Whenever I think of the English language, I usually think of George Orwell. I agree with his opinions much of the time, and I respect his mastery of the English language all of the time. He is perhaps my favorite writer – a craftsman of the language, an artisan. He writes with exceptional eloquence – grammatically correct without being stuffy and stilted; elegant without indulging in flourishes but also without sounding too sparse.

From “Politics and the English Language”:

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent, and our language–so the argument runs–must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

From “Politics vs Literature: An Examination of Gulliver’s Travels”:

Gulliver’s master is somewhat unwilling to obey, but the “exhortation” (a Houyhnhnm, we are told, is never COMPELLED to do anything, he is merely “exhorted” or “advised”) cannot be disregarded. This illustrates very well the totalitarian tendency which is explicit in the anarchist or pacifist vision of Society. In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law.

The thin line between anarchism and totalitarianism is worth remembering all of the time. Contrast with Graeber’s “Fragments of an Anarchist Antropology,” which, as I recall, makes a good case for studying anthropology from an anarchic perspective (some would correlate this with feminist – informal vs formal power, family relationships and subtle coercion) but falls into all of the old hypocritical and self-delusional fallacies of a Utopian revolutionary ideal.

That’s the political exhortation. On a literary note, lately I’ve felt that I should write fewer journal entries and letters and poems and more formal essays that present ideas in something like their entirety and have a beginning, middle, and end. For the past several years now I’ve fallen into the habit of writing everything in the form of stream-of-consciousness fragments: fragments of thought, fragments of sentences. Part of this is certainly a question of audience. If I am writing to close friends, or much moreso to myself, of course nearly all of the context for any given thought can be left unsaid.

Also, it takes much more time to thoroughly research a piece of writing and construct a solid edifice out of it. There is a reason that people make careers and obtain degrees by this process. Writing as such comes easily to me; it relaxes me. Writing a piece that can stand on its own takes work.

For example, there is much that can be said about language and power. George Orwell has said a great deal of it, with precision and eloquence, so why should I say it again? Really the only purpose of this very blog post is to send out a cyber-echo of longing for greater awareness of George Orwell in the world: his ideas about politics and his ideas about language.

If I were writing an essay about the artistic utilities of grammar, this the moment in this entry when I would express my emotional and intellectual support of the Oxford comma.

If this were simply a stream-of-consciousness blog entry I would write something to suggest the politics of structured communication as a question in itself. Something to suggest the necessity of fracture and dissonance in art and the communicative utility of such art.

Finally I would throw in some Mendelssohn: