RULES FOR CITIZENS

A poem by Jeet Thayil

Let us govern those who undertake the telling of stories.

Censorship is good governance. Self-censorship is an attribute of the highest civilization.

If an actor speaks of God, he will be chastised. He will be refused an encore. If he repeats the speech, he will have his license revoked.

Let us govern those who undertake praise of the next world, since what they say is neither true nor useful to us.

Our best recourse is to be warlike.

We do not deny that storytellers are good at their job and give people what they like to hear. But the better they are, the less we wish our children and men to hear them.

We shall refute their attempts to be wise. We shall scoff when they repeat their vile allegation, Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.

We will do away with the dirges of famous men and leave them for women, and not the best among women either.

Let us abolish those fearful and terrific names, Cocytos, the River of Lamentations, Styx, the River of Fear, Ganga, the River of Death in Life, Lethe, the River of Bliss, Tigris, the River of Affliction.

We shall disallow travel and the mingling of songs.

(Copyright, Jeet Thayil, reproduced here with the author’s permission. Jeet Thayil is a poet, novelist (Narcopolis), editor and musician, and can be found at twitter.com/jeetthayil)

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