This article appears on today’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday.
The truth is incontrovertible.
That’s two “truths” in the first two titles. Quite a heavy start I would say. Of course they are not really “truths” but two instances of the word “truth” that is of itself a combination of letters that we use to label the idea we have in our head – the concept we call “truth”. There is truth in the following statement: “You know you are growing old when you prefer VH1 classics than VH1’s Pop Music Weekend”. There is no instance of the word “truth” in that sentence but on the other hand you do get the nagging unfortunate feeling of helplessness that results from the fact that the sentence is a description of a true situation. But let’s get on with it… more about nonsensical philosophy later…
Panic may resent it.
It’s been a week of leaks hasn’t it? I mean I could hardly resist the whole business of puns regarding the vegetable affectionately known to those of a scientific disposition as Allium porrum. Those of no such disposition whatsoever tend to call it a “leek” and we tend to translate that to Kurrat in Maltese … which is not entirely right because the kurrat (Allium Ampeloprasum) is actually an Egyptian cousin of the leek. In any case, what we had is a Leekgate of rather gargantuan proportions – one of the heavy smelling, long lasting odour variety.
Basically, without putting too fine a point on it, the source of all the panic was the fact that intelligentsia from the MLPN ranks were busy accusing each other of fiddling, pirating and dealing in information that should never have been in their hands. There they were hanging their linen in public – not theirs really, that of the other side, but seeing that they mutually reciprocated in an effort towards Mutual Assured Destruction of the partisan kind we got to see everything but the frilly knickers that Austin Gatt must keep for special occasions.
The charade was imposing. Labourites indignant at the handling of MITTSGate by the government. Government MPs replying in no uncertain terms that Labour trafficked in information governmental on a daily basis. Then Pawlu ta’ Valletta’s email to the government departments urging them to share citizen information with that liberal party of his rose to the surface like that metaphorical faeces nonchalantly deposited underwater. The battle spilled into the ether and apologists on both sides rose to the occasion and unearthed Alfred Sant’s violation of corporate secrecy the day he tabled a list of passengers who flew to Malta to vote courtesy of a subsidy from the Republic’s coffers.
Before you knew it Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana where thrown in for good measure.Yes I know that the two poor souls had nothing to do with this data violation mess but they are two names that come up in the slinging match when there is no real answer that can justify the piggy-doings (hnizrijiet or as the French would say cochonneries) our two great parties are capable of conjuring when they really do not put their mind to it. We’re a sad nation when it comes to that. The right expression in these circumstances is “we cannot see the wood for the trees”.
Ignorance may deride it.
You see the problem to weird individuals like myself is not whether Austin is right or Joseph is wrong. The problem, is that this kind of discussion between the two behemoths of our political landscape always departs from the premise that it is normal for a political party to meddle with the kind of information that in any democracy worth its demos would be considered private. We are busy discussing over a pastizz and tea whether it is more acceptable for Paul to have his very own list of complainants to government (customer care PN style) than for Alfred to poke his nose around lists of voters flying in from abroad to exercise their right (some voters are worth more than others MLP style). We ignore the main point of it all. It’s not their bloody business.
Unfortunately we have been rendered immune to such thinking. We take it for granted that both the PN and MLP (and for all I know AD) do their utmost to keep databases of information about you and me. Those very same databases that come in handy on election day to torture you with that non-sensical phone call loaded with non-sequiturs: “Sir, we are calling to tell you that you have not voted yet”. They want to know so much about you and me. They want to know why you are angry with the government, why you cannot stand the opposition and most of all who you plan to vote for come E-day.
How can you blame columnists for almost condoning PBO and his email? It’s run of the mill political party work. He’s a decent chap he is. I know that. PBO is my friend. Which is why I am all the more pissed off at such ridiculous blurring of party and governmental lines. The thing is we cannot be surprised. We let them get used to this modus operandi. They do not give a rodent’s rectum about your right to privacy – they have shown it time and again – just look at the exceptions to the Data Protection Laws. It’s part of the same… you can choose so long as it is between PN or MLP, you have a right to privacy but it does not count as far as MLPN are concerned and if you are thinking that it’s all one sad big joke just remember one thing… the joke’s on you!
Malice may distort it
My Flesch-Kincaid grade level has gone down because of the last few long-winded sentence (like you care). Now there’s some truths to be told about language. Our language. I did visit the Book Fair as announced last week. There’s hope yet. More and more books are being published in Maltese and the book fair was a good indication of this. I did have the feeling that the Book Fair was much smaller than it used to be in previous years. Is there a commercial reason? No incentive? What? I stocked up on Stagno, as expected.
