happiness is a warm bun

Utopias have been around since The Fall, animating messianic visions of going back to the garden. There seems to be a seat-seated urge to look back and be captured by the past to borrow the Satchel Paige quote; to go back as fantasy and spike the fruit punch, make a snake dance or try a new fruit salad. From Thomas More onwards, our visions of utopia have been dismal affairs, basically centered around the more pastoral and pleasing aspects of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights than the inscrutability of the Arcadia paintings by Teniers, Poussin and others. Utopia as the antidote to anxiety, hysteria and economic collapse? A Society of the Spectacle or an exercise in variations of consistency with an intensity level in the fridge. Bliss without happiness. Love without substance. Orwell said the impression was of “watery melancholy” …

Orwell:In pre-industrial society Heaven was described as a place of endless rest, and as being paved with gold, because the experience of the average human being was overwork and poverty. The houris of the Muslim Paradise reflected a polygamous society where most of the women disappeared into the harems of the rich. But these pictures of ‘eternal bliss’ always failed because as the bliss became eternal (eternity being thought of as endless time), the contrast ceased to operate. Read More:http://orwell.ru/library/articles/socialists/english/e_fun

Its hard to imagine Lenin, reading Dickens unless he was really ill, or whacked out on vodka beyond comprehension. After all Dickens brought us the cult of the child and the purity of the middle class all of which fed directly into the kitsch popular culture of Fildes art, George Hicks and later Rockwell. Maybe Lenin could have used a refresher in Thorstein Veblen and the drama of invidious comparison….

George Orwell:The thought of Christmas raises almost automatically the thought of Charles Dickens, and for two very good reasons. To begin with, Dickens is one of the few English writers who have actually written about Christmas. Christmas is the most popular of English festivals, and yet it has produced astonishingly little literature. There are the carols, mostly medieval in origin; there is a tiny handful of poems by Robert Bridges, T. S. Eliot, and some others, and there is Dickens; but there is very little else. Secondly, Dickens is remarkable, indeed almost unique, among modern writers in being able to give a convincing picture of happiness….

Poussin. Shepherds in Arcadia. ---There was also a Dickensian element in his outlook, which is not surprising in view of his own deep appreciation for the novelist. Just as Dickens actually made the trade union officials in Hard Times almost a culpable as Gradgrind the capitalist, Orwell’s phobias included the labour leaders who had come up in the world, and he did not seem to relate strongly to the trade unions, the cooperative movement, and the other genuinely working class bodies that made up much of the Labour Party’s base in Britain. Read More:http://www.logosjournal.com/orwell-and-the-british-left.php

…Dickens dealt successfully with Christmas twice in a chapter of The Pickwick Papers and in A Christmas Carol. The latter story was read to Lenin on his deathbed and according to his wife, he found its ‘bourgeois sentimentality’ completely intolerable. Now in a sense Lenin was right: but if he had been in better health he would perhaps have noticed that the story has interesting sociological implications. To begin with, however thick Dickens may lay on the paint, however disgusting the ‘pathos’ of Tiny Tim may be, the Cratchit family give the impression of enjoying themselves. They sound happy as, for instance, the citizens of William Morris’s News From Nowhere don’t sound happy. Moreover and Dickens’s understanding of this is one of the secrets of his power their happiness derives mainly from contrast. They are in high spirits because for once in a way they have enough to eat. The wolf is at the door, but he is wagging his tail. The steam of the Christmas pudding drifts across a background of pawnshops and sweated labour, and in a double sense the ghost of Scrooge stands beside the dinner table. Bob Cratchit even wants to drink to Scrooge’s health, which Mrs Cratchit rightly refuses. The Cratchits are able to enjoy Christmas precisely because it only comes once a year. Their happiness is convincing just because Christmas only comes once a year. Their happiness is convincing just because it is described as incomplete. Read More:http://orwell.ru/library/articles/socialists/english/e_funa

David Teniers.---The best and most famous of Woodcock's examples compares Orwell to Dickens: Orwell himself makes these very same standard criticisms of liberalism, of Dickens the liberal. But his essay on Dickens is somewhat unusual, probably his most sustained attack on the liberal temperament. In the rest of his work, for the most part, Orwell relentlessly pursues socialism, refashioning his criticism of Dickens--being unable to connect with the working class and its culture--as an attack on socialism. Socialism becomes ridden with the crises of liberalism: with "failing to penetrate the fundamental causes of social evils," power-mongering; with failing "to present a consistent moral and social criticism of society" but rather protecting its own interests; and with failing to come to terms with working-class culture. Read More:http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/College-Literature/110963240.html image:http://shugborough.info/chapters.php?id=7


In one of his essays there is a portrait of Dickens which might not inappropriately be applied to Orwell himself. “He is laughing, with a touch of
anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the
open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry–in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence a type
hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our soul.” The open fighting, the generous anger, the freedom of intelligence, are all characteristics of Orwell’s own writing. And that very failure to penetrate to the fundamental causes of social evils, to present a consistent moral and social criticism of the society in which they lived, which characterized the nineteenth-century liberals, has become Orwell’s own main limitation. (Woodcock 1975, 246) Read More:http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/College-Literature/110963240.html

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