Comments:John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing
This page is for commentary on the news. If you wish to point out a problem in the article (e.g. factual error, etc), please use its regular collaboration page instead. Comments on this page do not need to adhere to the Neutral Point of View policy. You should sign your comments by adding ~~~~ to the end of your message. Please remain on topic. Though there are very few rules governing what can be said here, civil discussion and polite sparring make our comments pages a fun and friendly place. Please think of this when posting.
Quick hints for new commentators:
- Use colons to indent a response to someone else's remarks
- Always sign your comments by putting --~~~~ at the end
- You can edit a section by using the edit link to the right of the section heading
I haven't read 'Snowball's Chance', but from Reed's interview it seems like he's at least partly missed the point of Orwell's work. In 1946 Orwell stated that "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I know it."
Animal Farm was not merely a work warning of the perils of revolution and new ideologies. It was never as simple as the post-Orwellian framework that various bodies with their own agendas forced upon it. Animal Farm transcends it's own era without being rewritten or redefined. Animal Farm demonstrates the hazards of trusting good intentions to the malice and ignorance of human frailty and fallibility. This will always be applicable as long as there are ideologies and minds to follow them. That was surely part of the reason for writing the book as an allegory and not a plain history of the rise and fall of Russian Socialism.
It's also easy to see how someone with this short sighted view of history can attack literature of past eras claiming it of no importance.
As for the section on the future of writing and narrative form; I'd probably agree that writing will be popularised for the masses and repackaged in some easier, quicker more palatable form; probably via the internet. Like printing the haiku of Basho on the back of a packet of cigarettes to be glanced at and discarded. It's been done before with comics and the penny dreadful and they have almost come and gone. The written form, created from art and skill will persevere within the five act structure in one form or another for a LONG time. Something as escapist, eccentric and personal as reading a book does not need to evolve much to survive. Shane.Bell 08:15, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
John Reed Interview
John Reed interview. This is news? John Reed appears to be a lightweight who rips off Orwell and Shakespeare's work in order to gain free credibility for himself. Mr. Reed needs to do his own work. He will never be part of any 'canon' standing on other people's shoulders.-18.104.22.168 01:15, 20 October 2007 (UTC)
And thanks Shane, and IP address, for your thoughts.
Shane, I sympathize with your disquiet about the loss of three or five act narratives. Don't worry, there will still be plenty of them. Even now, there are novels and television series and plenty of narrative structures that are much larger than three or five acts, which nontheless employ three or five acts in their constituent episodes. And, incidentally, three or five acts, the way we think of them today, are not old structures: they're relatively new.
As for the Internet, a lot of people were quite upset about the printing press; the scribes said it was a fad.
As for my misunderstanding Orwell, if you haven't read my book ...
Again, all the best to everyone. Go read a new book.
I wasn't sure if we'd get any reply from you here. Good to see you stayed around!
I'm not sure I'd say 3/5 act structures are new... their roots have been around for at least 2500yrs; predating the English language. When Aristotle talked about the protasis, epitasis and catastrophe the idea was already well established. Now I know what you're saying is that today's 3/5 act structure is not the same beast as the ancient Greeks knew (and that's a fair and valid point); but it is a clear descendant and tomorrow's structures will still follow the same lines IMHO. At least for as long as we're around to see it.
As for misunderstanding Orwell; I wasn't attacking your book at all, that's why I said at the start that I hadn't read it and that I was purely reacting to the interview.
What I don't agree with is how in the interview, Orwell's work was slated for being a "bludgeon for revolutionary thinking". My disagreement in this is reflected in my quote from my first post. Orwell was for reform, for revolutionary thinking, he would've probably been for your book and not seen how it was intended as an attack on his book from what I've read about Snowball's Chance.
To me Animal farm was about how good intentions and well meaning beginnings are never enough. Manor Farm was brought to ruin by a corruption of Old Major's dream which was born to bring the farm to a harmonious Communist glory. Just as the USSR crumbled at the hands of Stalin who pushed a twisted version of Socialism that was miles away from anything envisioned by Comrade Marx and Engels.
This is just as applicable to a Capitalist model where everyone assumes the role of a drone and trusts the greed of the rich guy upstairs to run the economy by some form of economic convection. It could also be applicable to the fanatics and 'believers' Who trust their direction to preachers who teach from texts with mostly good intentions and well meaning beginnings but end in something entirely different.
I do however, agree that there are a lot of books out there that are anachronistic to today's world and can be a waste of time (not animal farm) for anyone trying to 'read classics' or heaven forbid; learn something from a book! I too think that the education systems need to have a large part to play in putting this right.
I will get around to reading your book. I do think it seems like a relevant idea and may have a place in the modern world alongside Animal Farm. I don't however see it as replacing Animal Farm. Of course that will have to wait until I've read the other books on my literary shortlist and finished writing my own novel :) Shane.Bell 12:36, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Animal Farm and the Cold War
From what I gather, it seems that Mr. Reed despises Animal Farm because he sees it as a CIA tool. First of all, that claim in itself is debatable, but even if AF were a neocon bible, I don't see why Orwell should take the blame for that. If anything, his works (especially 1984 and AF) have shown us that any ideological tool can be taken out of context and made to fit a new doctrine. Whether Orwell sold out at the end of his life or not, I don't think it's fair to brand him as a reactionary element who helped to establish the oppressive status quo of today's America. I mean AF is really more of a parable about the Russian revolution than one about the Cold War, regardless of how it has been appropriated by "the regime" during the past few decades. I really can't understand why Mr. Reed hates Orwell so much, and this interview doesn't make his motives any clearer. Personally, I found a great deal of inspiration in Orwell's work (fiction and non-fiction). I don't think AF and 1984 are meant to be pessimistic, defeatist apologies for the status quo. If anything, their message is that the revolution is worth fighting for even when all seems lost. Anyway, that's my interpretation. Mr. Reed seems to have a different one and that's great. But I don't think Orwell deserves all this hostility, and I'm not putting him on a pedestal or anything, criticism is always welcome, but I think it must be acknowledged that he was also a great positive influence for many authors and thinkers of the past century, regardless of any mistakes that he might have made in his later years.
P.S. Ron Paul is a nutbag (and a bigot). If anything, Mr. Reed you should be criticizing the likes of him as bitingly as you have done to Orwell. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 22:45, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Comments from feedback form - "John Reed is an idiot who appa..."
John Reed is an idiot who apparently has no real understanding of Orwell or his works. To blame Orwell for the Twin Towers is ignorant and leaves on astounded. Orwell fought on the front lines against fascism and devoted his life to a better world. Perhaps the CIA hijacked his work and perhaps Reed's teacher's used it to undermine progressive thought but anyone who's read Homage to Catalonia would know that those were not Orwell's intentions. If anything Orwell was a godsend in relating how Stalin and Hitler were more alike that apart. Orwell allowed those on the left to criticize the fascistic tendencies of Stalinism but remain committed to a better future for the working class and those marginalized politically and economically. At a time when many on the left felt it was their duty to support socialism in one country, no matter how steeped in blood, Orwell took an unpopular and brave stand is saying, this is wrong. —126.96.36.199 (talk) 05:39, 9 July 2010 (UTC)