Questions for James Wood

A new administration is in place, replacing the old tactics of fear with reasons for hope and peace. How truthful ans sincere these gestures are from Obama and his government, only future events and responses will reveal. James Wood is a gifted writer whose book reviews and critiques are widely embraced as contemporary gems in the midst of tabloid referenced information overloads. Here are a few of his observations, answering to readers' questions, delineating the remarkable similarities between George Orwell's 1984 and immediate past Bush groups of brazen hawks.

"Do you think there is any similarity between the government’s use of language in “1984” and the use of language by George W. Bush and his Administration?
Dennis Cohen

Rereading “1984” and the essay “Politics and the English Language,” I was struck by the new relevance of Orwell’s analysis. Think about how the kind of political euphemism that repelled Orwell has become rampant in the last few years—“collateral damage,” “waterboarding” (which makes the activity sound a bit like surfing), “enemy combatant” (i.e., someone utterly deprived of legal rights), “smart bombs” (a grotesque phrase, conceivable only by someone who was not the victim of such bombs). Or think of the perpetual warfare that is the background to everything in “1984,” and compare this with our limitless “war of terror.” Or “Hate Week.” We had an Administration very adept at convincing a good deal of the population that 2 + 2 = 5 (e.g. that Saddam was “behind the September 11 attacks, and had WMD); under the new Administration, whatever its faults (and there will be many, I am sure) we are at least learning how to count again, and not queer the numbers of truth."

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