If it isn’t forbidden it’s compulsory. That was one description of Stalinism. Another aspect of that system, as noted by Slavoj Žižek, is its compulsion to raise language to a meta-level of redundancy. A hotel in
I was reminded of this by all the signs going up around the place about not smoking in pubs. It is already against the law to smoke in pubs, so why, I wonder, have a special sign for it? The Wellington (good pub, introduced me to the sublime smoke beer Schlenkerla) has a set of other posters reminding drinkers not to commit murder, arson or time-travel (drinkers caught time-travelling will be deemed to have arrived after closing time and refused service).
On a Saussurean level though, it reminded me of how word X is only itself by virtue of not being any other word. So given my perpetual state of confusion over what, exactly, it is I do in my life, maybe the solution lies in exhausting all the things I am not doing at any one time. I am not smoking in the pub, I am not burning the building down, killing anyone or travelling back in time. That’s four things. Four billion memory-jogging posters later I might have a better idea what it is I am doing. I’ll let you know when I find out.