Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Present

The Emperor’s New Clothes 

Twice upon a time, the great reading public were approached by two brothers, “We are ever so clever and very stylish”, as they described each other, “but my brother is also quite wrong.”

 “Readers, we are the finest political writers ever to put pen to page or fingertip to keyboard. We can look at any subject; see immediately how wrong the other journalists and historians are and weave the finest stories from words that we define ourselves precisely.” They took a sip of whisky and coffee respectively and continued,

 “We are so contrarian that the warp of our stories runs crosswise and the weft lengthways. Isn’t that brilliant? Everyone else has got it wrong, of course.” “And the thread is spun from the finest individual hand-picked cotton bolls as we metaphorically describe facts. If the colour and texture of the cotton boll doesn’t match the thread of the cloth we plan to weave we discard it unless we need some that are thicker and darker for emphasis.”

 The great reading public was very impressed with the brilliant brothers’ description of their talents and sat on the edge of their seats waiting for the brothers to research and then write a brilliantly controversial article or two because the brothers always disagreed with each other so that they could write more articles. When the articles were published the great reading public paid for the newspapers, books and magazines they appeared in and the two brothers became rich as a consequence.

 However, the great reading public was rather disappointed by the articles, “You’ve simply written the opposite of what other journalists have written,” it complained. “No we haven’t” said the two brothers, “Unintelligent people might think that because they aren’t clever enough to understand that actually … other journalists have written the opposite to us.”

Not wanting to appear dim, the great reading public readily agreed with that elegantly constructed logical argument for which there was no possible rebuttal and became very hostile to other people who had doubts about the brilliance of the two brothers, whatever they cared to write.

 A succession of critics noticed the errors in the brothers’ articles but they were smeared as background noise and lasagne, whatever that meant and were ignored and became unpersons just as the Trotskyists had taught the brothers to do in their first flush of contrarianism.

 Paradoxically, the brothers became more unpopular as they became more popular with their polarised fan bases. One took pride in calling himself Hated when actually he was pitied more than despised (Perhaps the reasonable person’s definition of Hated was actually Consistently Correct). But the younger brother was happy because he was finally getting the attention for which he had desperately yearned all his life (he was never on radio and the telly because he was right and reminded his readers of that injustice before and after every appearance). And he lived happily ever after.