Orwell: A Bard Navigating the World of the Gutter Crawlers (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 213)

The interesting thing about the New Albion was that it was so completely modern in spirit. There was hardly a soul in the firm who was not perfectly well aware that publicity—advertising—is the dirtiest ramp that capitalism has yet produced. In the red lead firm there had still lingered certain notions of commercial honour and usefulness. But such things would have been laughed at in the New Albion. Most of the employees were the hard-boiled, Americanised, go-getting type—the type to whom nothing in the world is sacred, except money. They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket. And yet beneath their cynicism there was the final naïveté, the blind worship of the money-god. Gordon studied them unobtrusively. As before, he did his work passably well and his fellow-employees looked down on him. Nothing had changed in his inner mind. He still despised and repudiated the money-code. Somehow, sooner or later, he was going to escape from it; even now, after his late fiasco, he still plotted escape. He was in the money-world, but not of it. As for the types about him, the little bowler-hatted worms who never turned, and the go-getters, the American business-college gutter crawlers, they rather amused him than not. He liked studying their slavish keep-your-job mentality, He was the chiel amang* them takin’ notes.

One day a curious thing happened. Somebody chanced to see a poem of Gordon’s in a magazine, and put it about that they “had a poet in the office.” Of course Gordon was laughed at, not ill-naturedly, by the other clerks. They nicknamed him “the bard” from that day forth. But though amused, they were also faintly contemptuous. It confirmed all their ideas about Gordon. A fellow who wrote poetry wasn’t exactly the type to Make Good.

*the chiel amang = the young man (Scottish) among

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell          1936

How Puppets Dance and Rewrite their Strings (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 178)

He wondered about the people in the typical lower-middle-class houses like those. They would be, for example, small clerks, shop assistants, commercial travellers, insurance touts, tram conductors. Did they know that they were only puppets dancing when money pulled the strings? You bet they didn’t. And if they did, what would they care? They were too busy being born, being married, begetting, working, dying. It mightn’t be a bad thing, if you could manage it, to feel yourself one of them, one of the ruck of men. Our civilization is founded on greed and fear, but in the lives of common men the greed and fear are mysteriously transmuted into something nobler. The lower-middle-class people in there, behind their lace curtains, with their children and scraps of furniture and their aspidistras lived by the money-code, sure enough, and yet they contrived to keep their decency. The money-code as they interpreted it was not merely cynical and hoggish. They had their standards, their inviolable points of honor. They “kept themselves respectable”—kept the aspidistra flying. Besides, they were alive. They were bound up in a bundle of life. They begot children, which is what the saints and soul-savers never by any chance do.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell          1936

Cribb Comment: I understand the distinct possibility of my misperception of Orwell’s script, but my take on this passage is that it is as multifaceted and convoluted as the rest of his ponderings. The first half of the paragraph appears to present itself in direct full frontal clarity of meaning. The second half of the paragraph, beginning with but in the lives…, seems to display an intricate dual meaning. Satire dominates this section as the most overt theme of interpretation, but a simplistic face value description of pure relevant quasi-truth mixed in with illustrating how a “delusional norm” has been transformed into the “reality of the norm” for the majority of those of lower awareness cannot be denied. They are “bundled up in life” as they have rewritten life to be, but not as Orwell himself would define true objective life. The same applies to them “keeping themselves respectable in their translation of the money-code”. They are also more likely to biologically reproduce, which “thinkers” and those of higher awareness might be less likely to do as a direct result of understanding the actual and non-bastardized reality of consequence and existence. The “truths” of a delusional norm are still “truths” which most often impact heavily on the truths of shared or communal objective reality.  I can hear Orwell saying “Which is better? Which creates more suffering? Are the collective accurate perceptions of objective reality and the collective accepted delusions of a rewritten and bastardized reality codependent on one another for balancing each other out and assuring the continued physical survival of the members of both groups given the current condition of existence on our mutually inhabited world?” It would seem that until that comprehensive existence is emphatically changed for the entire world, the answer to this last question must remain yes.

Cribb          2017

Money is what God used to Be (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 169)

In a crude, boyish way, he had begun to get the hang of this money-business. At an earlier age than most people he grasped that all modern commerce is a swindle. Curiously enough, it was the advertisements in the Underground stations that first brought it home to him. He little knew, as the biographers say, that he himself would one day have a job in an advertising firm. But there was more to it than the mere fact that business is a swindle. What he realized, and more clearly as time went on, was that money-worship has been elevated into a religion. Perhaps it is the only real religion—the only really felt religion—that is left to us. Money is what God used to be. Good and evil have no meaning any longer except failure and success. Hence the profoundly significant phrase, to make good. The decalogue has been reduced to two commandments. One for the employers—the elect, the money-priest-hood as it were—”Thou shalt make money”; the other for the employed—the slaves and underlings—”Thou shalt not lose thy job.” It was about this time that he came across The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and read about the starving carpenter who pawns everything but sticks to his aspidistra. The aspidistra became a sort of symbol for Gordon after that. The aspidistra, flower of England! It ought to be on our coat of arms instead of the lion and the unicorn. There will be no revolution in England while there are aspidistras in the windows.

