Orwell and I

Orwell’s four great motives for [my] writing:

(i) Sheer egoism.

I do want to come off as clever. I appreciate those who are, and I feel good about myself when people tell me that I am creative. And though I don’t see myself as “acutely selfish” I do believe that my ideas are nuanced enough to attract attention or praise. It think that’s natural of the human condition: we’re selfish beings who sometimes act altruistically when it benefits us: our social, emotional and mental health. However, I think I might be more of a journalist than a writer: I’m interested in material success just as much as I’m interested in organizing my thoughts through the ar9780141185378rangement of the written word.


(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm.

Each morning, I leave my house at promptly 8:15 am. I take a deep breath in so that my lungs can inflate with the young day’s crisp air. I look around me, and understand that I’ll be walking alone for another fifteen minutes. I use this time to peel back the layers of my conscious and subconscious thought; I try to braid them together and draw parallels.

That was a piece of an experience that feels valuable, and “ought not to be missed.” I think it’s beautiful how we can comprehend the external world and arrange its characteristics into the written word. We can translate our senses into articulate words, sentences, essays, and novels. We can attempt to “evoke the imperfection of thought.”

(iii) Historical impulse.

I “desire to see things as they are,” and record them so that their existence is permanent through language. Personally, I tend to record personal history, because I don’t find writing about history to be as stimulating as other people do. But I decided that Orwell considered both to be likely motives for the historical impulse to write. If I don’t write about things, whether it be in a text, a blog entry, or an essay, I fear I might forget it. I fear that I might forget it in aanimal-farm-george-orwell-paperback-cover-artll of its raw, in-the-moment beauty. I fear that once the moment has passed for a sizable amount of time, I’ll never be able to access the honest emotions associated with that happening. Though there is a case for the undying nature of emotions and senses for landmark life events, events that would be difficult to erase from your sometimes absorbent, sometimes dried out, memory.


(iv) Political purpose.

He uses “the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense.”

This represents the desire to progress society01-Olle-Eksell--book-cover--1959--George-Orwell--1984, to persuade people to think or act in a certain way. Everything that I write has a certain political bias, because even a preference for politically secular work is an underlying political opinion. And, it seems that some of my favorite writing is out of anger at chunks of society. I tend to tailor my work to the “masses.” And I mean that in the nicest way possible, I tailor my work to the non-writers, the people who don’t value Orwell’s four great motives, and the people who can’t see out of Joan Didion’s camera lens. It is this goal-oriented writing that has forced blogging to be a beckoning for the golden age of Journalism.

2 thoughts to “Orwell and I”

  1. Kit, love this post! Taking Orwell’s four motivations that supposedly underly all writing, and applying it to yourself is a great exercise that I should take the time to do myself!
    First, I think that admitting the egoism that comes with any form of writing is important. It feels good when people appreciate your work! As you said, I don’t think that you or me or writers in general are “acutely selfish”, but think about it: Would we really be writing these blogs if we didn’t think anyone would take notice of our work and complement us in some fashion?
    Next, your passage on walking to class is a great example of how putting moments and situations into writing can make us think about the world around us in a nuanced way that really nothing else can.
    Writing to document the past is essential, as you point out. Many write to document past events, moments, or actions so that society can learn from it’s history. But documenting personal history is just as important, so you can learn from your past, dwell on it, and improve as a person going forward.
    Lastly, I agree with you in concurring with Orwell that political bias is present in all writing. If your writing isn’t at least a little bit aimed at changing someone’s opinion about something, or persuade some sort of societal change, then why are you writing at all?

    Awesome job, Kit!

  2. Hi Kit,
    I love how you structured this post – that list in Orwell’s piece really intrigued me as well. He is very confident in his assertion that these are the four sole motives for writing, but he does a good job at (possibly) convincing me. Or at least making me think.
    I completely relate to your discussion of the “historical impulse” component. This line in particular: “I fear that once the moment has passed for a sizable amount of time, I’ll never be able to access the honest emotions associated with that happening.” So many times after I experience something I want to put it down, to cement it through language. I definitely think “history” refers to anything… not just stuff that happened to others way back when. Writing about personal experiences definitely fits into this category, and so much of what we do is just that.
    I also think that Orwell’s “political purpose” is a lot more broad than it sounds. We live in a society with people… isn’t all that we write shaped by this? Thus doesn’t everything have some sort of political agenda? I don’t think I could ever write/ publish something that is not in some way pushing for a political agenda.

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