Hollow Words

M. John Harrison: “My gut instinct is that we ought to talk less to each other. Some people think that religion is to blame here. I think it’s something prior to that. I think it’s language. You can’t do religion until you have language. You can’t promise someone ‘freedom’ (Bush) or ‘paradise’ (bin Laden) except with words; those items are labels without a referent. And if I have to read another article by Martin Amis or Ian McEwan — middle class wankers who have never been in harm’s way their whole lives, competing with one another to produce dully clever, middle-aged Britpap about real events; or if I have to hear another soundbite in which Slimy Tony, dressed up in a casual jacket to look ‘hard’, licks the arse of the biggest bully in the global playground by ‘pledging’ himself; or if I have to hear any more investment bankers presenting themselves as wounded martyrs in the ruins of the Church of Money; or if I have to hear another Islamic spokesman misappropriate the words ‘caution’ and ‘evidence’; I think I might fly an aeroplane into something myself. Only so I don’t have to hear words any more. Do you see? I’m fucking sick of words because I’ve spent nearly forty years manipulating people with them for a living, and they don’t come near being the thing itself. All rhetoric, including mine, is empty rhetoric. Every death is a real one.”

More Harrison interviews can be found at Strange Horizons, Cyberdark, and Zone SF. His work is highly recommended.

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