Word of the Day / Kiseiologia כסאולוגיה

A word that translates as 'seatology' has little to with lumbar support, and lots to do with the political game of grabbing a seat in the Knesset.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

The English pseudo-word "seatology" has been used in reference to the best places to sit at Chicago entertainment venues, the hunt for a good computer chair, and what your seat of choice in a college lecture hall says about you ("Second-row sleepers: Good intentions, bad narcolepsy").

In Hebrew, though, the equivalent colloquialism – kiseiologia (kee-say-oh-LOH-ghee-ya, from the Hebrew kisei, meaning "chair" – constitutes a one-word political critique.

Often contrasted with ideologia ("ideology"), Israeli seatology is a derogatory allusion to what is seen as some politicians' or political parties' egocentric, one-track quest for a seat of power, generally in the cabinet or the Knesset – a laser-guided mission that trumps any of the stated principles and values that, in an ideal world, are supposed to be what actually guide our leaders.

One blogger, an artist who created a seven-chair exhibit featuring one chair with two hands forcibly gripping the back, described kiseiologia as "the 'my seat' policy." The idea is that seatologists are thought to care far more about holding onto their seats than about how they wield any of the power they might gain from capturing one of those chairs their bottoms itch to claim as their own.

Though the word can be used from those outside politics to criticize the political system, it is sometimes also bandied about, as it was this week, by a political party outside the governing coalition. At a press conference given by Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich to announce that the party would sit in the opposition, in keeping with its campaign promise, she was flanked by party activists holding handwritten signs. One of those, tooting the party's own horn, read in part: "A party is built – without kiseiologia."

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

Take a seat. Or better yet, run a campaign for one.Credit: Eyal Warshavsky/Baubau

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