George Orwell’s Six Rules for Writing Clear and Tight Prose

George-Orwell

Orwell claims that bad writing results from corrupt thinking, and often attempts to make palatable corrupt acts: “Political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”

Pay attention to how the next article, interview, or book you read uses language “favorable to political conformity” to soften terrible things.

Orwell’s analysis identifies several culprits that obscure meaning and lead to whole paragraphs of bombastic, and empty prose:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

But Orwell does preface his guidelines with some very sound advice: “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.” Not only does this practice get us closer to using clear, specific, concrete language, but it results in writing that grounds our readers in the sensory world we all share to some degree, rather than the airy word of abstract thought and belief that we don’t.

These “elementary” rules do not cover “the literary use of language,” writes Orwell, “but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought.”

You can find Orwell’s books here

 

Jazz: Melding Beauty into Beauty

Music deeper than what meets the ear: Jazz – rhythmic, formal, and harmonic.

In “Ruby, my dear” performed by the jazz icons, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, it is almost like an amorous conversation between the dour, soothing saxophone and the elegant, sophisticated piano.

The harmonies and different voices compliment each other – similar to Bach’s cello suites, only more subtle and modern. It takes the listener into notions of balance and equality; by melding beauty into beauty, the opposites, united by a soft, patient moderation discerned by the tempo. A dyadic relationship based on knowing differences, as well as the balances and rhythm required to bring the two together. Although the harmonies may not completely balance or perfectly match each other, they still sound beautiful on their own, and have a pleasant sense together. A beautiful paradox.

Music deeper than what meets the ear: Jazz – rhythmic, formal, and harmonic

Strong and True

I will age

And so will you

I am no sage

And this is my view

We are all we got

Me and my crew

We could be chilling on a yacht

But the plans fell through

It is the life we choose

Where friends become foes

It is a life of ego, drugs and booze

That brings fake snakes and dishonest hoes

When the chips are down

I realize I am all alone

Because nobody is around

I cry tears that are bitter and warm

The world moves fast

An old friend came back and stopped

He pulled me out at last

Because he realized I was knocked

Let us not talk of money

Let us forget the world

Let us focus on our comradery

Forget the yacht

Let us sail unfurled

I will age

And so will you

I hope our friendship stays

Strong and True