George Orwell

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What Would Orwell Say About Tucker Carlson?

Published May 18, 2022 by Philip Ivory

Reading George Orwell as a young person taught me the value of precision in language, and how language itself can fall victim to insincere communicators who twist and torture words in order to obscure truth for their own political purposes.

Tucker Carlson’s use of his phrase “Legacy Americans” to describe those he designates as the victims of the great Replacement Theory is an interesting linguistic gambit, one that I wish Orwell were here to help explain for us.

Tucker has advocated fiercely for Replacement Theory, although since the horrific racist gun massacre in Buffalo, NY on May 14, he’s made some fumbling attempts to walk back his position.

But who are “Legacy Americans”? He uses the phrase without defining it, which is a good trick used by shifty folks who wish to say what they want to say while evading responsibility.  

I think we know. Legacy Americans are white folks who have held power for a long time, who now fear losing that power to demographic changes. Those changes are happening, and not because, as the Theory tells us,  Jews and liberals are masterminding those changes in order to enjoy political windfalls.

I mean, Replacement Theory is just white supremacy with a fancy new suit on. But if you go around saying you’re defending the interests of white supremacists, people give you funny looks at parties.

What other phrase can you use? “Original Americans?” That doesn’t work, because it makes you reflect upon the inconvenient insight that the first great replacement in this country was white folks replacing (by eradicating and marginilizing) the indigenous peoples who were here for thousands of years.

You could say “Non-Jewish, non-Hispanic, non-Black citizens.” But that … well, it just makes you sound like a Negative Nancy.

It doesn’t leave you much, which is why Tucker has invented the phrase “Legacy Americans,” which he will continue to use but never define, even though the phrase vaguely makes me think of commemorative Presidential plates.

So all credit to Tucker for inventiveness. And for being a smug trust fund dingus who should have just gone for it and traded in his bow tie for the requisite white robes and conical hat.

And to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel: “Where have you gone, George Orwell? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

As We Write, We Create Ourselves

Published August 6, 2015 by Philip Ivory

“From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.”
George Orwell, “Why I Write

I’ve worked as a professional writer for 30 years, since graduating from Columbia in 1985. I make my living in what they now call marketing writing, but what used to be called other things like public relations or copywriting. I live in that world 8 hours a day.

At the end of that day, I want to work on something else, something closer to my heart: fiction writing. I’ve dabbled in it all my life, off and on, but, now in my early 50s, I’m feeling a new commitment to it. About a year ago, I plunged back into it, thanks to some help from some good friends, a very good reading/writing group, and an excellent writing class here in Tucson, AZ, where I reside.

The thWYSing is, for the better part of a decade prior, I was not writing. Nothing felt good. Sometimes I strapped myself in for Nanowrimo (that’s National Novel Writing Month). I’d write my 50,000 words in the 30 days of November but end up with an ungainly mess that I could barely stand to look at, a child I’d rather leave on someone’s doorstep than take responsibility for. Sporadically, I’d produce a globule of writing, which would end up residing uneasily on my hard drive, not knowing if it was wanted or not.

The years when I wasn’t writing productively were bad. I felt lost. I had a job, and family. But no purpose. And no sense of my own identify. I was just a guy taking up space in the world, like the writing fragments taking up space on my computer.

But when I started writing again, I found myself again. As the writing muscles flexed, and the words began to flow, I felt as if my very life juices were beginning to flow again. I knew who I was. Why I was on this planet.

That’s what I want this blog to be about. Sure, there are many reasons to write. Fame. Fortune. Sex. Money. In that order. (Actually, if it’s those four things, any order will do.)

But the best reason to write is to stay sane.

Yes, sane. After all, it’s a tough world out there. It’s not always fun. The news is wall to wall with hatred and craziness. It’s a Kellogg’s Variety Pack of shame, violence, inhumanity, vulgarity and Kardashians.

The world can wear you down, trample on your joi de vivre and take the starch out of your sunflower. If you are meant to write, born to write, I believe you will lose your sense of self if you fail to do so. In Orwell’s words, you will outrage your true nature.

As Ray Bradbury said: “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
(Thank you, Mr. Bradbury. I was lucky enough to hear you speak once, and I’ll never forget it.)

That’s what I’m going to try to do this with this blog, jotting down thoughts on writing, some heady and high flying, some practical and soil-based.

I’ll talk about books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen. Conversations I’ve had. Classes I’ve taken. Journals I’ve submitted stories to. Anything that feeds the spirit and charges up the creative batteries, and leads you to write, write, write.

I have a corollary to Bradbury’s sentiment, a parallel sentiment but one perhaps with larger implications for leading a satisfactory life. It’s a motto to remember for any of us who have carried around large baggage, letting the weight stifle our heartsongs from ringing out loud and clear.

In the Gnostic text known as the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

So bring forth. Write. Yourself. Sane.