Ray Heard v. Will Self
Orwellian!…Orwell agrees…Orwell concurs…Orwell sighs…Orwell concurs…Orwell.
–George Orwell proselyte Ray Heard, Twitter, Aug. 3-28.
The trouble for the George Orwells of this world is that they don’t like the ways in which the English language is being shaped. In this respect they’re indeed small “c” conservatives, who would rather peer at meaning by the guttering candle light of a Standard English frozen in time than have it brightly illumined by the high wattage of the living, changing language.
Orwell and his supporters may say they’re objecting to jargon and pretension, but underlying this are good old-fashioned prejudices against difference itself. Only homogenous groups of people all speak and write identically. People from different heritages, ethnicities, classes and regions speak the same language differently.
Any insistence on a particular way of stating things is an ideological act, whether performed by George Orwell or the Ministry of Truth.
While I don’t judge Orwell himself too harshly [because of] his talent, I feel less well disposed to those mediocrities who slavishly worship at the shrine of Saint George, little appreciating that the clarity they so admire in his writings is simply another act of opacity, since, in the act of revealing one truth, it necessarily obscures many others.
–Will Self, A Point of View, BBC, Aug. 14.