Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Turgid Text Tuesday 2

Turgid Text Tuesday (which may or may not appear on a Tuesday) is a semi-regular post which looks at some great examples of terrible language.

They are mainly found in corporate and governmental reports and documents.

"Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Master Plan"
Public Works, Government Architect's Office (PDF Download)

Ah, the yarts. How civilised. How cultural. How jargon. 

This document is really the example of how to write a master plan in today's activated and celebrated world. Each paragraph feels like a restatement of the previous one in increasingly florid and impenetrable language:

  • "optimal distribution of arts and cultural facilities"
  • "world class...precinct"
  • "diversity of...venues"
  • "maximise shared facilities"
  • "Establish a variety of cultural experiences"
  • "Facilitate synergies between a variety of cultural organisations" (my personal preferred tenderer)

Translation: the bottom line here is that they want to build one kick-arse arts precinct that contains all the arts.

Let's leave to one side the argument that arts precincts are pretty dismal pieces of policy and may become ghettos and let's look at the document-proper.

It's the mark of modern corporate-speak that the actual thing you are talking about be as far removed from the words you are saying or typing, lest the common people actually think you know or care about that which you are talking or typing about.

One might call it obfuscatory impartiality (moving forward). Use the same language regardless of whether one is talking about a declaration of war, electricity prices, council waste collections or arts precinct master plans.

In this horrid document, the various sections are headed with amorphisms such as scope, vision, achieving the vision. opportunities and masterplan principles.

Naturally, achieving the vision will require:
"A vibrant mix of commercial and artistic uses to rejuvenate the precinct and balance artistic with commercial imperatives...adaptation and celebration of the architectural heritage of the wharves...engagement...high-quality public domain and a business model that delivers precinct activation and efficiencies of co-location."
Of course, this is exactly what was going through the minds of the Dutch when they founded the Rijksmuseum.

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