A common theme on this blog is other people talking about things they have no idea about, me talking about those things too, and me realising that I have no idea what those people were talking about either. Therefore, my usual conclusion is that I have no idea what I'm talking about most of the time; and most other people probably don't either. This is going to be another one of those posts.
The theme for today's post, which I will progressively obscure, confuse, and get befuddled about, is ASEAN. I know what that is: it's the Association of South East Asian Nations, duh. I can't say I've ever paid much attention to it, which is why until quite recently I had no idea that there was ever such a thing as an AADCP, let alone an AADCP2, an AANZFTA, an AANZFTA JCC, or for that matter
and so on down to
Now the big list where I found all those is over here, but I can't say I care to read it, so I don't have any idea what any of those things are.* Probably most of the members of ASEAN don't have any idea most of the time what those things are, either. In fact, I have to wonder just how, exactly, any of these things can be said to exist either. Just what, exactly, distinguishes AIJV (the ASEAN Industrial Joint Venture) from a bunch of random people in a room together scoffing a bunch of scones? And what is the point of having a JAGEF, a NECTEC, or a SEAFDEC? Does ASEAN just keep these things in the back of the shed to roll out ever 57 years or so when they see a need for them? They seem very much to be possible organisations defined on the basis of other notional entities which exist as a side effect of other hypothetical enterprises which arise due to further speculative groupings: I feel much more certain about the existence of Higgs Boson particles than I do about these things.
At the same time I kind of love the grand bureaucratic flourishes of this language. I love the fact that Joint Consultative Committees, and related sub-committees, can be conjured into existence, complete with chairpersons and secretaries and assistant secretaries. It seems redolent of grandly aristocratic societies, the sort where people go about talking in the following manner:
ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Hail to thee, August Chairperson. May blessings rain down upon thee and all thy targets for the following quarter be exceeded. I bring thee greetings from the far west of this inter-regional nexus within which we reside, and observe thy benevolent presence with all due OHIM protocols.
CHAIRPERSON: It is well said, Assistant Secretary.
Both take a ritual sip from the ritual cup of ritual chamomile tea, and take a ritual bite out of the very-ritual-indeed lamington.
CHAIRPERSON: Pray, what news do you bring from your region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Chairperson, it is grave: the efficiency in cross-border trade objectives that we set in the first quarter are in danger of not being met, and the Elder Career Representative from the Senior Persons Sub Committee - that worthy valetudinarian who hath her offices in the Far East - has similar tidings, I fear.
CHAIRPERSON: And what counsel hast thou?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Chairperson, we must act now... etc etc
It is, indeed, a great pity that people do not go around talking in this fashion most of the time; it would make a great deal more sense than what they do say. Maybe that's what all those bureaucrats have been practicing for, talking the way they do. Well it's about time they finished practicing and started doing, ASAP PDQ, that's all I can say, or people will start WTFing all over the place.
*And I don't think I'd be any more enlightened if I spent time reading the whole list either.
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