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    #1

    The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Would you please correct my mistakes in the seventh part of my text?

    Mats sat in a cafeteria and drunk coffee with his colleagues. The anger was building up inside him as he was listening to others discussing weather, TV programs, restaurant food and other trivia. He had been listening to the similar banal conversations since his first workday at university. His colleagues disgusted him with their cowardice. A robber could walk inside this moment and take everything with him, and none of them would raise their voice, let alone fight him. They probably would be waiting for government instructions as what to do next.
    In one moment, his anger flared up and he blurted out, “We have taken too much refugees. We are governed by the mentally deranged. This must stop immediately, or society is going to collapse.”

    They stared at him in disbelief. The silence was deafening. He had uttered the unutterable. It was worse than blasphemy. A taboo had been broken, and in their eyes, he had committed the worst possible crime. If he had told them he had sex with a student, they would have shown understanding and forgiven him. If he admitted, he had been using drugs and other substances to relieve his anxiety, they would have forgiven him also, but his open dissent was a cardinal sin. Their eyes widened, eyebrows lifted. He must have gone mad, they thought.
    “So what should we do?” asked one of his colleagues.
    “Close the border,” he said and immediately regretted, because they were five against him alone. Five highly educated men and women who despite their PhDs and other prestigious titles were never able to think out of the box. They started spouting platitudes about Swedish responsibility and generosity, while other countries turned their back on refugees. Why don’t you open your beautiful and spacious homes for people in need, Mats wanted to ask, but held himself back. If he exploded, he would be unable to control himself, and his pent-up anger and frustration would turn into violence. He stood up, his face burning crimson, and turned away without a word. As he strode down the hall, someone shouted behind his back, “Are you a racist?” He knew his intercourse with his colleagues would never be the same again.

    The next day, Mats was called to the Head’s office. As soon as he entered, Gudrun gave him a piercing stare. She was a radical feminist, who did not have a high opinion of men. Mats bumped into her on many occasions in the city centre as she was walking hand in hand with her lover – a woman who was at least 15 years her junior. Gudrun was proud of her attractive paramour, and she would jut out her square chin at men as if telling them, “She is mine! Don’t even try!” Mats had nothing against her sexual orientation or feminism, but he hated women in their fifties who believed they were still teenagers. Gudrun’s long, unkempt, grey hair, short skirt and leather booths sickened him. Find a good hairdresser, he wished to tell her.
    “We don’t want racists at our department,” she said.
    Mats had to listen to her remonstration in silence for a quarter of an hour before he had a chance to say anything. He was done for. Anyone branded as a racist in this country was finished. You could be the most skilful surgeon, lawyer or engineer, but if someone marked you with that epithet, it would be burnt on your skin forever.

    “My only offence is that I don’t want to swim with the tide,” he said.
    “And what about us who swim with the tide?”
    “You are all brainwashed.”
    Her chin jutted defiantly and she snorted. “You are suspended until further notice.”
    Mats shot her a look full of scorn and strode towards the door. Before he went outside, he turned around. “Cut your hair, hag!” he shouted and closed the door with a bang. As he was walking down the corridor, a sense of freedom was flowing inside his body like a drug. He had never before experienced such joy. He rushed out of the stifling building, and feeling the fresh breeze on his face, he punched the air with his fists shouting, “Free! Free! Free!” Groups of students standing around and sitting on the benches stop short and looked on in disbelief.

    We could also imagine another version in which Mats is not called by his boss. He and his distinguished colleagues returned to their work as usual. Nobody told him a word. But the following day, when Mats sat down to drink his cup of coffee, he sat alone. Others sat on another table and pretended he did not exist. In the next weeks or months, he would drink his coffee and eat his meals alone. Every sip would feel like a chalice of poison; every mouthful would stick in his throat. He would become his own judge and torturer. The question is only how long he would put up with before pleading for forgiveness or handing in his notice.
    In the advanced totalitarian state, you do not need to punish people physically to force them into submission and compliance. It is easier, cheaper and more effective to activate people’s self-regulatory mechanisms, which would turn them into exemplary low-abiding citizens. If you still have any doubts, you have to work on your mind because once you have achieved the highest state of obedience the rewards will be endless.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Red face Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Now we're having fun!

    First paragraph. Say::

    Mats sat in the cafeteria and DRANK coffee with his colleagues.

    It is highly likely it is the same cafeteria every day, thus we use "the" there.

    Next sentence. Say:

    The anger was building up inside him as he listened to them discuss the weather, TV programs, restaurant food, and other trivia.

    Since we know who "the others" are it is more natural to use the word "them" (which clearly refers to his colleagues). Because we already know who we are talking about.

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    #3

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Third sentence. Say:

    He had been listening to similar banal conversations since his first workday at university.

    Since we are not talking about any conversation in particular, we don't use "the" there. (Yes, I know. We always say "the weather".)

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    #4

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Fifth sentence. Try:

    A robber could walk inside the place at this moment and take all their valuables and not one of them would raise his voice, let alone fight him.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    If I had been sitting at the table when Mats said what he said I might have said;

    Mats, calm down. It should be:

    "We have taken in too many refugees." You know I'm right. (I'm the head of the ESL department there.)

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    #6

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    If it's fiction you can be anything you want to be. Tomorrow I'm going to be an astronaut.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    You start off the second paragraph with five home runs. Sentence six. Say:

    If he had told them he had had sex with a student...

    And:

    If he had admitted to using illegal substances to relieve anxiety they would have forgiven him for that also.

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    #8

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Say:

    "Close the border," he said, and he immediately regretted it....

    Perhaps:

    Five highly-educated men and women who despite their PhDs and other prestigious titles were not able to think for themselves.

    The phrase "think out of the box" has been used used so much that it has become trite. (Of course, that's just my opinion.)

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    #9

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Say:

    They spouted platitudes about Swedish responsibility and generosity, while other countries turned their backs on the refugees.

  9. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part seven

    Third paragraph. I think you mean to say:

    leather BOOTS

    Also, say:

    "We don't want racists in our department...."

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