Victor Davis Hanson writes about the “Orwellian” language and attempts to rewrite the past that characterize the current administration. [Read more…]
Aldous Huxley, who died on this date 50 years ago along with C. S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy, was the author of Brave New World. The other great dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell offers many lessons about totalitarianism and state tyranny. But the year 1984 came and went, and though we worry about “Big Brother” and rewriting history, most of Orwell’s predictions did not come to pass, at least not yet, and at least not in America.
But back in 1931, Huxley predicted the severance of sex and procreation. Children are conceived and engineered in laboratories and brought up in state-run nurseries, eliminating the family. The population doesn’t worry about its all-controlling government because everyone is blissed out with drugs (“soma”) and constantly entertained with “feelies,” which offer total immersion into what we would call virtual realities, including those of a pornographic nature. Though romance is forbidden, casual sex is encouraged. And at the age of 60, everyone is cheerfully euthanized. Any of that sound familiar?
Huxley himself seems to have missed the message of his own novel, becoming an early adopter of LSD and other soma-like drugs and embracing the ideology of the brave new world that was the ’60s. But his book was more prescient than he was. After the jump, a comment from the late media critic Neil Postman about Huxley’s novel that will leave you reeling. [Read more…]
David Rosen and Aaron Santesso, writing in Slate, no less, says that J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings gives us better insight into “the surveillance state” than George Orwell’s 1984. [Read more…]
I salute Steven L. Jones, a student at Houston Baptist University, for recalling another of those useful Latin phrases. This one has application from George Orwell’s “memory hole” in 1984 to the NCAA sanctions against Penn State:
Question: What do Joe Paterno and the Roman Emperor Nero have in common?
Answer: damnatio memoriae
Damnatio Memoriae (Latin for “the condemnation of memory”) is the act of trying to erase a person from history. In the Roman world, this meant erasing the condemned man’s name from inscriptions, removing coins with his image from circulation, or defacing images and statues of him.
As you might imagine such an endeavor is extremely difficult to accomplish. Even in an age less bombarded by media than ours, it could be difficult to track down and remove every single mention of a person. People who generate great anger are normally people who have also left a lasting and far-reaching mark.
But more than being difficult, is it right?
How would you answer that question?
HT: Micah Mattix
The term of choice for “government” at FEMA: your “federal family.”
Don’t think of it as the federal government but as your “federal family.”
In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase “federal family” when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.
The Obama administration didn’t invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.
“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.
The G-word — “government” — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local “partners” as well as “offices” and “personnel.”
“’Government’ is such a dirty word right now,” says Florida State University communication professor Davis Houck. “Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them.”
“Family” can evoke favorable thoughts of motherhood and security. But it can also conjure images of Big Brother and organized crime.
The phrase “federal family” has been used in connection with FEMA at least as far back as 1999.
Under President George W. Bush, FEMA officials sprinkled the alliterative euphemism into congressional testimony and statements. When former FEMA Director Michael Brown promised help to hurricane-battered Floridians in 2004, he vowed that “the federal family is dedicated to staying for as long as it takes.”
During the Clinton administration, Vice President Al Gore responded to 1999 flooding in Iowa by pledging that “the federal family is committed to providing the necessary resources to comfort every person and family devastated by this disaster and to help them return to their normal way of living as fast as possible.”
A Google search shows the phrase appearing 10 times on FEMA’s website during the Bush years. Since Obama took office, “federal family” has turned up 118 times on fema.gov, including 50 Irene-related references.
Among them: statements that the Obama administration “is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear” for storm assistance and that “the entire federal family continues to lean forward to support the states in their ongoing response efforts.”
This would be a good time to read or re-read George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language.