Flying and busing it back to Luxembourg I got to read Guze’s first and last works. Ramon u z-Zerbinotti turned out to be rather disappointing. It’s loaded with cliches and if you really have no time to read the full monty just read the blurb on the back cover and you have the whole story in a nutshell. Basically there is no real story but a long excuse to picture stereotype upon stereotype in an amusing (but boring after a while) manner. I suspect that Guze is playing too much for the masses.
The reason for my suspicion is that on the second leg of my trip I read his first book “Inbid ta’ Kuljum” and it rocks. It bites because its stereotypes are real and its characters flesh and blood. Its mood is tangible… which is to say that you could find yourself in quite a depression by the time you turn the last page. More of that please Guze – and leave the sensationalism to the politicians will you?
Then there was this book called Alte Vestiga by Austin Sammut. It has had quite an aggressive advertising campaign in black and white in the kind of design you would find in 60’s gentlemen’s magazines sandwiched between Haig Whisky and Punt e Mes Adverts. I did not buy the book. How could I? The bloke got four reviews by four gentlemen of the highest intellectual quality. I have a theory of how they wrote the blurbs – they must have chewed on a couple of pages of some complicated philosophy tome and then proceeded to regurgitate randomly onto a page. Frankly I could not make head or tail what they were on about.
Here’s Serracino Inglott: “How can one analyse the concept of ‘eternal recurrence’ underlying Anton Sammut’s novel without taking note of the fact that the structure itself of the novel is precisely a transcription of this concept? ” How indeed? Or take Oliver Friggieri: “In the formation of his “summa” the author submits all to the dimension of eternity…”. Never were the words ignorance and bliss more happily coupled. Good luck to anyone braving the book. I gave up after the blurb.
But there it is.
A brighter note regarding our vernacular landed on my desk at the Court of Justice earlier this week. There is finally a Maltese version of the Recueil – the printed collection of decisions of the Luxembourg court that is available in all languages. It’s lovely and will fill every Maltese heart with pride. Every language version has its colour code; for example the Italian is green, French is blue and English is purple. Being male I am unable to describe the colour of the Maltese version (I’d stick my neck out and say a palish cream bordering on the yellow in certain light) but I already think it is the coolest and most sober of them all. I can’t wait to be able to replace my current English and French collections with the Maltese one – even if I know that I will forever be frustrated by that ridiculous translation of Grande Chambre (Grand Chamber) to Awla Manja.
The Welsh too are celebrating. For the first time their language has been used in Council meetings. We will continue to hear from the naysayers who will repeat the usual cluck-clucking of “waste of money” and “one language is enough” but there is no denying that Project Europe is helping the cause of languages in its own way.
It’s been a relatively quiet week on the whole. The words “economic crisis” have been used sparingly though signs of more cracks are still evident. We may have fooled ourselves that the worst was past when the price of the oil barrel returned to more decent levels but there are signs that more trouble lies ahead. Mr Darling is preparing a sort of plan to deal with renegade banks in the UK. In the US the three major car manufacturing firms are facing armageddon. That’s ugly enough. What could be uglier is the European governments tempted to prop up their car manufacturing companies in order to weather the storm.
The international economic order is one of those temporary truths. We had got used to the free market and laissez-fairism. The state had retreated from being a main protagonist in markets and this retreat had occurred at quite a steady pace over the last 20 years. It’s all back to square one now. The states own most banks and they definitely plan to interfere in the economy for a while yet. It’s just the right time to reform Common Agricultural Policy. The truth of the world economic order is shifting shape. It has proven to be transient yet again.
A more steady truth is the arrival of that plonk in nice packaging every November. The Beaujolais Nouveau is back. It’s nothing special – just a good excuse to sip on some wine with friends (if you really needed it). Other truths keep on being reaffirmed – a woman has lost her handbag (in space), Brasil played football like gods (against Portugal), England think they are the best because they beat Germany in a friendly and hopefully by the time you read this article Juve will be perched on top of Serie A having caught up with scudettodicarta.
One last note. The subtitles of this article make up one full quote. It’s a Churchill quote of course. Hope you enjoy it… as the jewish saying goes… the truth… if I lie!
This has been j’accuse… speaking about the truth, so you don’t have to!
Jacques has been discussing data protection on https://jaccuse.wordpress.com. Why not come and eavesdrop on the discussion?