Archive for January, 2011
In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell castigated contemporaries for using language to mystify rather than inform. His critique was directed at bad faith: people wrote poorly because they were trying to say something unclear or else deliberately prevaricating. Our problem, it seems to me, is different. Shoddy prose today bespeaks intellectual insecurity: we speak and write badly because we don’t feel confident in what we think and are reluctant to assert it unambiguously (“It’s only my opinion…”). Rather than suffering from the onset of “newspeak,” we risk the rise of “nospeak.”
You can also read the essay here.
At a party a couple of years ago, a girl told Josh Klauck, “You look like a catfish. An angry catfish.” Klauck found the name so fitting, he built a bike shop around it. Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar opened last January in the guts of an old hardware store in south Minneapolis. “I used to go to the bar next door,” says Klauck, “and always saw bikes locked to the awning. It was already a gathering place.”
“What brings you to our hospital?” asked Ramachandran, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego.
“I am a corpse—I can smell the stench of rotting flesh,” the young man replied.
“Are you saying you are dead?” Ramachandran pressed.
“Yes. I don’t exist,” the man confirmed.