I found this book in a little free library, and the person who put it there also put in a bunch of Marxist critique and even writings of Marx, and it was right outside of a school playground. So I was like “Dude” because it was definitely a dude….and I took all the books and redistributed them to other Little Free Libraries in the area (Aha! Marxism!) but I kept this one.
For one, I think I hate, but am interested by absurdist literature, especially plays (on both fronts), and because I definitely like writings of politicians before they were politicians, or in this case a writer who became one.
And this play deals with a government bureaucratic office in which a new language is being introduced in order to streamline the paperwork in the office and in order to have a sort-of top-down language of the people. And of course most in the office just roll with it, while one hapless manager has to deal with it and its issues.
The issues with the language are that it prioritizes interjections in language over thought and action. I liked this little dig, but especially as the play wore on it became clear that the issue is not so much what gets prioritized over what, but specifically trying to maximize efficiency in language itself is a necessarily violent act.
One of the beautiful messy things about language is that it is mostly descriptive and performative. So words comes about from use, and when they come about in order to artificially capture form or intent, then it feels crass and annoying. Think about how much people hate fake business speak, mostly because it either elevates commonplace ideas for no good reason, but puts unnecessary structures on top of already existing ideas.
I liked this play, but it was limited, and I wonder if something of the artfulness was lost in translation.
As a teacher who often sits through faculty meetings, one of the banes we often deal with is when something simple or common or commonsense gets twisted or manipulated or overly elevated (often borrowing from business world or worse an idea designed to address a small and specific issue is blown up as a panacea), and so it was satisfying to watch someone react to people around him talking utter nonsense while believing they are speaking wisdom.