Apathy

A friend remarked over dinner that, if we were in London (his home town), power outages such as those experienced in Cape Town of late would result in marches and the like. This may be true, and I can’t help wondering if my feeling that there would simply be no point in marching is a) true or b) an indication that he’s highlighting a deep-seated apathy that Capetonians (maybe South Africans) are prone to.

I’d imagine it possible that living in an authoritarian society for so many years could lead one to think that complaining over dinner is the most one can do, and that it’s only once something becomes authorised as a “cause” that change is possible. How something becomes a cause is of course a related problem, in that the ordinary person doesn’t feel that their complaint to the press or radio will have any effect. And that same person is unlikely to be able to motivate a few hundred others to march in protest. But if one listens to CapeTalk in the afternoons, one can imagine Lisa Chiat’s painful earnestness being exploited in order to organise a march or two.

Anyway – it’s clear that those responsible for our power supply issues should resign, and would likely do so even in anticipation of the public outcry in a city like London. It also seems clear to me that Alec Irwin, our Minister of Trade and Industry, should resign after his blatant lies around this issue.

And finally, back to the Krog/Watson thing: just like the Bristow-Bovey case, it’s clear that this one will make no difference, except to be a point of reference in future plagiarism allegations. Some people now believe that Watson is a prick (or have had that belief strengthened) and that Krog has been wronged, and others believe that Watson is a principled, courageous man and Krog a plagiarist. But the same 100 people who buy books by South African authors will keep buying the books of the authors they have always bought, and no-one in the former camp will campaign for an apology, and no-one in the latter camp will boycott Random House, or protest when Krog is appointed to a post at your University.

I love the world of theory, but sometimes – just sometimes – it gets too damn theoretical.