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Friday, Dec. 15, 2006 - 4:48 a.m.

IR vs RI (Integrated Resort vs Reclaimed Island)

All the poets in this country are dead, and the government is the last remaining executor of symbols. But unlike poets, the government, for all its years in power, has not crafted a single new symbol - it has only created and delineated the symbolic space that rests above the homes of its citizens. The country is an island, and one whose borders have been reclaimed from the sea - as if the psychic space above the waters could be owned by anyone. The country is as artificial as its coastlines, as small as it is parochial. With the land space so limited, the country's symbolic space is the only constituency left for the government to rule.

And so they sat in their new parliament, and drew up a map. The little country of theirs was so small it could be crossed on foot in half a day. Here the people will work. Next to it, a park shall be created for their recreation. Here, the people will live. And where they live there will be no brothels, no casinos, and no screening of dangerous art films. Those things will be zoned in other areas. Home, though it was only minutes away from the red light district, is where one can feel safe. One parliamentarian astutely perceived it to be a map of morality, but he did not share this thought with anyone else. Gradually, mental maps of safe havens, guarded by metal gantries, arose in the minds of the people. Only occasionally were these maps proven false, when the people secretly fornicated in their own houses.

But perhaps the government's greatest coup was in constructing a casino itself, despite the people's nervousness about their own (lack of) self-control. The government called it an 'integrated resort' and located the casino offshore - on an island of an island. This island of an island was a five minute boat ride, or a two minute drive over a bridge from the main island. But the government convinced the people that it was disconnected. No harm would befall their beloved country, or creep into their homes. And the people believed that they would be safe. Those metal gantries of their minds would guard them. Thus this little government became the envy of all the other governments of the world, because it executed the impossible. Without moving a stone or building a wall, this government made a concrete bridge disappear, and turned a narrow strait of water, into something inexplicably uncrossable.


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