By scolies, OccupyFrance
Translated by SnakeArbusto
I’m outraged by
– the government blackout that is wiping away the right to free expression as if the Constitution simply didn’t exist anymore.
The power knows how powerful pictures and words are, and they’re taking away our banners and even our cardboard!!
Large numbers have to stand up and refuse to let France be turned into a dictatorship by a few simple gestures!
I’m outraged by
– the blackout by the media, institutions, colleagues, neighbors, etc. in France
I’m outraged by
– their negative, depressing subliminal messages
I’m outraged by
– their treating fundamental causes with humor
I’m outraged by
– their NEWSPEAK, that has become our standard everyday vocabulary
Definition of NEWSPEAK: A lexical and syntactical simplification of language intended to make it impossible to express subversives ideas and avoid any formulation of criticism (and even the “idea” of criticism itself) of the State.
This concept also illustrates an idea of the logician Bertrand Russell – that no problem can be solved or even perceived if care is taken to eliminate any possibility of articulating that problem from the start. (source: French Wikipedia)
I’m outraged by
– their intellectual cynicism – beneath whose surface of facile humor lies an obvious manipulative intelligence
I’m outraged by
– the global, massive, and seamless support of the daily press – even the so-called “Left” press – for business and for the government.
I’ve even seen an ad in support of the privatization of EDF on the Web site of l’Humanité…
Etc. etc. etc. And that’s only on the subject of the press, which is crucial to our democracies.
What I offer here is what I hope will a become a “daily press de-review.”
A retranslation of the press’s negative filtering of our presence at La Défense.
A systematic tracking of the day-to-day contempt for the intelligence of our struggles.
The exercise consists in ferreting out what lies between the words written by journalists, who hide denounce the Occupiers’ causes while pretending to defend them.
Their weapons are dialectical in nature; we mustn’t be taken in.
We need to declare war on their words and replace them with ours.
And so here are mine – on my two days’ experience with the Occupation.
They’re followed by my retranslation of the article from Le Monde that made me want to react, posted on the Occupy France home page:
I spent all weekend (Saturday until 1 AM) and all day Sunday at La Défense. I saw how serious the GAs were, and the working groups, about the various struggles the Occupiers at La Défense (myself included) are involved in.
I’m back at work now and I can only follow the movement at a distance, via Twitter, streaming (fortunately), and the official press.
On Twitter there’s just too much happening at once – so many sources of intelligent thought from Occupiers around the world.
In my opinion there aren’t enough tweets about the content of the #occupydefense GAs and working groups.
The police pressure at the site is clearly sapping energy that should be going into thought and discussion. So those of us who are nice and warm at home should take up the slack – which is what I’m happy to be able to do because it feels so good to be saying these things.
On the stream, I grab as much info as I can and pray that the connection stays good, while cursing my job because it keeps me from being at the GA. (I take this opportunity to ask the site’s contributors to please make the minutes of the GAs more visible and accessible – I’m willing to help with that.)
And silently and with all my heart I send support to the courageous campers who are fighting the cold, the rain, the concrete pavement, and the police night and day.
I’m much in their debt for holding on, for being so valiant in defending the many causes for which we share our indignation.
I’m so impressed with their perseverance and their resistance that I just can’t sit idle during the rare free time I have.
The cause is serious, and I what I appreciate more than anything is the seriousness the Occupiers I’ve had the honor of meeting this weekend on the Parvis de La Défense have shown, each in his or her way.
In the official press: The contrast is striking!
Not a word is said about the GAs and working groups – all we get is a cynical vision of a “poor group of intimidated clowns”!!
Without the magic word of a slogan or a leader that can be attacked, the press is somewhat at a loss. And that in itself is delectable!
As someone who is on the Left (in the original sense of the term, which has become so hackneyed that it’s lost all meaning… except to me).
I am shocked every day by the way so-called “Left” journalists are deal with events through such a contemptuous filter.
There’s nothing new about that; the press has been giving me ulcers for years.
But now that the speaker’s platform is open, I’m going to take the opportunity to propose a few ideas for avoiding the traps laid for us by people who claim to be on the Left but who act under the cover of a perverse dialectic (which is unfortunately also quite brilliant, and isn’t denounced often enough).
Each headline shocks me because its either lies or mystification.
And since the people who aren’t there only see what’s happening through that filter, it’s time to straighten out a few false notions.
About how the Occupy movement is perceived through the media filter:
– as clowns
– as hippies
In other words, as people who aren’t to be taken seriously.
What I offer here is a semantics workshop for retranslating the daily translations journalists are giving of the struggles now going on:
The rules: retranslate the headlines in several versions, like Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, or else react to them to throw light on what’s hidden between the lines.
We’ll take the published headline and propose versions that point up the systematic downgrading of the cause the journalist is supposed to “present independently of judgment.”
An example from today’s haul:
The article in Le Monde from the 11/8/11 issue:
The article’s byline: Benoît Hopquin
Editor-In-Chief at Le Monde since June 2011: Erik Izraelewicz (June 2011 – )
Editor-In-Chief from December 2010: Louis Dreyfus (December 2010 –)
I cite the names of the people in charge of the publication because they are our direct contacts, and so are personally responsible for the words they publish internationally.
And since Le Monde is the most widely distributed French newspaper in the world, needless to say their words are powerful.
