Give George Orwell a Statue Near BBC Headquarters

The exact site has yet to be settled on, but this is in the Telegraph today (quoting the artist commissioned to make the statue):

George Orwell is regarded as something of a patron saint of political journalism so his presence near the BBC could surely act as some kind of inspiration to all independent-minded broadcasters.

My favorite Orwell quote:

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it.

This sounds like a recommendation to blogging: a critical thinking diary! What a brilliant concept! And very Freudian. (What could be more Freudian than to keep a waking dream journal of your religious and political illusions so that, when you reread your journal at a later time, you can recognize your own foolishness and gain some knowledge about yourself?)

Orwell also takes aim at denial, which was also obviously a concern of Freud’s:

Closely allied to [schitzophrenia] is the power of ignoring facts which are obvious and unalterable, and which will have to be faced sooner or later.

If, like me, you’re moved by Orwell’s lifelong war against lying—against culture smog—perhaps you’re also wondering, as I am, why getting at the objective truth of matters has never really gotten traction as a spiritual path. Maybe science plays this role for scientists, but it’s an elite path. If, however, a popular religion—a religion for the masses—ever forms around critical thinking as a spiritual discipline, George Orwell gets my vote for adoption as one of its saints.

So a sculpture to honor George Orwell near the BBC? Yes. Please. And someday I’d like to see a statue for one of his spiritual children as well: Christopher Hitchens. Of course, both of them would aver that they already have satisfactory monuments, and they made them themselves. Their books.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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