Keep The Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell          1936

The Orwell you don’t know – 2 (WPMY 134)

The fact is that in passages like that to which I have referred, and in numerous other places in this part of the book, Mr. Orwell is still a victim of that early atmosphere, in his his home and public school, which he himself has so eloquently exposed. His conscience, his sense of decency, his understanding of realities tell him to declare himself a Socialist: but fighting against this compulsion there is in him all the time a compulsion far less conscious but almost—though fortunately not quite—as strong: the compulsion to conform to the mental habits of his class. That is why Mr. Orwell, looking at a Socialist, smells out (to use a word which we have already met in another connection) a certain crankiness in him; and he finds, as examples of his crankiness, a hatred of war (pacifism), a desire to see woman no longer oppressed by men (feminism), and a refusal to withhold the knowledge which will add a little happiness to certain human lives (birth control).

This conflict of two compulsions is to be found again and again throughout the book. For instance, Mr. Orwell calls himself a “half intellectual”; but the truth is that he is at one and the same time an extreme intellectual and a violent anti-intellectual. Similarly he is a frightful snob—still (he must forgive me for saying this), and a genuine hater of every form of snobbery. For those who can read, the exhibition of this conflict is neither the least interesting nor the least valuable part of this book: for it shows the desperate struggle through which a man must go before, in our present society, his mind can really become free—if indeed that is ever possible.  

Forward to The Road to Wigan Pier (Orwell 1937)

Victor Gollancz           1937

The Orwell you don’t know – 1 (WPMY 133)

We may take it that the return to a simpler, freer, less mechanised way of life, however desirable it may be, is not going to happen. This is not fatalism, it is merely acceptance of facts. It is meaningless to oppose Socialism on the ground that you object to the beehive State, because the beehive State is here. The choice is not, as yet, between a human and an inhuman world. It is simply between Socialism and Fascism, which at its very best is Socialism with the virtues left out.

The Road to Wigan Pier

George Orwell          1937

Love vs Sex 62

“We’ve been lucky,” he said “but it can’t last much longer. You’re young. You look normal and innocent. If you keep clear of people like me, you might stay alive for another fifty years.”

“No. I’ve thought it all out. What you do, I’m going to do. And don’t be too downhearted. I’m rather good at staying alive.”

“We may be together for another six months―a year―there’s no knowing. At the end we’re certain to be apart. Do you realize how utterly alone we shall be? When once they get hold of us there will be nothing, literally nothing, that either of us can do for the other. If I confess they’ll shoot you, and if I refuse to confess, they’ll shoot you just the same. Nothing that I can do or say, or stop myself from saying, will put off your death for as much as five minutes. Neither of us will even know whether the other is alive or dead. We shall be utterly without power of any kind. The one thing that matters is that we shouldn’t betray one another, although even that can’t make the slightest difference.”

“If you mean confessing,” she said, “we shall do that, right enough. Everybody always confesses. You can’t help it. They torture you.”

“I don’t mean confessing. Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter; only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you―that would be the real betrayal.”

She thought it over. “They can’t do that,” she said finally. “It’s the one thing they can’t do. They can make you say anything―anything―but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.”

“No,” he said a little more hopefully, ”no; that’s quite true. They can’t get inside you. If you can feel that staying human is worthwhile, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.”  

 

1984

George Orwell          1949

 

Cribb Comment:

I think it interesting to consider the above passage in its literal story form and also in a slight parallel version that is just as relevant and perhaps even more pathologic to those of us who have chosen to remain human. In the story line, relationships of love (not our current prevailing insipid bastardized version of the word, but sincere devout love as in honoring one another with the utmost non-controlling respect) are outlawed by the Party. This mandate is proclaimed to be for the well being of all citizens, but in truth, it is a law to obstruct the natural forces of unity and loyalty that bond individuals together and have them prioritize one another’s thoughts, views, and desires over the Party’s propaganda.

The parallel version is happening on a constant basis in our society at present. In this version, the Party is ninety-five percent of you and your friends. And this “friend party” obstructs and destroys and obliterates and manipulates their “friends” ability to form positive synergistic balancing unions almost perpetually. The “friend party” progressively destabilizes their “friends” so they may feel strong and better about their own unbalanced and unstable state. Weakened friends can be controlled and manipulated with much less effort than those who are healthy and stable, and they also provide great distraction from your own bullying madness. The overwhelming majority of the herd will always subtly attack and sabotage any form of a stabilizing synergistic union (relationship) that occurs within their midst.

A final point worth noting about the passage is that when the Julia says “They can’t get inside you” and Winston agrees, the author is emphasizing that the choice to remain human and keep the Party outside of your thoughts and belief systems and feelings, may require your complete ostracism or even your ultimate death. If a person decides life or simple physical existence or the need to remain immersed within society prioritizes remaining human (again I would say 95% of our present herd), the battle is already lost…………and the Party (at least one of the many) is already inside of you.           

 

Cribb          2014                

   

Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 1

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and the promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to itself—that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you has just performed. Even to understand the word “doublethink” involved the use of doublethink.      

 1984

G. Orwell             1949