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Archive for February 3rd, 2010

our orwell, ourselves (i)

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– No end to his impatience, he sometimes fills the time as he makes his way from place to place with the subvocal, always incomplete, composition of poems. But reading Keep the Aspidistra Flying has made this impossible, would make him feel like a massive douchebag if he did.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying is 1984 without the excess governmentally. Literally, almost exactly the same novel for most of the run. So what to make of the anti-totalitarianism of the latter? Or was the message from the start simply that Britain is a bloody grim place to live.

– No line captures the psychopathology that drives Orwell’s writing like “How right the lower classes are! Hats off to the factory lad who with fourpence in the world puts his girl in the family way! At least he’s got blood and not money in his veins.”

– He wonders what it means that this whole thing started for him with Orwell. He used to think that meant one sort of thing; now it clearly means another.

– Fabian inversionism, the birth of Ballardianism? No line captures the psychopathology that drives Orwell’s writing like “He never felt any pity for the genuine poor. It is the black-coated poor, the middle-middle class, who need pitying.”

– Do all the middle class British believe that the lower orders are having more fun (having better sex), just as white Americans believe on some level about black Americans?

– Early on in the newly released Diaries, Orwell is floored to see one of the authentic homeless whom he befriends while doing his touristic overnights on Trafalgar Square receive a small sum of money and then instantly blow the whole sum on booze. Haven’t these people any money sense? That could have lasted for weeks!

– One wants to say that the libidinal unconscious of his works is driven by an extreme form of persistent adolescent frustration at not having anywhere to have sexual encounters – parental prohibition, parental surveillance. But he went to Eton,  where assuredly things at least worked a bit differently.

– Why wasn’t Orwell a modernist? Because he seems to have utterly lacked capacity for self-reflection. Interestingly, this gives modernist reflexivity a better name than he thought possible at this late date. Someone interjects But he was, in large part, a leftist! Yes, a leftist whose works became a if not the primarily tool for anti-communist interpellation via literature-instruction over the past sixty years! In every high school in America, the novels stacked to the ceiling! And look what’s come of that!

– Orwellian post-lapsarianism: poverty is bearable, even enjoyable, as long as you haven’t any experience of the other side (which is even more, somehow, unbearable).

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February 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

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