Sunday, January 22, 2012

George Orwell: My Patron Saint

In a letter dated October 19th, 1932: "I hope you will let me make love to you again some time, but if you don't it doesn't matter, I shall always be grateful to you for your kindness to me...'  

***Orpheus and Eurydice
The next month: "When we were together, you didn't say whether you were going to let me be your lover again.  Of course you can't if Dennis is in S'wold, but otherwise?  You mustn't if you don't want to but I hope you will."  

Few writers hold up in comparison with the brilliance, wit, and keen intellect of Eric Arthur Blair (i.e., George Orwell), author of 1984, Animal Farm, and Home to Catalonia. In my opinion, there is an Orwell quote for every puzzle, problem and predicament. You're skeptical? Well, then, allow me provide a couple quick examples beginning with this weblog.  Whatever quotes, phrases, pictures, or songs I post provide a direct insight into my heart and mind.  I write when I cannot calm my emotions.  I write to ease the pounding of my heart.  I write to prevent my self-destruction.  When you feel that way, when you produce to stop implosion, you are vulnerable.  Your heart is exposed and you stand at the mercy of others.  So what can Orwell do for me, a Starry Eyed Dynamo Unable to Quell her feelings?  How about this: “For the creative writer possession of the 'truth' is less important than the sincerity of emotion.” That’ll do.  While I’ve no illusions about my writing (though often inspired it is of no worth), its nice to think my insanity is a form of creativity pouring forth. And, its, true enough that my emotions are sincere.  Whether I am creative or not is up for debate but I appreciate the sentiment.  Its a comfort.  Thank you George.

Not yet convinced? Need another example?  Sure you do!  Okay, here it goes: I am a caffeine addicted liberal with multicolored hair, a film fetish, and Protestant beliefs that allow for socialism, evolutionism, and all forms of social justice.  Thus, attending an uber Catholic university and finding myself surrounded by wealthy, Republican Pope Worshipers is equivalent to descending into the Second Circle of Hell.  What is a Gal to do when these followers of His Great Catholic Highness inquire as to whether Satanic powers altered her hair color or assure her that Sarah Palin has “spunk”?  Well, in my opinion, during these times of persecution, you should pray to Saint George, Patron Saint of Witty Comebacks and Snarky Replies.  Saint George will assure you: “One cannot really be a Catholic and a grownup.”  In other words, do not judge one’s Catholic colleagues too harshly, they never matured past the age of twelve.  What can you expect?  When the Popery becomes too much and the Vatican Zealots not only refuse to listen to reason, but also contend your refusal to pledge allegiance to Rome is a sign of immorality remember this: “The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.”  Catholicism is like Omnianism (See Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods): There is One True Faith my friends. Failing to adhere to its strict doctrines and rules benefits everyone.  You see, Omnians enjoy having a naysayer around.  “It gives them something to aim at.”  So be a "Potato of Defiance" and remember if you die a martyrs death, as Saint George tells us: “Sometimes the first duty of an intelligent man is to restate the obvious.”  You can’t help it if the obvious upsets the Vatican Variety of the Omnians.

Yea, verily, in times of need I pray to Saint George for wisdom and understanding, but, I must confess, I’ve never turned to him concerning matters of the heart.  Georgie is many things but his writing has never tugged at my emotional strings or at least not in an intimate way, until recently that is, when I discovered his four love letters to Eleanor Jacques written between 1931 and 1933. (If you would like to read about the details of George’s love triangle click here)  The quotes at the top of the page are taken from his messages to Eleanor. They move me to tears.  In my estimation, George's sentiments are the most romantic and heart rending professions of affection I've ever read.  Its the honesty and vulnerability that capture me.  He confesses to Eleanor his fears not just of rejection but of being cast from a her sight never to hold her again: "You mustn't [be with me] if you don't want to but I hope you will." For me his words poetically exemplify the insecurity and the cold grip of uncertainty which so often claim ownership over my heart and soul. Not only are his words moving, intimate, and beautiful, but, in my mind, they also cast a new light on another well known Orwell quote: “Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem invincible”  For George, Eleanor's significant other, Dennis, must have seemed invincible.  Yet rather than writing to Eleanor and attempting to prove his superiority, he pleads with her in honest vulnerability.  For someone, like myself who finds, that affection strips her of pretense and hence protection, there is nothing more romantic, nothing more scared, and nothing more beautiful than Orwell’s choice.  To boast, to brag, to pretend is easy.  To stand before another person and lay out one’s fears and admiration is terrifying. With this new perspective, I've discovered that pondering an Orwell quote I've never regarded as special makes me ache down deep in my soul. Perhaps its childish but I cherish cloaked references and intimate revelations. For me, witty statements are, often times, ciphers. They require a decoder ring. Handing off that ring means handing off your heart. Although, I do not feel particularly comforted by George's letters, I cannot help but fall rather in love with them. They have forever changed my view of my dearest Saint George.  He is now my Patron Saint of Witty Comebacks and Matters of the Heart. 

*While I’ve no idea why Eleanor chose Dennis over George, I would like to state, for the record, she was mad beyond all belief.  George was awesome. He had a maniacal brain and complex soul. Nothing is sexier or more endearing.

**Just some helpful advice: Boys no matter what Orwell says or Han Solo taught you, its best not to thank a gal that loves you back. At least to my warped mind, it suggests you doubt her sincerity. Also, just to be clear, the proper response to "I love you" is not "I know". Only Indiana Jones gets away with demanding replicant sex or ignoring his love interests for years on end only to be greeted with adoration.

***The Painting Above Tells the Story of Orpheus and Eurydice: According to Greek mythology, Orpheus fell deeply in love with and married a nymph, Eurydice.  So the story goes, they were very happy together until Aristaeus, the god of land and agriculture, became fond of the beautiful Eurydice and began pursuing her.  While fleeing from Aristaeus, Eurydice ran into a nest of snakes which bit her legs and claimed her life.  Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept.  On their advice, Orpheus traveled to the underworld and softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone with his music (the only individual to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return to earth with him on one condition: Orpheus needed to walk in front of Eurydice and not look back until they both reached the upper world.  In his love and anxiety, Orpheus forgot that both he and his wife needed to be in the upper world before he could see his lover.  When he turned back to look at Eurydice, she vanished before his eyes, this time forever.

****Update: My Patron Saint Has His Own Weblog. To Find out More Click Here.

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