whatever democracy is

Check out the small fry in Angola here, if you are interested. It’s been odd writing this journalistic stuff lately. I’ve been training and pushing myself so hard to move away from ‘reporting’ that I struggle to be in any way happy with anything that’s supposed to be short and make sense. The interest in non-sense and doubt never fades. I read the New Yorker in bed last week and became intensely irritated by a short story about rats that J had been given to help him with a film he’s working on that also involves rats. The story annoys because it’s so neat and tidy, so squarely set up, so structurally accurate, and it ends so utterly cleverly that you want to throw the mag across the room, or do as I used to when a student – leave it in neat torn piles by the loo as non-cushioned but glossy wipe. For the fact is that the real world isn’t neat and tidy.

J said, ‘Perhaps we could start a magazine in which everything admits to doubt and there are no knowing conclusions.’

‘Someone’s probably done it before,’ said I, ever pessimistic, ‘but no one wanted to buy it.’ And then I got annoyed with myself for not pursuing the idea further in my own blog.

And it’s one of the things that annoys me about these Angola elections. Everyone wants to ask silly questions and get neat answers. Will the elections be free and fair? People keep asking that. I don’t think they will, but it’s not a question simply of future tense. I don’t think they are nor do I think they have been. But how many of us ask the same question of the US elections, or the UK elections? I tend to respond thus and people look at me as if I’m dumb, or wilfully provocative like a teenager who’s started smoking weed. What is a free and fair election?

I think that I haven’t a clue. And will attempt to say so in an intelligent way tonight on the telly. I’m going to appear, beneath a layer of thick foundation and black eye make-up, on African Views (one hour, broadcasting to Africa ‘part of the States’ from 2000 local time to South Africa). I did point out to the producer that I am neither Angolan nor South African, nor, I added, African. Are you sure you want me? Yes, he said. We do. I’m nervous. Everyone will be looking for neat answers to neat questions.

I’ll probably stare at the camera in a state of confusion.


4 thoughts on “whatever democracy is

  1. most people are just clueless and ask dumb questions. do they really care if elections in Angola are free and fair?

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