Opinion

New Year’s Iron

Summary

As to those who abandon speaking truth to the real power in this world, and wish to be made celebrity pawns by this same English merchant media, let us recall the Chinese proverb: “A man seeks fame, like a pig seeks to be fat.”

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January is a month built perfect for irony. For old promises broken and new promises made.

I am not a writer. With my head cut off and lying on the ground, I keep asking, not “What happened?” but “Why does it keep happening?”

Yet it seems I can’t handle the truth, says my Western Doctor. And what I need is more fiction.

But I am too much of a literalist to be a literateur. To my literal self, the west yawns 200 miles off Bambalapitiya beach in the ocean called Indian. Yet the capital W West really means NATO, and the North Atlantic seems to stretch almost to my door.

This doctor tells me to put my feet up, and pick up a book, suggests a regimen of lie-back therapy, prescribes the placebo of fiction, as a lie to better tell the truth. But most of these corporate fictions publish more of the same lies that tell bigger lies, no doubt as drones in the service of their larger Esso-bees. 

English is a language of thieves perfect for monkeys with sharp knives. In fact most English words are not from England but stolen from beyond, along with the tea and the rubber and the gold. And the opium. A language for robbing the world even as you claim to enrich it. 

Just as ‘opium’ became the wedge to divide India and China, English is a ‘wedge’ language and is by no means the link language as claimed and practised by the ruling merchantry. It is the language of siege. It is no little irony that these bilious bankers and petty private merchants’ English literary festival is held in a fort, complete with a pitakotuva or pettah, the original ‘black’ market where the locals are invited to sing and dance.

Embedded as they are in the bed, breakfast and bunny tourist industry, such literary revellers have set about constructing a false history of Galle, which like our modern aristocrats are of dubious vintage. They even claimed theirs was the first international literary festival in a country that first set down the Tripitaka, and was literate long before the English knew even knew English, in a land that knows real English practice better than English theory after 217 years of private and public English tuition. Galle and the southwest is after all famous in Sri Lankan literary history not only for Koggala’s Martin Wickremasinghe but for the 15th century’s Sathbasha Thotagamuve Rahula, author of the Salalihini Sandesaya, who spoke and wrote in 7 languages. 

 A Colony of Writers

As Karl Marx wrote in the New York Tribune in 1953 about the English government’s massive EIC machinery of ‘writers’ in India:

“Government by merchants was anomalous and continually put the Indian civil service into embarrassing positions. They only act to make money. The fundamental problem with India was this union of government and commerce… The Company’s Directors never considered a duty to the Indian people, they only thought about cadetships and writerships for India and supercargoes and warehouse jobs in their ports – the common sources of patronage, which jobs they gave mainly to shareholders and powerful families. A large minority of the shareholders were elderly ladies, who inherit their shares or act as nominees for their husbands. Their two overriding concerns were to get the dividend on which their lives were financed and to find employment for sons and nephews. These people are unlikely to take a mature view of the Company’s role as sovereign – they see their investment as a financial thing. On the other hand, the Directors are only concerned with the opinions of those shareholders who are current or former employees because they all act in combination at meetings and must be satisfied.”

English literary festivals are now as common as stock markets. And just as stock markets are a front for news monopolies like Reuters to part fools and their money, literary festivals usually push the books to fox fools, books produced by a diminishing set of multinational companies that monopolize the mass media, the broadcast and publishing industry.

The sun shall never set on the English empire, we were told. The communist Colvin R. De Silva replied that the sun never set on the English, for god did not trust an Englishman in the dark. Yakhanda, like the world’s most famous author Anon (aka anonymous) therefore dedicates this column to all the children of the dark, all you would-be writers, artists and musicians who do not long for the setting English sun to shine on you, even as the blood they shed never dries. 

As to those who abandon speaking truth to the real power in this world, and wish to be made celebrity pawns by this same English merchant media, let us recall the Chinese proverb: “A man seeks fame, like a pig seeks to be fat.”

And let us also rejoice in Lakdhasa Vikramasingha’s (1941-1978) least published but most thrust-worthy ‘other’ poem, entitled:


The British Council

When they kiss my ass, o muse
Save me from the clap

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