Babar and Colonial Euphemising

"The hunter has killed Babar’s mother. 

The monkey hides, the birds fly away, Babar cries.

The hunter runs up to catch poor Babar."

"Here is Celesteville! The elephants have just finished building it and are resting or bathing. Babar goes for a sail with Arthur and Zephir. He is well satisfied, and admires his new capital. Each elephant has his own house. The Old Lady’s is at the upper left, the one for the King and Queen is at the upper right. The big lake is visible from all their windows. The Bureau of Industry is next door to the Amusement Hall which will be very practical and convenient."

The original Babar story jumps seamlessly from Babar's mother being killed to him discovering a wonderful new city (Paris, without the name). A kind old lady dresses Babar in a beautiful green suit and before too long he is building a modern capitalist city in his home country (somewhere in North Africa, also unnamed). The Bureau of Industry and the Amusement Hall, the new churches of the new age are not far from the Haussmann-Napoleon III vision for a stimulated Paris, one in which the entertained will not dwell on their political situation.

Instrumentalism is the dominant mode of education under advanced technological societies, and has, according to Heidegger, destroyed our capacity for meditative thinking in its demand for calculative thinking.

In the Bitter Harvest Tesconi & Morris write: "And finally we know: as both consumers and producers, we are replaceable. The system qua system needs people but it does not absolutely need me. Not only are we alienated and isolated from each other but from ourselves as well. Our self-esteem is wounded, our quest for personal identity lashes out incoherently for symbolic supports in stainless steel things and 'pay later' experiences."

In July 2010, the Sarkozy French government dispersed hundreds of Romani camps, declaring them illegal. The Roma, not welcome in France, have no warm welcome in their largest populated countries, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia. What are the ethics of nomadism and borders?

If we expect cheap goods from China (and we all know why they are cheap), do we have a right to deny the movement of people? If we tick yes (just do it™) on cheap labour, must we not also tick yes on the freedom of movement and habitation? With clean packaging, has it become easier to obscure the map of production and destruction?

Companies dump unwanted computers and electronics in Africa and Asia, where they leak toxic mercury, cadmium and beryllium into the ground and air. Through this pernicious playground children sift for precious copper and aluminums to be re-sold into electronics re-manufacture. Trend has no end, now means don't either. The self-perpetuating technological system has abstracted and magnified the possible ends, which are now unattainable, leaving the significance of means significantly increased. Ritual routine and avoidance is the escape from the void of endless possibility.

Bluewater, described by Ian Sinclair, "a zone where only the fake is truly authentic, the retail swamp on the borders of everything, grandiloquent and meaningless as one of Saddam Hussein’s arches". From elsewhere: "a city with no gods other than Prada, Gucci and Starbucks, with no cathedral and temple beyond the naves and domes of the mall itself, and with no ultimate purpose beyond stupefying consumption".

Trends die to be resurrected and goods end up no good as waste. Death becomes the middle man of life qua fashion; consumption, waste, re consumption.