Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Synonyms: Mark of The Beast; stigmata; "bad mahalo"; apostatcy

Categories: In-group status identifier

Definition: Palpable aura of depravity thought to announce the presence of an unbeliever to members of a belief community, as in, "I'd stay clear of that fellow--he has something of the Kavorka about him". To have Kavorka about onesself means essentially to be excluded, outlawed, a free target for all manner of abuse.

"Kavorka" as such is rarely uttered aloud, as it is the strongest possible moral condemnation that can be conceived. A person using this word prematurely assumes for him or herself the role of ultimate arbiter of belonging within the group, thereby subjecting him or her own self to heightened scrutiny--a bitter irony indeed. Rather, the presence of Kavorka is communicated subtlely through avoidant behaviour by high-status members toward the target, eventually filtering down through the ranks as the signals become unmistakeable. It is only after the lowest tier of an organization's members become confidant of their superiors' signals that the dread term may be uttered aloud--and then only in whispers.

While the extreme consequence of the Kavorka sanction is clear to even the most casual observer, the infraction giving rise to the sanction may not always appear to be correspondingly severe. It could be as blatant as expressing public doubt of a superior's assertion, or it could be the mere perceived failure to concur with sufficient enthusiasm.

This strange variation seems to do primarily with the highly fragile nature of the information-based economy. In an environment where outcomes are measured in short-term increments like hours and days rather than months and years, and the only thing one has to offer is one's credibility, control of the audience's immediate field of perception is paramount, and little deviation from message can be tolerated.

Etymology. Ironically adapted from "Kavorka" as used in the "Conversion" episode of the popular 1990's sitcom "Seinfeld". Literal definition in that episode was "animal lure"--an aura of highly charged sexual attractiveness.

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