Monthly Archives: February 2009

Elephant

elephant

Julian Barnes has written a very interesting article about that utter piece of shit Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950) aka. “George Orwell.”

Orwell

Among the choicer passages —

“At St. Cyprian’s Blair denounced boys for homosexuality—”one of the contexts in which it was proper to sneak.” Decades later, during the cold war, Orwell sneaked on the politically unreliable to the British Foreign Office.”

and

“He is caricatural of Jews to the point of anti-Semitism, and routinely homophobic, using “the pansy left” and “nancy poets” as if they were accepted sociological terms.”

And as if that weren’t enough there’s this —

“One small moment of literary history at which many Orwellians would like to have been present was an encounter in Bertorelli’s restaurant in London between Orwell’s biographer Bernard Crick and Orwell’s widow, Sonia. Crick dared to doubt the utter truthfulness of one of Orwell’s most celebrated pieces of reportage, “Shooting an Elephant.” Sonia, “to the delight of other clients,” according to Crick, “screamed” at him across the table, “Of course he shot a fucking elephant. He said he did. Why do you always doubt his fucking word!” The widow, you feel, was screaming for England. Because what England wants to believe about Orwell is that, having seen through the dogma and false words of political ideologies, he refuted the notion that facts are relative, flexible, or purpose-serving; further, he taught us that even if 100 percent truth is unobtainable, then 67 percent is and always will be better than 66 percent, and that even such a small percentage point is a morally nonnegotiable unit.
But the unpatriotic doubter must persist, as Crick did. And in the afterword to the paperback edition of his biography he quotes a tape recording of an old Burma hand’s memories of the incident Orwell recounted. According to the elderly witness, Orwell did indeed shoot “a fucking elephant.” However, the elephant had not, as Orwell claimed, rampagingly killed a man (whose corpse he described in detail); further, since the beast had been valuable company property, not to be so lightly destroyed, its owners complained to the government, whereupon Blair was packed off to a distant province, and a certain Colonel Welbourne called Blair “a disgrace to Eton College.” Such external doubting might corroborate the internal doubts of literary genre. As Crick argues, twelve of the fourteen pieces in the issue of Penguin New Writing where “Shooting an Elephant” first appeared were “similarly of a then fashionable genre that blurred the line between fact and fiction—the documentary, ‘authentic’ style.”

When it comes to “authentic style,” give me Groucho

But it’s easy to see how Blair’s “authenticity” figures in the works of his admirers, like Bernstein-denouncer Tom Wolfe

Tom

“Bareback” enthusiast Patient Less Than Zero

sully

And irrepressible war-monger Christopher Hitchens

CH

A man who finds a “Two Minute Hate”

far preferrable to a Pilates class.

Blair’s cowardly and disgusting elephant slaughter brings another elephant to mind

JR

And the slaughter depicted therein.

As for Stalin, who he claimed to oppose (but obviousy envied), Blair is best answered by Derek — whose beauty would doubtless annoy him as much as his race, which is obviously “inferior” in Orwellian eyes.