We have exiled beauty….

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

A stunningly imaginative and beautiful choice of words, straight from Ecclesiastes. Language that if written today, would become the wasteful mutterings of the unimaginative.
George Orwell took the very same passage from Ecclesiastes, and to prove the point that i’m trying to make, he translated it into Modern English….
“Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

Orwell was Left wing. He was Socialist (although, not in the practical sense, he was a scientific Socialist). He believed, and stated on many occasions in essays, that it is the job of the Left, to question society, to not allow corruption and lies to become common place. That real intellectualism is a product of the Left, because to be “Left” you have to be dissastisfied with the current “systems” and offer change, you have to think, you have to be Utopian and not settle for the notion that reality is unchangeable. Where as the Right, or “Conservativism” is just the opposite, and is what it states, Conservative, no reason to question, no reason to disbelieve what you’re being told. Orwell, was in short, great.

He goes on to state that the modern use of the English language is similar to snow, in that it covers the truth, it blurs the outlines, and so is perfect for political and business talk.
There are two problems I see with this modern use of language.
1) It’s lazy. The quote from Ecclesiastes is a beautiful string of words. The use of metaphorical speech together with ease of flow, is incredible. It’s beautifully thought out and expressed. The point it makes it clear and it makes you want to read it over. The second, and recreated quote, as proven by Orwell, merely opens a book on popular phrases, and shoves them together. For example “element of the unpredictable” and “taken into account“. Simple phrases, we’ve all heard a million times before. Nothing new or provocative in the slightest. And that is exactly the point Orwell was making.

The free market does not allow for such wonders of creativity. Books like Jordan’s autobiography top the charts every year, spilling the beans on her lugubriously uninteresting life. Because as a population is working longer hours, for less pay; the only leisure time we have, we spend on our Xbox’s or reading easy to follow but disastrous excuses for “literature”. It’s easy. We have no time for beauty. Beauty requires thought. Our society doesn’t like thought. It likes blind acquiescence. The plethora of literature that passes by unnoticed, is unnerving. And so where is the incentive to write and to contemplate the beauty of the imagery one can create using words that haven’t already been seen a million times before, why would they want to? Evidently, it is 100 times easier to pick commonly abused phrases out and weld them together. Phrases like “leave no stone unturned” that, when first uttered, were almost ingenius, but using them over and over, is laziness of it’s worse kind. Especially in a Nation growing in it’s sense of Nationalism, it would make sense to utilise the language of the Nation we so candidly defend, in the best way possible, rather than relying on pre-spoken phrases. You’re no longer a citizen of England, you’re a Robot of England. Your voice works, but your brain is disengaged. We could be a Nation of Thomas More, Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Byron. Instead, we’re men in suits rushing to get on the Circle and District line, desperately clinging onto the hope that we wont be late into the Office for the unfathomably boring Powerpoint Presentation the boss is putting on later.

A tirade of idioms like “Take no prisoners” which seemingly posess no determinable meaning whatsoever, suddenly become common place. Because, we’re lazy with language. Language has been a artform of pure beauty for centuries. Existentialist Philosopher Albert Camus notes “We have exiled beauty; the Greeks took up arms for her” before pointing out quite rightly that: “We are ashamed of beauty. Our wretched tragedies have a smell of the office clinging to them, and the blood that trickles from them is the color of printer’s ink.” He’s fantastically right.

2) Political talk manipulates modern language, in order to seem acceptable. When the Chinese robbed hundreds of their homes, in order to build the Olympic Villiage, it wasn’t described as theft, or robbery, it was described as “transfer of population”. Suddenly, theft is almost respectable. No one questioned it. If they’d have said “We’ve just evicted people from their homes, they had no choice, they now have nowhere to live, because, well, WE WANT MEDALS!!!!“, there’d have been outcry and public dismay.

It allows phrases like “freedom” to appear. They never define what they mean by Freedom, similarly, they never define what they mean by Democracy, and yet “transfer of population” is fine when it’s in the pursuit of “freedom” and “democracy“. Freedom, when stripped bare (arrgggh, i did it, a useless common metaphor) , means the freedom to gain unimaginable wealth at the expense of the labour of others.
Perhaps I’m not clear enough. An old couple, not so long ago, died together in their homes during the winter, as a direct result of fuel poverty. Not too long ago, E-On Chief executive was caught saying “Rising fuel costs, means more money for us hahahahaha“. Is that what Politicians mean when they keep repeating “freedom“? Why cloak greed behind a tirade of disingenuous language?
Orwell calls Political Speech “The defence of the indefensible.” He’s right. Political language has to be vague, in order to advance the interests of what Chomsky calls the “two factions of the business party“; be it Democrat or Republicans, Labour or Conservative.

Office talk, similar to political language; people in suits, using deeply clouded language to cover up their true meaning, is quite morbidly institutionalised now. It has embedded itself into the very economic core of society and so is not going to simply float away. You will often hear “We have a strong customer focus” instead of “we’re manipulating your thoughts, for profit“. You’ll hear “Our vision” means “our commitment to greed, is so strong, we’ll even right this clever web of words on business cards“. “Go the extra mile on this one“…. means… “from today, you have no social life, no family, no friends, you’re now utterly dedicated to making me money, I own you, bitch.

The business world has a list. They have four categories, and they pick words from those categories, to make a meaningless bundle of bollocks. You can do this too, i’ll give you all the tools you need. One word from each category, and you are now, a businessman…
Enthusiastically, Completely, Continually, Dramatically, Pro – actively, Assertively, seamlessly.
Build, Enhance, Maintain, Supply, Restore, Create, Utilize, Promote.
World-Class, Multimedia based, Long Term, High Impact, Diverse, Competitive, Cutting Edge, Market-driven, High standards in.
Data, Resources, Leadership Skills, Infrastructures, Materials, Solutions, Benefits for all, Technology.
There you go, congratulations, you’re now a businessman.
If I owned my own Corporation, i’d go with “Dramatically utilise high impact infrastructures.” It’s meaningless, it’s the language of the idiot, but apparently, it means i’m “professional” so it must be right.
The only way to combat such lack of imagination, such laziness is to think. Think about what you’re saying. Yes, in a way, the English language is forever changing. But the English language is also a tool for the individual to utilise, not to simply adhere to whatever the rest of society is doing. Even our Politicians of days past have been masters of language. Elizabeth I once proclaimed “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king”. Our politicians, are simply celebrities with buzz words and spun PR nonsense. Society is growing ever more pretentious with how it uses language.

“Here may we reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell. Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. “

It isn’t a case of using the correct grammar. It’s a case of refraining from pulling as many Latin inspired words out of a “How to sound intelligent” book as possible, and utilising the power and the beauty of the English language and it’s capabilities. That’s where the true genius lies. As shown in the quote above, taken from Paradise Lost, by Milton. Two simple sentences, exploding with power, beauty and genius.

You do not need to use archaic lexis in order to combat modern English language laze, you just need to open your mind to the shear weight of words that can be used along side other words to create something as beautiful as…
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

One Response to We have exiled beauty….

  1. Ushiku says:

    “We have exiled beauty”, well it seems that beauty has returned home.

    Speaking of beauty and how that word is often attributed to the mundane, I think the song “Tommy C” by Scroobius Pip depicts the notion of a selfless-celebrity, which is unfortunately a rarity.

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