Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Orwell In The News And Blogosphere

I must have missed the memo that one of my favorite 20th Century authors has reached 21st Century prophet status.  Maybe the memo just declared November is national Orwell month.

First I read this Dr. Newquist post that reminds readers
A fundamental premise of Orwell's work is that the meaning of words is determined by their accrued history,  Accumulated human experience is stored in the language.  An emphasis in Orwell's work is that language used honestly, accurately, and skillfully is requisite to a healthy political climate.
Given the Republican debates, this reminder is certainly useful.

Then I stumbled upon this Conor Friedersdorf piece that uses" Shooting an Elephant" to analyze the pepper spraying of a  University of California Occupy Wall Street protester.


Then there's this ABA Journal article that reports that Orwell earned mention in legal arguments in the case of United States v. Jones.
George Orwell’s novel 1984 and its Big Brother society got several mentions as Supreme Court justices considered Tuesday whether police can use a GPS device to track suspects without getting a warrant. . . .
Justice Stephen G. Breyer told Dreeben that if the government wins the case, “then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States.” Breyer added that it “sounds like 1984.”
Finally, the BBC reports,
Though perhaps more famous for novels like 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell was also a superb essayist and journalist.
In an article written for the London Evening Standard in 1946, he produced a detailed description of his ideal watering-hole, The Moon Under Water, which "is only two minutes from a bus stop, but it is on a side-street, and drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, even on Saturday nights".
 JD Weatherspoons, a British pub chain is trying to use Orwell's criteria to create a perfect pub.  I'm not an expert in British pubs but I do like one criterion.
Jethro Scotcher-Littlechild, believes he has found the ideal formula. "The quality of the ale's got to be right, I think good food and we like people to be talking in the bar. We don't have any music," he says
"The art of conversation's what you need in a good British pub."
Orwell would have concurred with the ban on music. "In the Moon Under Water it is always quiet enough to talk," he wrote. "The house possesses neither a radio nor a piano, and even on Christmas Eve and such occasions the singing that happens is of a decorous kind."

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