Killing From a Desk

April 17, 2009

“I see a man of around 50, coming back from his work in the City of London. It’s a soft summer’s evening, so there’s no need to put the car in the garage. He can hear the sound of his children’s voices coming from the garden, and he feels an acute sense of wellbeing as he walks around the side of the house, only pausing to smell the exquisite scent of the white roses he planted last year. Earlier that day, the man, a senior accountant at one of Britain’s leading oil corporations, had presented the final spreadsheets in the report which determined that a coastal area the size of Scotland in southern Nigeria would soon be developed. He cannot connect this fragrant evening in leafy north London with his work earlier that day. He cannot, or perhaps will not allow himself to, connect his life in London with the lives of those in Nigeria about to be devastated by his tapping at a keyboard.

Who was the senior accountant who looked at the spreadsheets for this project?

Who at the merchant bank dealt with the finance capital?

Who authorised the project to go ahead? Who decided that they wouldn’t negotiate with the Ogoni villagers?

Who telephoned the Nigerian Government to ask for the mobile police force to be sent?

How are we to show the violence of a spreadsheet?

How are we to show the violence of a set of minutes?

How are we to show the violence of an idea?”

From the performance ‘killing us softly’

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