Friday, February 29, 2008

March Is National Bestness Month. George Orwell Understood This.

It’s possible that my learned readers are learned enough to have heard of a writer called George Orwell. For you information, he was a British writer, and his real name was Eric Blair, but he wrote books about animals and people starving under the name George Orwell. Perhaps his most famous job was “novelist,” but he held many other jobs, such as “essayist.” I have a copy of the Everyman’s Library of his Essays. One of my favorite pastimes is to skim through the book (I don’t read essays) and find quotations that illustrate my point. For example:

“Secondly, in writing one can keep the spoken word constantly in mind.” (p. 699)

I don’t know what “essay” this quotation is from, but I probably do not need to remind the reader of the resonance of this prescient statement. By beginning this sentence with the word “secondly,” Orwell skillfully suggests that something has come before. But what has come before? This must of necessity be enigmatic, for I have not read the previous sentence in the essay. The sentence continues, and Orwell mentions writing, which is his profession, or was his profession, as he has sadly passed away. He then contrasts talking (“spoken word”) with thinking (“in mind”), and finds them wanting.

This brilliance is on display on our modern age, if only we have the appendages to see. This is what National Bestness is all about. By keeping the spoken word in mind, as Orwell suggests, we can think about what we are saying. Thinking is important, arguably as important as writing. Again, it all comes back to National Bestness. The thinking, or rather the lack of thinking, that so troubled Orwell all those years ago, is in danger of becoming the norm, not the exception. In particular, National Bestness seeks to eradicate those ideas and feelings of non-National Bestness (or, if you will, “anti-National Bestness”), which is to say that those things against which I believe are tearing us all apart.

Our candidates understand this. The presidential ones, I’m talking about now. Ask John McCain. Ask Barack Obama. Ask Hillary Clinton. All three understand National Bestness; it is an idea that cuts across ideological lines. It is the ultimate bipartisanship. Together, we can raise our appendages to heed the call of National Bestness.

That is right; heed the call. Sometimes, it is necessary to listen with more than just your heart. Sometimes you must listen with your ears. Appendages and ears. As the great George Orwell himself once wrote,

“Dickens has not this kind of mental coarseness.” (p. 183)

Dickens, indeed anyone who believes in National Bestness, will not have a coarseness in their mind (“mental”). They will have the opposite of mental coarseness. Their mental will be smooth, along with their appendages. Orwell saw it, all those years ago. Can you see it now?

On a personal note, I understand that there is still some resistance to National Bestness, which is why February has 29 days this year, pushing back the start of “National Bestness Month” by one day. But that resistance is waning, and will soon wane all the way. Tomorrow is the start of a new month!

No comments: