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"I've read more dirty books than any man in New England"

An interview with the man who banned in Boston, circa 1930. The New Republic is republishing a haul of classics from its archives in celebration of its 100th anniversary. In honor of banned books week, today's selection is a brief interview/profile of one of the U.S. Customs officials in charge of clearing books for circulation circa 1930. [more inside]
posted by Diablevert on Sep 25, 2014 - 5 comments

"The English," GK Chesterton wrote, "love a talented mediocrity."

I don't doubt characterising Orwell as a talented mediocrity will put noses out of joint. Not Orwell, surely! Orwell the tireless campaigner for social justice and economic equality; Orwell the prophetic voice, crying out in the wartime wilderness against the dangers of totalitarianism and the rise of the surveillance state; Orwell, who nobly took up arms in the cause of Spanish democracy, then, equally nobly, exposed the cause's subversion by Soviet realpolitik; Orwell, who lived in saintly penury and preached the solid virtues of homespun Englishness; Orwell, who died prematurely, his last gift to the people he so admired being a list of suspected Soviet agents he sent to MI5.
For the BBC's Point of View series, Will Self tackles the cult of Orwell.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 31, 2014 - 79 comments

All I'm really saying is "Sebald is great"

In "Walking, Researching, Remembering: W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn as Essay," Patrick Madden reaches a simple conclusion but visits along the way several points of wider interest in a discussion of essays in general. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 4, 2014 - 2 comments

To make a call the writer had to travel 18 miles

A visit to George Orwell's house on the remote Scottish island of Jura.
posted by Chrysostom on Jul 3, 2014 - 15 comments

From the Merchants of Cool to Generation Like

'The media is a chaotic place. Like an ocean or a weather system, it no longer respects authority. In fact, those who attempt to impose their authority are ridiculed, while brilliant and valuable tidbits emerge from the most remote and seemingly inconsequential sources.... Younger, media-savvy viewers instinctively reject authoritative voices and laugh at commercials in which people try to act "cool." ' That was Douglas Rushkoff's assessment of companies courting the youth demographic as covered in print in 2000, and the next year in video as the PBS Frontline documentary, Merchants of Cool (streaming documentary; prev: 1, 2, 3, 4). Earlier this year, Rushkoff revisited the topic with PBS in Generation Like (streaming documentary), in a time when young people are generally happy to tell the world what brands they like as a way of identifying who they are. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 20, 2014 - 44 comments

George Orwell’s Letter on Why He Wrote ‘1984’

A wise man with a deep understanding of world and eerily prescient and accurate thoughts. Post-NSA revelations, 1984 seems even more real and possible. Reading this letter gives a view into George Orwell's thought process and he really impresses. [more inside]
posted by TheLittlePrince on Aug 15, 2013 - 128 comments

People full of shit, both liberal and conservative, most of the time.

False memories of fabricated political events [ABSTRACT]. In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions. [FULL TEXT PDF AVAILABLE HERE] [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 13, 2013 - 78 comments

Still Down And Out

On the trail of George Orwell’s outcasts. 'Some 80 years after George Orwell chronicled the lives of the hard-up and destitute in his book Down and Out in Paris and London, what has changed?' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Aug 7, 2011 - 11 comments

Orwell's War-Time Diary

“People talk a little more of the war, but very little. As always hitherto, it is impossible to overhear any comments on it in the pubs, etc. Last night, E[ileen] and I went to the pub to hear the 9 o’c news. The barmaid was not going to have it on if we had not asked her, and to all appearances nobody listened.”
On May 28, 1940, George Orwell began keeping a war time diary. Printed in “full and in chronological order” by the Orwell Trust, 70 years after he wrote them, with selected historian’s notes. Pre-war entries are a little duller, focusing on topics like recipes (macon!), the weather, gardening and farming. (Previously)
posted by stratastar on Jun 18, 2010 - 21 comments

The Last Man in Europe

1984: The masterpiece that killed George Orwell
posted by Artw on May 9, 2009 - 79 comments

We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm

How the Poor Die My right-hand neighbour was a little red-haired cobbler with one leg shorter than the other, who used to announce the death of any other patient (this happened a number of times, and my neighbour was always the first to hear of it) by whistling to me, exclaiming "NUMÉRO 43!" (or whatever it was) and flinging his arms above his head. This man had not much wrong with him, but in most of the other beds within my angle of vision some squalid tragedy or some plain horror was being enacted. Previously [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Dec 4, 2008 - 16 comments

Had To Shoot An Elephant Today. Mood: (,_,)

GYOB: George Orwell's Blog, brought to you by The Orwell Prize. "August 9, 1938: Caught a large snake in the herbaceous border beside the drive..." [more inside]
posted by Alvy Ampersand on Aug 9, 2008 - 13 comments

Face the telescreen

Nineteen Eighty-Four (YouTube) Nigel Kneale's BBC adaptation of the Orwell classic; made in 1954, with Peter Cushing as Winston Smith.
posted by Abiezer on May 6, 2007 - 18 comments

Big Brother is Watching You. On CCTV.

