Daily Archives: January 21, 2011

George Orwell


From the 1985 film adaptation of 1984: The principle of perpetual war explained (video not embedded: click on the image and hit the YouTube link)

On this date in 1950 George Orwell died (born 1903).

Frye in The Educated Imagination:

The essential thing is the power of choice.  In wartime this power is greatly curtailed, and we resign ourselves to living by half-truths for the duration.  In a totalitarian state the competition in propaganda largely disappears, and consequently the power of imaginative choice is sealed off.  In our hatred and fear of war and totalitarian government, one central element is a sense of claustrophobia that the imagination develops when it isn’t allowed to function properly.  This is the aspect of tyranny that’s so prominently displayed in George Orwell’s 1984.  Orwell even goes so far as to suggest that the only way to make tyranny permanent and unshakable, the only way in other words to create a literal hell on earth, is deliberately to debase our language by turning our speech into an automatic gabble.  The fear of being reduced to such a life is a genuine fear, but of course as soon as we express it in hysterical cliches we are in the same state ourselves.  As the poet William Blake says in describing something very similar, we become what we behold.  (CW 21, 490)