How to Appreciate Political Language as Fellow Citizens Do

“… The technical expertise that experts trade with one another is not what they produce for journalists or senators or even funding agencies. … The same capacity to disregard known attributes is also the essence of bureaucracy: individuals are reduced — defined down to — a set of features limited to the needs of the bureaucratic process. … Something similar is true of rituals and ceremonies and performances in general. These are successful to the extent that everyone concerned — actors and audience — tacitly suspend the reality-testing apparatus through which they try to conduct everyday affairs. If someone points out loudly that the emperor has no clothes or that Peter Pan has a bigger bust than Wendy [where women are playing each part], the charm — the magic — of the performance is in danger of being lost. … Pay attention to what is in the frame and, although you know perfectly well what the meaning would be outside, disregard it.” F. G. Bailey, THE PREVALENCE OF DECEIT (Cornell University Press, 1991)


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