George Orwell: “Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible…”

In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one’s words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally

George Orwell: “When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer…”

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

George Orwell: “Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness…”

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

RENE RICARD, FAMOUS AT 20 (1979)

… and I still expect to be deferred to
To get in free with a crowd
So I don’t go to places where I have to pay
Sure I miss out on a lot but there was a time
When every doorman in town knew me as an ornament
Wherever I stood
Even though I’m not on the A list anymore
And don’t even get invited to the B parties
I’m still treated well where being
A former underground movie star
Still carries a little weight
I can still turn on the charm
And find a small but enthusiastic audience
Where the star of a more elegant time
Is still appreciated once in a while
By the fossil hunters
I am no longer sought after by the great hostesses
The truth is I don’t care anymore
I’ve seen them come and go
The addresses change but the guest list
Remains the same
The rich are the worst
And the very rich the very worst
They only want the Nobel Prize winners
The Academy Award winners
They are like little kids when they meet someone famous
Or someone even more rich then them
Because the dreams of the poor are only exaggerated
into the grotesque by the rich
Yes those great hostesses who purport to be lion tamers
End up being nothing but head hunters
Laughed at behind their backs
But who wouldn’t
Yeah, it’s a vulgar sprint for the famous
And the nouveau cute who feed to them
All those pretty young kids thrown to the vampires
Some vanish and the lucky ones
Become vampires themselves
I didn’t – that’s all
It’s all right to joke about it
But my stomach turns when I have to wait
In line outside some posh nightspot
And watch my poor friends led like tugboats
While one of those drunken fiends
Prods them into a limousine
What will it get them?
A few grants for a pathetic art project?
This year’s pet? Society’s darling?
You think they’d say “Hi” to try to get me in
But it Le Monde, dearie
You know who you are
All you sycophants and grant hustlers
I will never apply for a grant
Let me starve!
I must look out for my biography
I may be a pariah but I am still
And always will be a living legend
I’d rather starve

Listen to him read ‘Rene Ricard, Famous at 20′ (2:53)<

- from Dennis Cooper’s blog.

Pictures showing what happens on each page of Gravity’s Rainbow

Pictures showing what happens on each page of Gravity’s Rainbow

The Reverse Cowgirl: Interview: Peter S. Conrad