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‘Sword and Cross’

April 12, 2011

King Arthur, thanks to magic (and to Fate)
Gained with Excalibur the right to rule.
In terms of firm foundations for a state
Conferring kingship via sword-from-pool
While neat in stories, isn’t all that great –
And yet: the shine appeals, the gleam, the jewel,
The things that magpie-like we overrate,
Mistaking flash for function, spark for fuel.
The vote still lacks the sword’s symbolic weight:
Democracy may work, but isn’t cool.


Tip o’ the hat to the incomparable Pythons on this one.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Xiémuç Guiri permalink
    April 13, 2011 11:50 am

    Ha! I like this a lot, particularly the memorable last line.

  2. April 13, 2011 12:28 pm

    Seriously. Individual votes are terribly undramatic, especially when the process of voting consists for most of us of wandering down to the local primary school on a rainy day and seeing all of three other people there, two of whom are the volunteers. (Or maybe this is just because I live and vote in a student area that’s lucky to get 20% turnout.) Votes can be pretty dramatic when you’re counting millions of them, but they still never feel that momentous to the caster.

    To make a single vote epic, you’ve either got to leverage the special effects – think “Weakest Link” style shenanigans – or have it be the deciding vote, at which point the interest lies in the individual appeal, the struggle of the single person, and not in the actual consensus business of democracy at all.

  3. Xiémuç Guiri permalink
    April 14, 2011 10:24 pm

    Suggestion on how to make it dramatic: adapt the approach to feeling special about existence in general.

    So there are 6 billion other people alive? Yeah, but think about “how amazingly unlikely is your birth”, in the words of Eric Idle.

    Your vote is a drop in the ocean? Yes, but like your existence, it’s the present effect of a long-lasting and perilous struggle that could have gone wrong at any point.

  4. April 14, 2011 10:33 pm

    True. My mother used to remind me, when she took me along when she voted, that people like us died so that people like us could vote. Obviously turning that into “If you don’t vote then Emily Wilding Davison died for nothing!!1!” is just the sunken cost fallacy,* but it is worth bearing in mind – the very fact that I am in a position to consider voting a kind of dull thing speaks to the astounding distance we have come.

    *My favourite example of the sunken cost fallacy ever is “Jesus died for our sins – dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them?”


  1. ‘Coda’ « This Wicked Day

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