George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house. With CCTV. Perhaps the Surveillance Camera Players could put on a performance there. It looks like Britain really is becoming a surveillance society. [Via Digg.]
posted by homunculus on Apr 2, 2007 - 44 comments

Orwell Redux

George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair is probably best known to readers for his eerily prescient novels 1984 and Animal Farm. This comprehensive Orwell site betrays an erudite, complex, fascinating personality who wrote about a variety of subjects, from an exposition on British class relations affecting the art and practice of murder, to the complex moral compromises of Gandhi's practice of non-violent resistance, to the doublespeak-laden corruption of the English language as a telling reflection of a corrupt, brutal, post-WWII culture — and much, much more. This site also includes Russian translations of much of Orwell's work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 21, 2006 - 21 comments

I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles, but I had joined the militia almost immediately

"I had come to Spain with some notion of writing newspaper articles, but I had joined the militia almost immediately." – George Orwell, writing about the revolutionary war which started 70 years ago yesterday: July 19th, 1936. Also: Anarchism and the Spanish Civil War. The Visual Front: Posters of The Spanish Civil War. Photos from the Spanish Civil War. Films from the CNT (National Confederation of Labour), 1936-1938.
posted by Len on Jul 20, 2006 - 28 comments

Who is watching Big Brother?

Who is watching Big Brother? Last week, the Australian Privacy Foundation held its annual Big Brother Awards, with biometric passports winning the prestigious "Orwell" for the most invasive technology (other countries' Big Brother Awards here). Not long before, Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center released their 7th Annual Survey on the state of privacy in sixty countries, claiming that threats to personal privacy have reached a level that is dangerous to fundamental human rights. Are we edging closer to Room 101?
posted by UbuRoivas on Nov 29, 2004 - 6 comments

Orwell's Centenary

Today marks one hundred years since the birth of George Orwell. He may have died in 1950, just after finishing his master work, but he has remained culturally relevant ever since, and never more so than during the past two years.
posted by Silune on Jun 25, 2003 - 6 comments

"Orwellian, Dude!"

"Orwellian, Dude!" Elusive, legendary author Thomas Pynchon resurfaces to intoduce a new edition of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four with a critical eye on the present. And finds optimism in the appendix.
posted by Bletch on May 3, 2003 - 17 comments

The CIAs Animal Farm

Many know about the WWII propaganda films made by Warner Bros & Disney. But few know of the CIAs efforts to produce Cold War propaganda films. Like this take on George Orwells, Animal Farm.
posted by Dreamghost on Apr 17, 2003 - 5 comments

Orwell on political language

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

Words are to be likely casualties of the next few hours/days/weeks/months - time to double-check George Orwell's informative field medicine manual for the English Language...
posted by klaatu on Mar 20, 2003 - 6 comments

"Granted, we're a long way from resembling the kind of authoritarian state Orwell depicted, but some of the similarities are starting to get a bit eerie."
posted by jjg on Jul 28, 2002 - 54 comments

One Hundred and One Things I would put into Room 101

One Hundred and One Things I would put into Room 101 -- Stu from Feeling Listless has compiled a list of all the things he would put into Room 101 (which contained 'the worst thing in the world' according to George Orwell). So what would you put in your own personal Room 101?
posted by LMG on Apr 19, 2002 - 27 comments

Today's Orwells?

Today's Orwells? Ron Rosenbaum writes interestingly in the NY Observer about how Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan, expatriate Brits both, have become the "most forceful, eloquent and influential voices in the American debate over the Sept. 11 attacks and their meaning."
posted by bmckenzie on Jan 11, 2002 - 11 comments

"Let's call this a hyperwar: a world where the ordinary, natural context of societies is no longer peace, but war."

"Let's call this a hyperwar: a world where the ordinary, natural context of societies is no longer peace, but war." Having seen the photograph of Osama bin Laden on the front page of Salon yesterday, I couldn't help thinking of the Two Minutes' Hate from 1984 (Full text here.) With this essay from Libération, does another piece of the Orwellian jigsaw fit into place?
posted by holgate on Sep 15, 2001 - 22 comments

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