Apr 11, 2014

The passive tense (Mr E.) (reblogged)

Mr. E., the mysterious voice behind the 50 shady gayshas returned to Thailand. Here's his latest post, reblogged with his permission:

I’d made it a rule never to trust a man who had begged me to piss on him; but on this occasion, he turned out to be right.

It was later at the bar, after he had scrubbed himself clean, that he told me he was a writer for an ex-pat newspaper here in Thailand. As the Vodka flowed, his conversation became loose and he bragged about his career. He bragged of his, “success.” He told me of the formulas and structures that dictated his work. “Make your work read more, interesting, exciting and credible,” he said.
“Mainly use the active forms – nobody trusts the passive voice.”

I could tell; by the number of half naked, Thai muscle men that surrounded him, that he was reasonably rich – and that he liked Thai tops, or “Kings.” “Kings,” are active. They go to the gym, they have shit tattoos and many bully their wives etc… In contrast, exclusively bottom, “Queens,” look fem and flouncy and wear far too many skin whitening products. Subsequently, “queens,” tend to be ridiculed more often - is that because, “nobody trusts the passive voice?”

Maybe it’s because I’m 40; but, conforming exclusively to a sexual role/gender stereotype seems ludicrous to me. To be frank, I believe anything can go anywhere with anyone, it’s all good fun as long as nobody gets tazzered, or arrested (take note all you 80′s pop-stars! YES BOY GEORGE I’M LOOKING AT YOU). So, where do the truly, “versatile,” homos fit in? The pissed up journo is on to something here. Take this phrase for example:

“I did not piss on the arrogant journalist.”

This is an active sentence. It is direct, to the point, it is culturally infused with positive connotations. It screams, “indisputable fact!”

“The arrogant journalist was not pissed on by me.”

This is a passive sentence. The basic components are the same; we are explaining the fact that a urination did not occur. However, the second sentence, seems to be less trust-worthy. There’s room for doubt, something that is culturally abhorrent.

Did I really not piss on him? Did somebody piss on him for me? It raises more questions than it answers. Even the term, “passive aggressive,” implies something insipid and dishonourable. The passive should be reclaimed by writers. I’m on a quest for balance!

He recommended a book from the, “Writer’s digest,” edited by Michelle Ruberg, “The handbook of magazine article writing – All new second edition.”

It’s packed full of really great tips for anyone who is considering a career in the publishing industry.

It concisely explains many of the grammatical structures we writers employ in order to cast our illusions. The subtle tricks of artifice. Oh yes, there is cunning to our craft – just ask Max Clifford (it’s going to take a miracle to spin your way out of that one Max).

The journo wanted to know why I always seem to write indulgent blogs about Thailand. Usually, I welcome criticism, but I don’t think he understands my motivation. It’s not all about the money. I have a job. He thought my blogs were “trite and boring.” My response? Why bother writing anything weighty? What’s the point? The truth of the matter is that the most interesting and valid things I could write about Thailand are forbidden. So… You know…

I might as well write about wanking in saunas. Which I do.

What is the message? What is the motivation for writing? There are millions upon millions of, “interesting, exciting and credible,” articles online; active structures that shout for your attention. Think about it, what information inhabits the space between the screen and your eye? Is it something that is fundamentally untrue, yet, “interesting, exciting and credible?”

The journalist is right. I should improve my technique, then I could write for an ex-pat, “newspaper.” I could be, “successful” too! I love writing credible facts instead of incredible ones. Let me try that out for a minute…
“By avoiding writing about the institutionalised misinformation which prevents this country from developing in line with its neighbours; the drunken journalist forgets his professional integrity. He becomes a success. While he is pissed upon by passing strangers, he brags about his job, hoping they are suitably impressed by his great wealth.”

Hmmm – It’s not really “exciting,” enough is it? Perhaps if I made it more, “interesting and credible,” like this:
“Journo begs strangers to piss on him while fucked by Thai man-whores in Babylon!”

We should learn to embrace our inner passive. I think that calls for a celebration! Golden showers all round!

Mr. E. has a book out about his Thai experience, available on Amazon.

(Artwork by Bob Bienpensant)

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