Monday, 26 December 2011

Hello World

Saying 'hello world' can be a nervous experience. Mistakes might be made: say exactly the wrong thing, reveal a hidden truth, and suffer in the knowledge your error exists publicly, not your property but in the whole world's domain.

When a public figure in any kind of power position is speaking in public, and normally therefore on the media, I normally switch off. Sometimes though they might make a slip, a 'mistake' which they might ignore or instantly 'correct'. I wonder if these errors do reveal truths the speaker would prefer to stay hidden, either from us or from themselves.

This blog wants to collect such slips of the tongue, these parapraxes, as they are known to psychology. Some theorise that parapraxes can truthfully be seen as more than just simple error - that they reveal some hidden truth, a 'repressed impulse' (to use Freudian language), hints, a window into the speaker's mind.

I'm not a professional psychologist or anthropologist, but I've often further wondered, wouldn't it be great to collect parapraxes, and publish them? From great parapraxes of the past, to the current semantic slips made by today's public figures, this blog will do just that, for your information and entertainment.

And in the hope that we might glimpse behind the veil of power.

So I've been collecting, but where to begin? The private lives of politicians? Why not? First up in this wonderful clip, from the 1992 USA presidential campaign (source), Al Gore's mother speaks movingly about the Democratic ticket, Al Gore and Bill Clinton:

Love her rather knowing expression after the parapraxis. Of course, politicians of other parties also developed a reputation for debauched behaviour in this era, through the medium of the Freudian slip. Check out this classic by a well known 'bad man', former CIA chief George HW Bush, talking about his time as Vice-President under putative boss Ronald Reagan:

Ok, we made it through the first post. Check back soon for more parapraxia puzzles!

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