Let’s look at the text of their message for the day:
I quote only the first paragraph; the rest of the article interests me less because in the Métro you stop at the title since you’re only traveling one station
First the complete headline, followed by my retranslation between the lines:
The headline is already scandalously mocking in tone: “Sale temps pour les ‘Indignés’ de la Défense” (“Nasty weather for the ‘Indignados’ at La Défense”)
Now I’ll cite the first paragraph and then retranslate it:
“On the Parvis de la Défense, a very serious game was being played this weekend. On one side, the ‘Indignados’ had decided, on the evening of Friday November 4, to set up a camp at the foot of the Grande Arche. Setting up one’s fragile pup tent amid the overpowering towers that house the major French corporations’ headquarters – in other words at the very heart of capitalism – was intimidating, but seemed to be the right approach for people who want to denounce the system’s excesses.” etc.
Here the author, Benoît Hopquin, makes use of humor (suggesting that the cause is not serious):
“On the Parvis de la Défense, a very serious game was being played this weekend.”
Translation: That is, the people on the Parvis de la Défense are “playing games.”
“On one side, the ‘Indignados’ had decided, on the evening of Friday November 4, to set up a camp at the foot of the Grande Arche.”
Translation: “had decided” – notice that he uses the imperfect tense, meaning it’s already over, thus no longer news, thus we can forget it.
“Setting up one’s fragile pup tent amid the overpowering towers that house the major French corporations’ headquarters – in other words at the very heart of capitalism – was intimidating, but seemed to be the right approach for people who want to denounce the system’s excesses.”
Translation: Every word used here drips with disdain:
– “fragile pup tent”: in other words, weak, without power, and a ‘pup tent,’ so meager it’s not even a real tent
– “intimidating”: meaning that the Occupiers are intimidated?
“seemed to be the right approach for people who want to denounce…”
“seemed” is also in the imperfect (once again, it’s already over, as we said = exit)
“seemed to be the right approach”: meaning that it’s not right, or the right, approach, but only “seemed” to be.
Benoît Hopquin is hedging his bets so as not to get too involved by taking an affirmative position. (a man’s got to hold onto his job, right?!)
In the rest of the paragraph, Hopquin drives the point home so as to dodge his responsibilities and enable the public to distance themselves from the cause of the Occupation:
To him, setting up a camp might be the right approach, but only for “PEOPLE WHO” (in other words, not myself, the so-called journalist on the Left, and not you readers), but THEY, THESE INTIMIDATED PEOPLE WHO ARE PLAYING A GAME IN THEIR LITTLE PUP TENTS AND WHO THINK CAMPING OUT AT LA DÉFENSE IS THE RIGHT APPROACH.
The article ends with a quote from a pleased participant: “Hundreds of people came to talk with us and took part in our general assemblies. People who didn’t know about us now know we exist.”
Oh wow, at least we exist. Ah, but we exist not in the eyes of the journalist, but of a participant. Something already smells a little funny. And then the participant is pleased, meaning that everything is fine, the simple fact that people know of the movement’s existence is something to be pleased about.
But only the participant took part in the general assemblies, not the journalist.
That’s what I call real reporting! What is a reporter’s job supposed to be? It’s to inform his/her thousands of readers about the CONTENT of those assemblies, isn’t it?
Therefore this article contains nothing that could inform the reader about the reasons for our presence at La Défense. And if there are no reasons for it, it’s natural for “camping at La Défense” to appear non-legitimate to those readers.
The more I read between the lines, the more I find that the journalist who wrote this headline is perverse. (if it’s not the journalist’s job to write the headlines, then it must be the editor-in-chief’s).
And by the way, who is editor-in-chief of Le Monde who’s having so much fun discrediting the Occupiers movement without seeming to be?
Benoît Hopquin, Erik Izraelewicz (June 2011 -) and Louis Dreyfus (December 2010-)
We’d like to thank you, unworthy representatives of Le Monde, for presenting the Occupiers movement this way to thousands of readers!
Shame on you for manipulating the reality of this righteous movement; thank you for your daily practice of revisionism.
To all of you who are sick of this permanent media manipulation:
It’s time to point up the false posturing of the so-called “Left” media whose headlines are doing a disservice to Occupiers’ cause.
They act as part of the power structure when they drain the meaning from all the causes they as journalists are supposed to represent without injecting their opinion.
They are many, they are highly talented in dialects, and they have too much power.
We need to study their exercises in style and track down all these abuses, which are labeling the Occupiers movement as a “group of silly pranksters.”
We must serve them notice, loud and clear, and point the finger at their use of words: Their words are vile and deceitful, and need to be denounced as such.
To all who love the French language, semantics, and dialectics: We need to retranslate our journalists’ translations, be they from the “Left,” the Right, from Mars or from anywhere else.
Let me recall the definition of NEWSPEAK: It is lexical and syntactical simplification of language intended to make it impossible to express subversives ideas and avoid any formulation of criticism (and even the “idea” of criticism itself) of the State.
This concept also illustrates an idea of the logician Bertrand Russell – that no problem can be solved or even perceived if care is taken to eliminate any possibility of articulating that problem from the start.
PS: This morning there were strikes. Riddle: Can you find a headline in the morning press that clearly says why the rail workers are on strike?
Translation: “More strikes; these strikers are a pain in the ass.” You can’t be in solidarity with them if you don’t even know what the strike is about…
We must demand dissemination of information, not fables!
What we need to do is to write up a press review our journalists can at least copy and paste if they can’t manage to concentrate on the GAs. After all, GAs are boring, aren’t they?
As a matter of fact the Occupiers’ GAs are fascinating, and we need to make that known!