The story of the ancient city of Babylon is about a bunch of people who got so carried away with a construction boom that they forgot about God and thought themselves far too clever by half. God was unimpressed and showed them who was boss by addling their speech so they couldn’t communicate properly anymore. This burst the construction bubble and they all took up gardening instead – the hanging gardens of Babylon became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
It also added the word babble to the language, though I’m not sure which language. It became a descriptive noun used to categorise speech that is meaningless nonsense. The post truth world of today with its fake news and subliminal marketing is Babylon revisited. Nobody noticed exactly when the curse of Babylon was visited upon us as it was labelled ‘rebranding’ but ever since very little means anything much anymore.
Once we had a publicly owned national telecommunications network. It was one of the best in the world at the time. It was called Telecom. A reasonable and sensible name. Those who heard or read it might readily conclude that their business was providing telecommunication services. They told us that by taking this service from public ownership and selling it to the highest bidder things would get better. They lied. The New Zealand telecommunications network is now a bit of a mess, and despite the technological revolution there is now less overall coverage than in the days when it all ran through copper wire.
Telecom has since been broken up into smaller specialist companies. The line infrastructure is now maintained by a company called Chorus, but which does not sing. The name ‘Telecom’, after becoming synonymous with shoddy service and grasping business practices, was ditched. Rather than improve service and adopt better ethics they spent $10 million dollars on a new name and ‘Spark’ was born. Hardly a name to inspire confidence in a telecoms company, but strangely appropriate given that a spark is often an indication of a malfunctioning electrical circuit. It is also Kraps spelt backwards. They certainly got their $10 million worth there.
The lead up to our election was like the US elections of 2016 in that it consisted mostly of babble. A picture of Jacinda Ardern with ‘Let’s do this’ written underneath is hardly an indication of a common sense group qualified to run a country. If there is any coherent meaning at all it is a vaguely offensive one. Otherwise it is complete nonsense.
‘Delivering for New Zealand’ is almost as bad. What are they delivering? Pizza? Peace? Plague, pestilence and doom? There was no hint other than that Bill English looked chuffed to be delivering it. The only thing we can be certain of is that they are delivering meaningless twaddle.
‘It’s all about you’ said a picture of Winston. We might dismiss this obvious falsehood as a signwriting error. I’m sure it was meant to say ‘It’s all about me’.
The signs were only the beginning and anyone who listened to the various political debates and interviews will be unlikely to recall anything said that was apt, coherent and meaningful.
Speech devoid of meaning is not necessarily confined to the political arena where we have come to expect meaningless nonsense as the new normal. I spied a sign on the side of the road, it said ‘Broad Spectrum Infinite Solutions’. A pretty impressive claim, and about time too. If ever the world needed infinite solutions it is now. Sadly there were no contact details. There was only a strange shaped depiction of things looking like sponges. It meant nothing to me. I dismissed it as being unimportant; after all if they have infinite solutions I shouldn’t be too fussy about what they look like.
I supposed that those with infinite solutions would know when someone had a problem and contact them. However I became sceptical when a plumbing problem arose at home for which I was struggling to find even a single solution. No doubt somewhere in infinity was not one but many solutions yet Broadspectrum had not been in touch. I expect though that they were busy with infinite solutions elsewhere. Feeding the hungry perhaps? Liberating the oppressed? Reconciling the Arabs and the Jews? Or maybe using some of their infinite solutions to bring peace love and understanding to a sad and troubled world?
However I was dismayed to find that in Babylon, Infinite Solutions doesn’t mean ‘infinite solutions’ but in reality means, Does Road Maintenance.
And if this column has failed to impart any useful information or insight whatever, welcome to the new Babylon.
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The post truth world of today with its fake news and subliminal marketing is Babylon revisited. Nobody noticed exactly when the curse of Babylon was visited upon us as it was labelled ‘rebranding’…