Friday, 11 December 2015

words have lost their essential meaning: “Rake” season 2, episode 2


Board chairwoman: Ladies and gentlemen of the Board, doubtless you would agree that it is vitally important
that we confront the variables of our current economic landscape and recalibrate our thinking in terms of our client base moving forward.
Lawrence Fenton [applauding]: Excuse my emotion, Madame Chair, but that, for me, & I hope for all of us was a genuine WOW moment! Let me pose this one simple clear question? Are you as a company, moving forward, as the engine room of the greater organism, genuinely embracing and honouring the fundamentals underpinning the goals expressed in your mission statement? Are you nurturing and cherishing your ongoing commitment to excellence at every level, both in terms of your charter and at your customer interface? Because that is your mandate. That is your remit. That is your duty of care. Outcome focus as a means of achieving positive deliverables within a realisable factual matrix...
Board chairwoman: Plus achieving customer satisfaction targets.
Lawrence Fenton: KPIs! Yes, yes! Yes. And isn't that another way of saying it's about the...

Police: Lawrence Fenton? We're arresting you on charges of trespass.
Lawrence Fenton: Look, can I just finish making this point? It speaks directly to their core values.

*

Lawrence Fenton [retired English teacher]: All these words have lost their essential meaning. That is what my protest is about. Pick any of these words at random, shove them in any order you like, they'll make just as much sense. Off you go. Read any government document, listen to some corporate guru. Elaborate, technical sounding twaddle.
Police officer: It was you who phoned us about the Omnico meeting. You said lives were at stake, Lawrence.
Lawrence Fenton: They are! Our very civilization is at stake. This is how the world will end, not with a bang, but with a diminished verbal response capability. The Pentagon describes a plane crash as 'an unintentional flight into the ground'! This is what we've come to. These people are robbing us of meaning, they have to be stopped.
Police officer: You wanted to get caught. So this would come out in the press.
Lawrence Fenton: You read that out without pause, as if it had some meaning. Stress 'only' and 'consistent'.
Police officer (reading): “The uplift manifests only when positional change occurs within the context of our deliverable modular units consistent with our core underpinning fundamentals.”
Lawrence Fenton: Brilliant. Now just add 'moving forward' and you're set.


*

Barney: You just couldn't resist this one, could you, Lawrence?
Lawrence Fenton: Not after I read their press release. It was an ocean of mixed metaphors.

*

Agent Smith: Our attention was alerted shortly after Mr Fenton proposed a birthday singalong for the British Home Secretary.

*
Cleaver Greene: What the hell possessed you to bust into this forum?
Lawrence Fenton: What these so-called important people are doing with words, the way they use language to actually hide what they mean. It's a form of corruption. The writer Don Watson calls them 'weasel words', where corporations and governments complicate what they say so much that there is no longer any accountability or integrity. Once we stop believing in what is being said, once language loses its power to connect us, civilisation is finished.

Prosecutor Ms Crown: Mr Fenton, on May 14 last year, did you publish in your blog the actual minutes of a Pachen Software meeting in which they discussed their potential role in the deployment
of a military satellite?
Lawrence Fenton: I only published the bit where someone said, 'motivating support within a stringent, regulatised umbrella agreement'.

Cleaver Greene: Isn't it interesting that when people talk about the measures needed to protect freedom, they are usually discussing ways of limiting it. [...] Lawrence Fenton's sole mission is to have us say what we mean as clearly as we can. Please, you cannot send a man to prison for that.

Judge: Lawrence Fenton, I sentence you to a period of seven years in a maximum security prison. You'll be eligible for parole in five years.

Lawrence Fenton: I'm on the front page of the papers, am I not? People have to notice now. Maybe I can better win my war from here. Besides, it's quiet. I get to read. [...]
May I read you something? It's an extract from a letter I carry. 'Sand ate into our skins like an abrading stone, yet we felt nothing. Instead, we stood in ox-dumb awe, diminished and humbled by these weathered, ancient blocks that were once some ruler's vainglorious grab at immortality.' My grandfather wrote that to my grandmother from Cairo in 1915. He left school when he was twelve. Worked all his life on the railways. That's how people used to communicate.
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