployed to be convinced; they leave in humiliation by their ex and potential bosses, by their mothers who feed them, by their children who ask for all these things they cannot have. Who will they believe in? Their experience or the prime minister who is talking about a “success story”? The prime minister! Why? Because the truth is bitter, bitterer than quinine; so, the only thing that people want is the prop of a sweet lie.
-Does it make me look fat, my love?
-No, no, no!
-Will you love me forever?
-I will love you even more.
Nobody wants to know. The truth is an unfortunate result of vision. Experience doesn’t matter.
This is how the objection proves what I am saying. The counterargument is that people understand, get angry, are fed up with their lies, and they will send the appropriate message when… Do you understand, dear reader? But, what else is this rather than a completely irrational faith in words? Where does such optimism find grounds in reality? Nowhere! Solace is a universal need of the rightist, the leftist, of everyone. The side that comprises the government’s critics possess their own, our own, delirium. It is not the one of the success story, but of the revolution that is coming. However, “is coming” from “came” is an eternity way. The former say that the Greeks are diligent and always made it, and we are laughing at them. And we say that people are proud, they raise their head and stop the charge of the powerful over their lives; and, at this point, the other side is laughing at us. The only common ground is that we do not use words as dynamite, but as a lullaby. In both cases, the basic element is the magical power of language not to transform life, but to fill the holes, so that our clumsy hull can fit in the world.
The truth is that bitter: “a nose ring, your favorite trinket”, says Enzensberger in the Defense of the Wolves. The voter doesn’t want bread; he wants somebody to lean over his ear and whisper: “There will be no additional measures”, “we live a success story”, “don’t you worry, everything is going to be alright”. Notice the extension of the argument: those who doubt the voters’ desire to be deceived cannot understand the world. It is impossible for them to realise how come there is no organised social resistance, even though the policy followed by the government and the troika is totally against the people. The answer is that people want to replace the mirror in their house with a sign that says “Don’t you look gorgeous today!” What’s the point in looking at your damn face in the mirror? You are so good-looking, dear voter. Never in my life have I seen such a hunky. And everything is going to be alright. The country’s course is an impressive, international success story. There will be no additional measures. And your first love will last forever.