Katie Kelsey Yeah I read this! I think he missed out some key things about Orwell, mainly his self deprecating nature, he was really quite aware that he was part of the machine he was denouncing- in keep the aspidistra flying, for example, and his diary entries. Points on language and the cult around Orwell are interesting and pretty apt. I think he is crediting Orwell with less subtlety than he actually had. All arguments are constructed, though, so it suits will self’s sweeping statement.
17 hourglass cycles · Like
Sam Kelsey Quite right, the tragedy of the man. Its a ‘non-piece’ really, but a good read. Wasn’t Orwell a policeman in India? Beatings and such. I think Self identifies with his own contradictions.
Katie Kelsey Yeah I think you’re right
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Jack Thurland yes will self! actually quite liked this! could have gone further though! the patron saint of socialism and common sense thing pisses me off. The ‘Angry young men’ et al. fit into this category as well… ‘Real’ fiction, dealing with ‘real’ issues… (coronation street style). ‘Straight talking’. Kitchen sink. Totally boring. conservative reactions to the supposedly ivory-tower stylings of modernism that were seen to be fannying on with aesthetics and not being simple, didactic, or moral enough. somehow its fine for orwell to shove his ideology down the throats of his readers, disguised as common sense/impartiality, but completely wrong when done by the baddies - anyone in authority. totally hypocritical.
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Katie Kelsey Yes, the use of Orwell as plaster-all excuse for people’s own ideology is ridiculous. I think Will Self’s article missed some of the contradictions of Orwell, he became very anti-ideology, but a lot of his didactic nature was born out of a climate of fear and a climate of superiority, preaching. It’s interesting to regard him in a time of modernism, though, which was in itself advocated a kind of plain speaking, but probably the kind that Orwell would dismiss as ‘pretentious’, but born out of a similar reliance on authority and a kind of truth. I liked self’s point about Orwell’s language not being ‘for the people’ at all. I think people’s use of Orwell has obscured certain parts of his writing though, his novels are mostly about the failure of ideology, and are loosely based on his own failure to escape ideology and being a part of the system he was in. A great novelist, certainly not, but I think he can be read as more than a novelist, although I’m not quite sure how- maybe that’s part of the problem with orwell’s reception? But yeah, short article, lots of interesting stuff that Will Self would probably explore with better conclusions than mine.
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Katie Kelsey Written on my iPhone… Points that are started are finished in the wrong sentences… Too difficult to edit on iPhone/breakinglanguagerulesdundundun
Jack Thurland It’s ironic that by avoiding subtlety in favour of plain-speaking, it only further obscures what you might be trying to say, I guess. The simplistic(?) way he is read and portrayed is probably as much a product of his love of simplicity as it is the reader’s fault I suppose. I think modernism generally saw truth in complexity, reflecting the modern condition and all that. to me at least, this (very British, as self says, but also people like Hemingway ‘de-feminising’ the language of the novel) sort of writing of the 30s was resistance to that change - even if what he was saying with those words was quite politically radical.
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Jack Thurland Took me so long to write that on the iPhone. Not really a good ranting device.
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Katie Kelsey Yes, exactly, I just find it sad he denounces ideology with ideology, and denounces the complexity of modernism’s truth with a reliance on the obscurity of the heavily loaded word, of language- not simple at all. Sadder still though that he new he was not succeeding, that he knew this was all impossible. I suppose that’s my interest in how to read Orwell, greatest mistake was presuming language could be read purely and simply. I think Will Self’s points on his language are exact, but maybe don’t credit him with enough self doubt, but I think you’re right, he must be largely to blame for this for his presentation of himself.
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Katie Kelsey Yes they really must design the iPhone to be more rant friendly
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