Tuesday, August 26, 2008


GEORGE Orwell has always interested Hector. His pages never end up on the floor of The Cage. Hec has a soft spot for brooding, deluded, complex personalities, especially ones from the shadowy period when the Brits finally worked out that no one actually wanted them to have an empire.

This sort of self-realization has a deep impact on the psyche. The human condition demands that we are loved and wanted. Even Joe Stalin, late of Georgia, probably felt even more demonic than he would otherwise, because nearly everyone hated him and his “friends”, few though they were, feared his homicidal tendencies.

Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair, a product of the British Raj) was a classic English snob-socialist of the sort so frequently found lurking at the shadowy skirting boards of last-gasp imperialism. He later became less than enamoured of Russia’s own expansive designs masquerading as a kindly Soviet bid to save the world from itself (and for Mother Russia, a process newly energised today by Bad King Vlad in the New Kremlin and appropriately featuring Georgia), even though he was a chap with profoundly communistic tendencies himself. It must have been his Burma experience: he so wanted to liberate all those poor teak trees.

Hec’s favourite Orwell scribbling are “1984” – how passé that now sounds – and “Animal Farm”. Both are the proper products of a febrile mind; one, moreover, determined to shame people into submission. (For Hec, 1984 is chiefly memorable as the year in which he turned 40 and started counting backwards. This year, he’s enjoying being 17 again.)

Having had some experience with pigs – the school farm at his English alma mater provided good opportunities for sneaking a smoke behind the sties – he has always found some sympathy with the animals of which Orwell wrote, who much preferred preferment and set out to be more equal than others.

He has been re-reading Orwell’s diaries, less as a primer on the life and times and passing thoughts of the good George than as an exercise in historical recall. Now, of course, he can do so on the web, since a kindly English academic has taken upon herself the task of turning old George into a daily blogger. Orwell's private diary - written from 1938 onwards and much less interesting than his political diary, which records the long collapse of the faith that underpinned his astounding intellect - is now appearing 70 years to the day after he penned his ruminations. It's vital stuff for anyone who wants to check on the weather and the readiness or otherwise of blackberries (the ones you pick and eat).

Hec says he just can’t wait for 2015, when he’ll be able to read of strange and disquieting disturbances down on the farm.

CLAWNOTE: On Orwell, his diaries, and many other matters, the excellent Gizmodo website (http://gizmodo.com) may interest fellow scribblers.

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